While this book chapter is about assistive technology (social acceptance of walking aids and devices) it focuses on the importance of acceptable design so that they will be more universally acceptable to both the user and others. Walking aids are essential for keeping people on their feet safely and comfortably. However, the stigma attached to these usually unattractive object prevents people from using them. Assistive technology intersects with universal design – in some cases both are needed – the walking aid as well as the step free entrance for full access and ability to participate. Andrew Mcneill and Lynne Coventry explored the issues and the solutions. The chapter can be dowloaded from Research Gate.
The Wayfinding Systems and Audit checklist provides guidance for designing wayfinding systems. Included is the application of tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI), signage and graphic communication, auditory communication, maps and more. Although it was published in 2007, most of the information still holds. New thoughts are entering discussions for improvements, for example, how dappled shade in outdoor areas may be confusing for some people. However, it is a good guide for getting started in this area which entails a mix of Australian Standards, thoughtful design, and end user convenience. Wayfinding is often an afterthought applied to designs instead of being integragted into the design process in the early stages. (The cognitive equivalent of the tacked on ramp?).
The Wayfinding Design Guidelines handbook is also available and provides more detailed information.
Published by the CRC for Construction Innovation, supported by the Queensland Government. The CRC came to an end in 2009.
Lee Wilson covers some of the current issues related to public toilets. He says, “Gender neutral toilets cater for people who for many reasons feel uncomfortable using a toilet that is designated as either male, female or unisex. In the future, we will see an increase in these amenities”. He continues, “These people find themselves in gender minority groups that comprise people who may define themselves in a number of ways, including being either intersex, gender neutral, third gender, agender, Mx, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, transgender, or bi-gender. They may also find themselves in a situation where they find performing a bodily function that most people take for granted a stressful event.” With the Changing Places campaign also running, it might be time to take a look at the whole accessible toilet situation to see if it might be improved.
Michael D W Richards presents an interesting article on the need to standardize zoo signage, particularly DO NOT FEED signs. He concludes, “To achieve this goal they should utilise a design which is reliant on both imagery and text to convey a message, with imagery at the forefront of the design. A human hand, an item of food and an image of an animal should be displayed. … When imagery and text is displayed on feeding restriction signs, all visitors benefit. This form of provision should not be seen as excessively catering for the needs of marginal groups. Rather it should be viewed as an approach that represents a heterogeneous society, increasing access to information and enjoyment for all, through engaging signage.” This article is a part of a series about zoo accessibility.
This article by Vickie Gauci and Anne-Marie Callus has open access and is free to download. It discusses access and inclusion from the perspective of Stephen Hawking as portrayed in the recent film, The Theory of Everything. As Hawking says, “In twenty years, men may be able to live on the Moon. In forty years we may get to Mars. In the next 200 years we may leave the solar system and head for the stars. But meanwhile, we would like to get to the supermarket, the cinema, restaurants.”
Abstract: This article looks at the representation of scale in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, identifying moments that relate to three concerns: firstly, how disabled people experience scale issues at an all too practical level in daily life; secondly, how Hawking’s experience of scale at the level of both body and mind is (a)typical of the way it is experienced by disabled people generally; and, thirdly, how a focus on the film can prompt some rethinking of perspectives both within disability studies and within the conceptualisation of scale more broadly.
This article comes from the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research.
Abstract: Dwarfism is commonly defined as anyone 4ft 10″ (147.32 cm) or below and whose short stature involves a medical condition [Adelson, M. B. 2005. The Lives of Dwarfs, xv. NJ: Rutgers University Press]. Whilst it recognized that the built environment is unsuitable for dwarfs [see Kruse, R. 2002. “Social Spaces of Little People: The Experiences of the Jamisons.” Social and Cultural Geography 3 (2): 175–191, Kruse, R. 2010. “Placing Little People: Dwarfism and Geographies of Everyday Life.” In Towards Enabling Geographies, edited by V. Chouinard, E. Hall, and R. Wilton, 183–198. Surrey: Ashgate; Shakespeare, T., M. Wright, and S. Thompson. 2007. A Small Matter of Equality: Living with Restricted Growth. Newcastle: Newcastle University], this paper critically examines how spaces and facilities designed with other users in mind, including disabled people and children, can have unintended consequences for dwarfs. The data used in this paper are taken from semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation exercises conducted with 22 dwarfs living in the UK. Overall this paper shows the spatial experiences of dwarfs, which are a result of the unintended consequences of disabled child spaces and facilities, and suggests how Universal Design may be a more appropriate design concept. You will need academic library access for the full paper or it can be purchased. Here is the link.
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.
Mark 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.
Having 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.
This 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.
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.