Bank SA has trained their staff to recognise customers with dementia and to help them carry out their banking tasks more comfortably. Often there are simple solutions. For example, as reported in the Age Care Insight article, one customer started to come into the bank weekly instead of fortnightly for her pension. She would become anxious if it wasn’t pension week and no money was deposited. So they set up a system of transferring her money weekly instead of fortnightly so that she regained her confidence in being able to pay her bills. Understanding dementia is key to providing good customer service and supporting people to continue to live in the community. Find out more about the types of dementia and the warning signs, which include: confusion about time and place; poor judgement; difficulty performing familiar tasks, and problems with words. Memory loss, or forgetfulness is the most likely first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
Language is more important than many people realise. As toddlers we start with nouns – naming things. Until we can name things, they cannot exist. For example, until we could say “policewoman” there could be no women in the police force. When it comes to language around disability naming is important. It is personal, which can mean there is no consensus. For example, in the UK the generic term is “disabled people”, in Australia it is “person with disability”. Each has their reason for their choice. Then there are particular disability groups that like to identify with a specific name, such as “I am autistic” or “we are autistic people”. Robin M Eames has written a thoughtful blog page on this topic and gives us plenty to think about. The bottom line is, check it out first and don’t assume about terms. As for Robin, she describes herself as “a queercrip writer/artist/activist living on Gadigal land (Sydney, Australia).” There are lots of good reference links at the end of the article.
In her introduction to Disability Inclusion in Climate Change: Impacts and Intersections, Marsha Saxton begins, “Mention “climate change and disability” and most people are immediately puzzled— it’s an issue that has often never occurred to them…” This is an article about the right to be rescued. Saxton argues that while people are now aware of this group, they are somewhat at a loss about what to do. Disaster guidelines and related literature talks of “people with access and functional needs” and “individuals requiring additional assistance”, but this terminology has not entered the climate change literature. This is quite a long article, but comprehensive, including responsibilities under the UN Conventions for Climate Change and for Persons with Disability. The article concludes, “Responses will require large-scale initiatives, focused actions and strong collaborations between stakeholders across the climate and disability spectrum. It is fortunate that those currently addressing climate change and disability, respectively, are well-engaged with a social justice framework. Both groups must understand the scope and complexities between climate change and disability. The key is thus to educate and activate these stakeholders to develop strategies to safeguard people with disabilities as climate change unfolds.”
Champions of universal design are often told that to effect change you need a good economic argument. Several such arguments have been written, but have met with little success in terms of gaining greater acceptance of universal design and inclusive practice. Shops, buses, buildings, hotels, meeting places, schools, parks, tourist destinations, and homes still remain inaccessible to many. The tourism sector has recognised that telling hotels and holiday businesses that they are missing out on a significant market is not sufficient of itself to make change. What is needed is more “How to…”. The latest publication discussing economics, is on the purchasing power of working age people with disability. It travels over familiar ground with the latest statistics, facts and figures relative to the United States. It compares the disposable income of people with and without disability and with different disabilities, and goes on to discuss the data from a marketing perspective.
The full title of the paper is, A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of Working-Age Adults with Disabilities, by Yin, Shaewitz, Overton & Smith. Published by the American Institutes for Research. You can download from Researchgate.
Note: The economics of universal design in housing by Smith, Rayer, Smith (2008) is an excellent example of economists applying their skills to a social problem. Nothing has changed yet.
The ageing of the population is often talked about in catastrophic terms, but when it comes to actual catastrophes, the needs of older people are not always considered. And it is not just physical needs – fears and anxieties can make older people resistant to rescue. Australia is not immune from major disasters. We have experienced several extreme weather events this summer as well as bush fires. Fortunately we have good disaster systems ready to cope – but there is always room for improvement. A recent study shows that even in developed countries, such as Japan, older people are more likely to die in a disaster than younger people. In the tsunami of 2011, 56 per cent of those who died were 65 and over, despite this group comprising 23 per cent of the population. HelpAge International’s findings on older people and disasters are reported in Disaster Resilience in an Ageing World. Anyone involved in disaster relief or emergency service might want to check their policies and response systems for the inclusion of older people and their needs in disasters and emergency situations. There is a related article in the International Journal of Emergency Management – Recognising and promoting the unique capacities of the elderly. It also discusses how older people are at greater risk in major disasters.
If you haven’t seen an Easy Read version of an official document, have a look at the Easy Read version of the National Disability Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Disability. The Australian Government is working towards better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Easy Read document for people who don’t actually need an it is great for getting a quick grasp of the content when reading time is short. Once again, something originally designed with a small group in mind suits a lot more people. The Australian Government’s web page has links to full PDF and Word versions, and there are audio versions as well.
An opinion piece on the Design Council website gives an overview of the study they did with Social Change UK. More than 600 built environment practitioners across the UK completed the survey. They found that healthy placemaking often sits outside mainstream housing, public health and placemaking policy. It is seen as a cost rather than an investment and consequently often gets overlooked. The article explains the economic benefits of healthy placemaking. The Design Council defines healthy placemaking as, “tackling preventable disease by shaping the built environment so that healthy activities and experiences are integral to people’s everyday lives.” Improved physical and mental health can be supported by designing neighbourhoods that enable:
- Physical activity: To increase walkability in buildings and neighbourhoods and encourage healthy modes of transport
- Healthy food: To improve access to healthier foods
- Social contact: To design well-connected housing and neighbourhoods that provide access to facilities and amenities to reduce social isolation and loneliness,
- Contact with nature: To provide access to the natural environment, including parks
- Pollution: Reducing exposure to air and noise pollution.
This all adds up to compact, mixed-use, walkable and wheelable neighbourhoods with leafy streets and great parks.
Anyone interested in the philosophy of rights, inclusion and justice from the perspective of Amartya Sen’s capability approach will find Andrea Broderick’s article interesting. In this case she is discussing the right to education. In her conclusion she says, “According to Sen, the question ‘equality of what?’ is pivotal in the search for justice. As demonstrated in this article, the capability approach inspires a four-part framework based upon justice and equality of capabilities. It advocates that social structures should respond to human diversity and allow for human flourishing”. The full title of the arricle is, Equality of What? The Capability Approach and the Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities.
Abstract: The right to education is indispensable in unlocking other substantive human rights and in ensuring full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in mainstream society. The cornerstone of Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities seeks to ensure access to inclusive education for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others as well as the full development of human potential. Since the adoption of the Convention, there has been much theorising about inclusive education; however, there has been little focus on the meaning of equality in the context of the right to education for persons with disabilities. The capability approach, developed by Amartya Sen and further refined by Martha Nussbaum, focuses on ensuring equality and developing human potential. It is often viewed as a tool that can be used to overcome the limitations of traditional equality assessments in the educational sphere, which only measure resources and outcomes. This article explores whether the capability approach can offer new insights into the vision of educational equality contained in the Convention and how that vision can be implemented at the national level.
Most people with dementia live at home and can often benefit from a range of technologies – but what are the best and when should they be used? In a PhD study, Tizneem Jiancaro of the University of Toronto has sought some answers. The thesis looks at three perspectives, developers, people with dementia, and the caregivers and significant others. Design factors were considered alongside emotional factors as well as usability. Not unexpectedly, “…empathy emerged as an important design approach, both as a way to address diversity and to access users’ emotional lives”. The title of the thesis is Exploring Technology, Design and Dementia. It can be downloaded from the University of Toronto.
Hobsons Bay City Council is situated south-west of Melbourne with a significant stretch of coastal area. As with many local councils in Victoria they are keen to embrace the principles of universal design in their planning policies. As part of their access and inclusion strategy they plan to implement UD principles in new buildings, buildings with significant upgrades, retrofits of existing buildings, features and public open space. The policy statement includes a table where the 7 classic principles of universal design are translated into specific guidelines for council staff. The policy statement discusses the myths, regulatory framework and how to implement universal design, and how to go beyond compliance.