Universal Access is not Universal Design

The next universal design conference (hosted by Association of Consultants in Access Australia – ACAA) is coming up on 7-9 October in Melbourne.  Here is a reminder of one of the panel presentations from the 2014 conference in Sydney.

UD Conference headerMark Relf traced the history of disability access and universal design in Australia. His presentation, Universal Access is not Universal Design, provided an excellent context to the position of universal design today. The transcript of his presentation is included in the Panel session on Day 2 of the conference:  Panel Session Day 2 in Word;   Panel Session Day 2 PDF.

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Meet the Normals – Adventures in universal design

meet the normalsHaving trouble convincing others that universal design is for everyone and not just ‘disabled’ design’? 
This 6 minute video brings to the fore some of the basic design considerations from the perspective of a family group attempting an everyday activity of leaving the house and catching a bus. It also goes through the process of how to design for everyone. The video was produced by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. It has closed captions.

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Universal Design and Visitability: from Accessibility to Zoning

universal design and visitability front coverThis publication contains a chapter on page 97 by Olav Bringa. His work is the forerunner to the landmark document “Norway Universally Designed by 2025“.  It gives an overview of the change processes needed to bring about a change in attitude from inclusion being a “social services job” to “everyone’s job”.  Other chapters cover different areas. Although it was published in 2007, most topics are still current due to the slow movement on the issues. Included within the 9 chapters are: The Seven Principles of Universal Design in Planning Practice; Universal Design in Transportation; and Inclusive Housing and Neighbourhood Design.

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Impact of local built environment attributes on the elderly sociability

This article focuses on the importance of social connectedness for older people and how this is essential for ongoing health and wellbeing. However, environments continue to be designed and built in ways that are often detrimental to older people being able to get out and about and socialise.

The research showed that the qualities of “safety”, “attractiveness” and “inclusiveness” respectively are the most influential factors on the sociability of older people. The results also determined that fear of injury is the most limiting factor in using urban spaces.

Download the article by H. Khosravi , F. Gharai, and Sh. Taghavi, in the International Journal of Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning.

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Intergenerational Shared Spaces in the UK context

book cover intergenerational spaceThis book chapter by Julie Melville and Alan Hatton-Yeo discusses how the generations are separated by life activities and dwelling places. However, interaction between generations, particularly younger and older people, is considered beneficial for individuals and society as a whole. The chapter discusses the benefits and includes the concern that the design of the built environment is not conducive to sharing spaces across the generations. The WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program, which is underpinned by universal design, is starting to take off in Europe and this is discussed further as a means of bringing the generations together.While this book is not specifically about universal design, it is about inclusive practice and social inclusion.

Download the chapter here

Or go Google Books for the full book, Intergenerational Space, edited by Robert M Vanderbeck and Nancy Worth.

See also a short documentary on young people and cyber seniors.

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Progress of the National Dialogue on universal housing design

house roofsThe National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design’s 2010 voluntary strategy of providing minimum access features in all new housing by 2020 has failed to reach its interim 2013 or 2015 targets. This has not gone unnoticed by the disability and ageing sectors who supported the National Dialogue’s voluntary approach in good faith. The National Disability Strategy has committed to the 2020 target being met. The Every Australian Counts NDIS campaign are now calling for the 2020 target to be met.  

Read more about in the Report of the Progress of the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design: NDUHD_Report_January 2015.  See Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) website for more up to date information.

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The Provision of Visitable Housing in Australia: Down to the detail

Article by Margaret Ward and Jill Franz, published in Housing and Space: Toward Socio-Spatial Inclusion (Social Inclusion, Vol 3 No2). An Open Access Journal.

This article outlines the findings from interviews with industry personnel about incorporating the 8 features agreed in the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. This is a telling paragraph:
“In summary, when providing the eight features for visitability, the interviewees identified two themes for non-compliance (“lack of thought” and “otherness”) and three themes for compliance (“fashion”, “requirement’ and “good practice”). Although all dwellings provided some features, no dwelling provided a coherent path of travel necessary to make a dwelling visitable. Some examples of this incoherence were: a step-free driveway which led to a step at the door; a wide front door which led to a narrow corridor; and a narrow internal doorway which did not allow entry of a wheel-chair to a spacious bathroom. The provision of these access features separately and severally did not provide visitability as an outcome in any of the dwellings.

You can download the full issue of the publication here

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Norway universally designed by 2025 – Update

Top half of the front cover of the plan. The graphic is various shades of blue with a woman operating an automatic teller machineThe Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them across all policies to create maximum inclusion. This has the effect of making everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT. In 2008, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, launched its first Action Plan 2009-2013, which sets the goal of Norway being universally designed by 2025. In 2010, Norway amended its Planning and Building Act to include universal Picture of the front cover of the Norwegian Action Plandesign. In 2016, The Delta Centre was given responsibility, and funding, to coordinate the actions in the 2015-2019 plan. This plan is more comprehensive and covers ICT and communications to a more detailed level. This is in recognition of how we are becoming more reliant on digital applications.

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Getting in the door: the public interest in the design of private housing

Margaret Ward presented the inaugural Robert Jones Memorial Oration in Brisbane in 2014.  She recounts the life of Robert Jones and his dream to make public spaces and places accessible to everyone.  Margaret challenges popular assumptions about how accessible housing will be achieved using the evidence from her PhD study on the private housing market.

Download the pdf version: Margaret Ward Robert Jones Memorial Lecture 2014,

Download the Word version: Margaret Ward Robert Jones Memorial Lecture 2014

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Barriers to Universal Design in Australian Housing

IMGP0308 20percentFrom the Editor: I prepared a 2000 word version of my PhD thesis which is worth another look given the proposed changes to the National Construction Code for housing. Basically, my question was, why we are still building and designing homes as if none of us is ever going to grow old? The simple answer is that the industry runs on regulations to hold the house building system together, so nothing will change without regulations. Read the paper to find out more about the complexities of the house building industry and why there is resistance to change from both builders and purchasers. You can also download the accompanying slide show from the 2011 FICCDAT conference.

Jane Bringolf

(FICCDAT is, Festival of International Conferences on Caring, Disability, Aging and Technology.)

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