A great resource from COTA Tasmania. Using the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities and Communities framework they have created an online toolkit aimed at local government. Of course, being age friendly, it really means all ages. However, the focus is on an ageing population – Tasmania having the largest proportion of any state. While it is designed with local government in mind, the information about the 8 domains is relevant to a range of disciplines. Elements of the toolkit include some statistics, 10 easy ways and 5 large scale ways to improve your community, digital technology, resources, and how to become a liveable community. It also has a very useful PowerPoint slide show (9MB) with lots of graphics.
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.
Guideline 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 with 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. There is a companion document, Guideline on Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction.
Sabrina 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.
Centre for Universal Design Australia made a submission to the Senate inquiry on the Delivery of Outcomes under the National Disability Strategy to build inclusive and accessible communities. The submission (No. 76) is now public and available on the Australian Government website. The key points were:
- attitudes to people with disability and older people have not shifted far enough to create an inclusive society yet and more work needs to be done;
- current planning laws and processes do not guarantee inclusive performance or outcomes; and
- the needs of people with disability and older people are treated as “add-ons” in designs instead of being considered from the outset and consequently more (unnecessary) rules and regulations are needed so that designers can offset their lack of understanding.
Australian Network for Universal Housing Design also made a submission (No. 1) which is on the the Australian Government website. 92 submissions to this inquiry are now publicly available.
“Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” This is a great quote from Verna Myers. Her context is the workplace and the employment and advancement of women and people of colour. But of course, it is relevant to all other groups that are seeking inclusion. The Harvard Business Review in its article, Diversity doesn’t stick without inclusion discusses this issue. It is one thing to have a diverse population, but that doesn’t mean equity or inclusion will automatically follow. The HBR puts it in the employment context, “Part of the problem is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they’re assumed to be the same thing. But that’s just not the case. In the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.”
Editor’s note: I co-wrote a paper on inclusion being something where you have to wait for the “mainstream” group to invite you in. Inclusiveness is something that is present, it is happening now. You can see the slideshow version too which has some explanatory graphics.
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.
The 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.
When researching the topic of disability, how can researchers know if their methods are the right ones? Do all the standard academically accepted methods used in research projects suit this topic? Researchers with the lived experience of disability are few and far between, and then they are often schooled in the mainstream methods. So how can research methods be tested to show that they are doing the right job? Simple answer: involve people with disability from the start with the design of the research and again in the analysis. It’s one thing to do the job right (accepted methods), but it another to be doing the right job (the job that needs to be done).
The title of this academic paper indicates a very academic approach to the subject, but further into the article, the writing becomes more accessible: Problematizing Reflexivity, Validity, and Disclosure: Research by People with Disabilities About Disability, by James Sheldon, University of Arizona. The paper also discusses the LGBTQ community as another disenfranchised group when it comes to research.
“The Sydney Opera House is the People’s House” says the CEO Louise Herron. That’s why they have a commitment to inclusion and accessibility of both the building and performances. Further building upgrades are scheduled which will include enhanced physical access for audiences and performers. “Accessible performances” as they are listed on the website, include Auslan interpreting, captioning, and audio description.
Children are also well catered for with special educational programs that allow them to appreciate some of what goes on. For example, it is great for a blind child to talk to a ballerina and touch her tutu. There are also autism-friendly performances for families. Free Sing & Play sessions are offered in the Drama Theatre Foyer either before or after specified performances. It includes a range of fun play activities. The musical themes from the performances are facilitated by a Sing & Play music therapist.
For visitors wanting to know more about the building there are regular tours. Accessible tours cater for wheelchair users, people who are blind or have low vision, and people who are deaf or hard or hearing.
You can download the Theatre Access Guide for more information about how to get around the building with the minimum of fuss. You can find out more from the Accessibility page, or you can type “Access” into the search function, this will take you to the relevant tabs and menus. Much thought has gone into accessibility and inclusion in all aspects of the House. They have set a great example for other leading organisations for the arts and other cultural experiences. This is also an example of how a heritage building, designed with no thought for people with disability, can be made fit for purpose.