Advances in design for inclusion – book

Front cover of the book: yellow background with dark blue text.This book is practice-orientated and covers many fields of design.The overview of this publication states, “This book focuses on a range of topics in design, such as universal design, design for all, digital inclusion, universal usability, and accessibility of technologies independently of people’s age, economic situation, education, geographic location, culture and language. … Based on the AHFE 2016 International Conference on Design for Inclusion, held on July 27-31, 2016, in Walt Disney World®, Florida, USA, this book discusses new design technologies, highlighting various requirements of individuals within a community. Thanks to its multidisciplinary approach, the book represents a useful resource for readers with different kinds of backgrounds and provides them with a timely, practice-oriented guide to design for inclusion.” You can download the promotional flyer or go to the link allows you to download the Table of Contents.


Transgender, recreation and inclusion

10 balloons of different colours float on the surface of a swimming poolPeople who identify as transgender are often concerned about their safety in public recreation situations. Dreaming About Access: The Experiences of Transgender Individuals in Public Recreation is a report of the qualitative research undertaken by Linda Oakleaf and Laurel P. Richmond. Designing universally for inclusion of people who identify as transgender is not just about participation, it also affirms their worth and dignity. At the end of the executive summary they say,

“Practitioners who wish to translate data from this study into policy should focus on two areas: removing barriers to access, and affirmatively encouraging participation. The barriers discussed most often by participants related to public/private spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Practitioners should ensure that all locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers allow for privacy. As is frequently the case with  niversal design, this will benefit many users who are not transgender. While the best practice would be to provide gender neutral spaces, at a minimum there should be at least one stall with a door in each bathroom and curtains or other barriers in all showers. Policies and procedures should affirmatively include participants across the gender spectrum and should be aimed at increasing participation.”


Telco to tech-co

A diagram of a two storey house with indications of the different types of technology that can be used and operated with a mobile phoneAn Australian Financial Review article tells how Telstra is moving into the tel-tech market. The article gives an insight into what kind of technology we might be using in our homes in the future. It explains how infinite control of household appliances can save on electricity as well. Many of the ideas come from the inventions created for people with disability – another example of design crossover where something designed to aid people with disability becomes an item everyone wants and then it becomes universal design, and is no longer specialised design. The wheelchair access ramp is the classic example of creating something specifically for disability access, but then finding it is good for everyone. Read the article for more on Telstra’s market move and that of other tech companies.

The community aged care market sees advantages for installing technology in the homes of their clients. But how will the client like the idea of someone monitoring thier every move? People at home alone can be monitored for getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, and opening the fridge to get their next meal, for example. Will older people receiving care at home agree to be monitored – will they get the opportunity to have a say, or refuse this technology? There are some ethical issues arising, as always, when technology moves faster than policy and regulations.


Australia DesignGov Principles

lots of coloured pencils are laid out in a circle with the tips pointing to each other so they make a circle of their pointsThe Australian Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design was established as an 18 month pilot that was in operation from July 2012 until December 2013. Although the project has come to an end, a website is being maintained. It lists their five principles of design which could be useful for designers in all fields. These principles are compatible with the principles of universal design and are:

1. Connected, Customer and Community Centric

We recognise that we are part of a wider eco-system.

2. Courageous

We seek to understand difficult problems and provide useful possibilities that may challenge the status quo. We aspire to have the courage of our convictions.

3. Collaborative, Co-design, Co-creation, Co-production

We believe involving many sources creates better insights and innovations, so we do everything with others. We are open in our processes and with what we learn.

4. Coherent

We seek to raise awareness of design and innovation, of their importance and to integrate them into the practice of the public service.

5. Co-sponsored

We, and our projects, are a collaboration across agencies and the design ecosystem. We are part of the Australian Government, and we also seek to build excellence in design across the wider public sector.

This link takes you to another page that might be of use.


A good job: easy to include

Cartoon drawing of a woman and a man sitting at desks in an office. The man is sitting in a wheelchair and the woman has a screen magnifier on her computer screenThe video below takes two examples of how employers can easily make simple adjustments to include a person with low vision and another who is a wheelchair user. The video includes the issue of work colleagues being comfortable with people with disability so that they don’t feel socially excluded. While the video looks at two relatively simple situations, it does give the message that including people with disability in the workplace is not as difficult as some might think.

For more on this topic, the not for profit organisation, Australian Network on Disability, specialises in creating “disability confident” workplaces, and has produced the Design for Dignity Guidelines to help business.

You might also be interested in a report on public service workplaces and their attitudes towards people with disability.


Universal Design vs Specialised Design

Blue background, white symbols for a changing places toilet signFrom the Editor: One of our members raised an interesting point with me this week about Changing Places toilets and whether they meet the principles of Universal Design. This is one of those situations where it isn’t easy to distinguish where UD ends and specialised design begins. 

The European perspective is that inclusion is a continuum – a chain of inclusive thinking. At one end of the continuum are universally designed products, services and environments that almost anyone can use. At the other end are specialised assistive technologies and devices such as prosthetic limbs and speech synthesisers. Somewhere in the middle the two intersect. Some people need both specialised and universally designed products and environments.

A simple example is ramps and level entries go together with mobility devices – a wheelchair user depends on both for achieving entry to a building. So where does that leave us with Changing Places (CP) toilets? 

Toilet signage showing Men Women Accessible and Changing Places toilets

The Changing Places website says their toilets are designed to “meet the needs of people with severe and profound disabilities”. It also says, “It is required that accredited Changing Places facilities be built in addition to and separate from required Unisex Accessible Toilets (see picture of signage). This is to ensure that the needs of both groups of toilet users are met without compromise”.  This clearly puts Changing Places toilets at the assistive technology end of the continuum as as a specialised design for particular users. The toilet is therefore not universally designed because not everyone can use it due to the way it is designed. But CP toilets support universal design because in conjunction with other toilet types in the vicinity they provide equitable access for everyone to the surrounding environment. Consequently, everyone gets the benefits – everyone is included.

Changing Places toilet showing the change table, the hoist and the toilet with drop down grab barsHowever, there are concerns that where funds are limited, it would be easy for the uninitiated to assume the CP toilet would work for all wheelchair users. In that case, there would be problems with the drop-down grab bars, particularly for people with MS, Parkinson’s and others with balance problems. The accreditation for these facilities should be through the Changing Places organisation without reference to the public accessible toilet standard (AS1428.1). The term “Lift and Change” toilets is being used in New South Wales and leaves it open to misinterpretation of what the CP toilet is supposed to achieve and who it is for.

Australian Standard for accessible public toilets (AS1428.1) does not cover CP facilities. And not all adult lift and change toilets are accredited by the Changing Places organisation. Hence this leaves it open for a non-accredited Changing Places/ lift and change toilet to be installed without a companion accessible toilet nearby.

CP toilets give families a new freedom to participate in activities, both outdoor and indoor. In this respect these toilets facilitate greater participation and inclusion for individuals and families – and this is a principle that universal design fully supports.

Jane Bringolf, Editor


Shared space or contested space?

front cover of the report. black background with a collage of pictures and the title in white letteringPolicy makers are concerned about growing motor vehicle usage, pollution, and poor health outcomes due to lack of exercise. So, the transport and planning experts are keen to get people out of their cars an onto bikes and public transport. Creating pedestrian malls is looking like a policy favourite too. But this often means that pedestrians have to mingle with slow moving traffic, light rail, and cyclists. Alright for some, but not for everyone. Older poeple in particular do not like to share walkways and footpaths with cyclists. And for many older people, the car is their mobility device.

Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has done some research on this topic which is titled, Shared Space, Shared Surfaces and Home Zones from a Universal Design Approach for the Urban Environment in Ireland . It comes as two documents, a short executive summary, and the full document. The study explored “contemporary national and international practices and thinking on Shared Spaces, Shared Surfaces and Home Zones and to investigate these concepts from a Universal Design approach in the Irish urban environment. This report sets out key evidence based findings and provides key recommendations in relation to the implementation of Shared Spaces, Shared Surfaces and Home Zones in Ireland”.