Measuring the benefits of UD

A yellow caution sign is taped to the ground with red tape. The doorway entrance has a step below the door with yellow and red tape on it.Dr David Bonnett writes in an opinion piece for the Design Council, that health professionals need to step up to show the benefits (cost savings) of designing inclusively. He argues that inclusive design contributes to our health and wellbeing, but these benefits don’t get measured. In the UK new buildings, both public infrastructure and private homes, must incorporate basic access features. But older buildings are not under the same regulation. There are costs for refurbishing older buildings, but by now we should be calculating that cost more effectively. Bonnett says, “The considerable cost of improving these will be borne by local authorities who will in turn need to justify the benefits of their proposals to Government and other funding agencies.” He adds, “Design professionals, highways engineers included, are open to influence, and access consultants and others can tell them what to do. But first, health professional must assist in devising a method for demonstrating the benefits of inclusive design in order to make the case. Concerns for health succeeded in a ban on smoking in public building almost overnight. Inclusive design – already fifty years in the making – has got some catching up to do.” 

We sometimes hear mention of the cost of bed days for falls, for example, and other conditions that are brought about by poorly designed environments, but as Bonnett says, it is time for the health profession to get on board.

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Age? What’s that got to do with it?

a picture of people waling in different directions but blurredA new report by Per Capita about employment and older people advises that stereotyping, even if positive, is still stereotyping and not helpful for employers. Indeed, the report reminds us that ageism can be applied to any age group, but more recently it has been captured in policy agendas as a term belonging older people. The research for the report, “What’s Age Got to Do With It?“, was carried out by Philip Taylor* and Warwick Smith. The report challenges some of the notions in the Willing to Work report by the Human Rights Commission. It also suggests that ageing advocates might like to rethink some of their messages.

per capita logo in orange and blue with fighting inequality in Australia“Age-based stereotypes (such as loyal, reliable, wise) are often used by older people’s advocates but recent research has shown that these stereotypes may be reinforcing already existing negative views of older workers among employers because these are not the traits they are primarily looking for in employees. This has potentially important implications for efforts to overcome age discrimination by employers. Not only are older workers being promoted in terms of qualities that employers are already more likely to ascribe to them, such qualities are given a lower weighting in terms of employment decisions that take account of productivity.”

The New Daily and Crikey posted articles based on the report. The full report can be downloaded from the Per Capita website.

*Professor Philip Taylor is a Director of CUDA 

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Accessible Housing in ABCB Plan but…

Front cover of the business planAustralian Building Codes Board, which produces the National Construction Code (NCC) has released its 2017-2018 Business Plan.  Within the work program list is Accessible Housing. The task is to produce a “Research report on the provision of minimum requirements for accessible housing in the NCC”. However, in a letter to Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD), the Executive Officer of the ABCB, Mr Neil Savery, indicates that any change, should that be decided, would not happen until the 2022 edition of the NCC. Nevertheless, Mr Savery encourages ANUHD and others to gather evidence in support of a change, particularly in relation to economic arguments. ANUHD will campaign for the process to be expedited.  

ANUHD submitted a proposal for change to the NCC last year but to no avail. It is a detailed document addressing all the criteria for the change to be considered. You can find out more about ANUHD’s actions by going to their website. Anyone is welcome to join ANUHD, join the monthly teleconferences, and keep up to date with progress. ANUHD Convenor, Margaret Ward, recently attended a hearing of the inquiry into outcomes of the National Disability Strategy and spoke about the issues in Australian housing and why regulation is needed.

Also included in the business plan is, Access for Adults with Profound Disability – Sanitary Facilities. The task is to produce a “Research report and regulation impact analysis for the provision of accessible change facilities for adults with profound disability.” This relates to a previous post, Changing Places or Lift and Change?

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Accessible Broadcasting in Disasters

white background with orange logo depicting a tsunami coming to a house with a person with a can walking awayGuideline on Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: Early Warning and Accessible Broadcasting.  This document was prepared with the Asia Pacific region in mind. But the principles of inclusion and how to implement them in a disaster situation are relevant to any region or country. The Guideline states it,  “…is designed to address the lack of appropriate information and practices on inclusive policies and practices on disaster preparedness, accessible early warnings, accessible transportation, and life safety and evacuation of persons with disabilities.”  The document was funded by UN ESCAP. The Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, Asia Disaster Preparedness Center and GAATES collaborated on the document. With an increase in severe weather events across the world, it is important to ensure people Front cover of the guidelinewith any kind of disability are afforded the same survival chances as anyone else no matter where they live.

The Guideline has very specific information on what is required in a given emergency situation. The PDF document can be downloaded from the GAATES website.

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New Urban Agenda

aerial view of a big city with skyscrapersCities are expanding across the globe and dictating how we live our lives. So the way they are designed is becoming increasingly important. Cities take up about 2% of the land mass but make up 70% of the economy, 60% of the global energy consumption, 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of global waste. The development of the UN New Urban Agenda has taken many years and there is a raft of documentation. The 5 page New Urban Agenda Explainer gives a more digestible overview. While the document does not mention universal design specifically, inclusion of all people to access the benefits of cities is a key theme. It also recommends a bottom up approach so that marginalised groups can participate in designing and developing urban areas. 

The New Urban Agenda was adopted by the United Nations at the end of 2016, and, “… represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future – one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer, and in which the international community reconsiders the urban systems and physical form of our urban spaces to achieve this.”

 

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Gender Inclusion: Designing forms for everyone

Gender Neutral restroom sign showing three figuresSabrina Fonseca has written a very interesting article, Designing forms for gender diversity and inclusion.  The focus is on designing surveys and marketing materials and whether the collection of gender information is really necessary, and if it is, how can you be inclusive?  Sabina did some of her own research within trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) communities to come up with some good recommendations and practical examples. Giving people a really good reason for asking their gender is one example:

“Are you monitoring diversity? Creating policies that will benefit them and other trans and GNC folks? Figuring out if they are eligible for benefits? Or is it for marketing and communication purposes? Is it for their doctor, or for their health insurance? Be transparent, explain what exactly you are asking about, and how it will benefit them. Reassure that your organization strives to be inclusive of everyone so they can feel welcome and protected while disclosing their information. As with any form field, if there isn’t a clear benefit to the user, you probably shouldn’t ask about it.”

A great comprehensive look at some of the issues trans and gender non-conforming people face when filling out forms and identity documents. This article was posted on the uxdesign.cc website.

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Accessible Recruitment Guide

Front cover of the guide showing two men and two women at a table. The men are wearing blue shirts and standing. The women are sittingThe introduction to the Accessible Recruitment Guide created by Media Access Australia, says it is  “… to provide practical ‘real world’ guidance on how best to address accessibility-related issues in recruitment and human resources management. This handy summary covers everything from checking that you have an accessible Position Description; to making sure that online forms for reference checks or self-application are accessible to people with cognitive, vision or mobility disability; along with handy tips for improving accessible recruitment processes that you can implement immediately.” Another great resource from Media Access Australia.

Go to the Media Access Australia website to download your free copy of this great resource for HR professionals and recruiter.

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