Is your professional association inclusive?

logo of American Sociological Society - blue on white backgroundThe American Sociological Association has developed a comprehensive policy to ensure the highest level of inclusion for all members. They have 15 recommendations that could be a model for others to follow.

While the focus is on conferences, seminars and other events they hold, whether in a conference venue or by webcast, the list also includes, how to file a disability complaint regarding the association, processes for membership renewal to the association, orientation to conference venue or meeting site, and web content accessibility rules.

The article is in the Association’s publication, Footnotes, and is titledImplementing Professional Curb Cuts: Recommendations of the Status Committee on Persons with Disabilities

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People at the centre of the design process

Front Cover of the Routledge Companion bookValerie Fletcher is a well known campaigner for inclusive/universal design in the built environment. Her chapter in The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice is an excellent primer on universal design. After setting the social context of ageing populations and a new view of disability, Fletcher traces the evolution of universal design in both the United States and United Kingdom.

She discusses legislation, accessibility standards, and that universal design evolves from accessibility. Fletcher says that universal design “builds from a floor of accessibility” with fixed standards that are similar across nations. This is a key point at which many people become confused – there is a perception that accessibility IS universal design. She explains the difference.

The contributions by Selwyn Goldsmith (UK) and Ron Mace (US) are discussed, and more recently the contributions by Hubert Froyen (Belgium). Brazilian architect Marcel Pinto Guimarães also gets mention. Of particular interest is the work being done in Singapore to go beyond accessibility codes and to promote universal design.

Valerie Fletcher presents an informative and compelling case for universal design in the 21st Century. 

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Nordic Charter for Universal Design

UD logoThis article will be of interest to policy makers and anyone else interested in furthering universal design principles across all aspects of society. Using the 2012 UD Conference in Oslo as a catalyst, the Nordic countries worked together to create a common goal and strategy for dealing with the challenges of an ageing population as well as meeting their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Although published as an academic article in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, it is informative in the way it covers the built environment, products, services, and ICT.  

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Achieving full participation through UD

Achieving participation thru UD front coverThis European report sets the scene for promoting universal design and setting an action plan in motion. Universal design is viewed as a strategy to ensure equal and democratic rights in society for all individuals. It covers participation in: political and public life; cultural life; information and communication; education; employment; the built environment; transport; community living; legal protection; research and development; and awareness raising. Examples of good practice are also included. It links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.

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Stella Young and Insiprational Porn

stella youngIn this entertaining video the late Stella Young talks about how we have been sold a lie about people with disability being ‘inspirational’ for just being themselves. She also argues that people with disability have been objectified in this process as being ‘special’ in some way and not counted as normal everyday people doing everyday jobs in an everyday world. On the topic of a positive attitude Stella says, “No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp.”

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UD and 40 Principles of TRIZ

Homes for Strong Families, Children, Seniors and All Others. How Universal Design, Design for All and Forty Principles of TRIZ Enforce Each Other.

This short paper by Kalevi Rantanen shows how to combine the principles of universal design and design-for-all with the 40 principles of TRIZ. It gives another perspective on how to apply the principles of universal design in a problem solving context.

The 40 Principles of TRIZ are a list of simple, and easy to learn rules for solving technical and non-technical problems quickly and simply. Studying these existing solutions can inspire people to solve new problems and imagine innovative solutions. They show how and where others have successfully eliminated contradictions and take us to the proven, powerful recorded solutions contained in the patent database. These 40 Inventive Principles may be used to help solve both technical and non-technical problems. 

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Universal Design: Is it Accessible?

This opinion piece by Jane Bringolf published by Multi:The RIT Journal of Plurality and Diversity in Design was written in 2008, but is still relevant. 

Abstract: Designing products and environments to be usable by the majority of people is the underpinning concept of universal design. In some aspects, however, universal design fails to meet some of its own principles. This has resulted in a lack of understanding of the concept, which in turn, has allowed the terms “accessibility” and “disability” to inhabit the language of universal design. This means universal design is now bounded by concepts of accessibility, regulations and disability rights, rather than the intellectual challenges inherent in designing for the whole of the population bell curve. The universal design movement recognizes that making headway is proving difficult and is seeking ways to improve its position. Market research, however, indicates universal design is now branded as a disability product and this has implications for consumers, practitioners, and for the universal design movement in general. Discussed are the influence of terminology on the direction and perceptions of universal design, and the dilemmas of applying a regulatory framework as an implementation strategy.

 

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Issues with ICF-based cost-effectiveness analyses of AT

This slideshow presentation by Dr Ingrid Schraner discusses the pitfalls of applying standard economic modelling to the intricacies of everyday life for a person with a disability.  Using the WHO ICF1 domains of “activities and participation” Dr Schraner poses an alternative to the standard cost-utility and cost-benefit analyses. Her method of analysis can be applied to both assistive technology and universal design. The presentation requires some knowledge of the WHO ICF.

This presentation was made at the AAATE2 Conference held September 2008 in Milan, Italy.  

1International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health

2Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology Europe

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10 Things to know about Universal Design

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has developed a comprehensive list that covers all the myths and misinformation about the purpose of universal design. Briefly, it covers:

1: Universal Design strives to improve the original design concept by making it more inclusive

2: Universally Designed products can have a high aesthetic value

3: Universal Design is much more than just a new design trend

4: Universal Design does not aim to replace the design of products targeted at specific markets

5: Universal Design is not a synonym for compliance with accessible design standards

6: Universal Design benefits more people than older people and people with disabilities

7: Universal Design can be undertaken by any designer, not just the specialists

8: Universal Design should be integrated throughout the design process

9: Universal Design is not just about ‘one size fits all’

10: A Universally Designed product is the goal: Universal Design is the process

See more detail about 10 Things to know about Universal Design

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7 Principles of universal design

ron_maceThe seven principles of universal design were devised in the mid nineties, but still hold today. They remain a good reference point or framework for designing any building, open space, product, phone app, or document. They were developed by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers led by the late Ron Mace (pictured).

A good example of explaining the principles can be found on the website of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Briefly the principles are:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive to Use
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

An update to this list was published in 2012 by Steinfeld and Maisel as the 8 Goals of Universal Design. They are more action based than the principles, and include cultural inclusion.

In 2006 Steinfeld and Danford also ‘crosswalked’ the principles to the ICF – a handy reference for academics utilising the ICF for activities and participation.

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