If you want to get up to speed with hearing augmentation, the ClearaSound website has several good resources that can be downloaded. The Hearing Augmentation Systems Comparison is probably the most important fact sheet for explaining the different systems. Follow this up with a fact sheet on which technology is still relevant – this is one area where the basic system-type hasn’t changed over the years even if the details of the technology have improved. There are other fact sheets and a checklist, and some information about live captioning and why it isn’t the perfect answer for everyone.
A hearing loop system is preferred by people with hearing aids and easier for venue owners to service in most cases. Where a hearing loop system cannot be installed due to ceiling heights or other building construction issues, an FM system is required. An infrared system is mostly applied where confidentiality is required for security reasons.
Clearasound is the new name for Printacall.
The Guide to the Healthy Streets Indicators from the UK provides information and checklists in an easy to use format. While it focuses on walkability without the express inclusion of people using wheeled mobility, it alludes to these users: “The design and management of streets should ensure they are open to everyone and that no one is excluded from walking or spending time on them.” The guide covers feelings of safety, places to stop and rest, not too noisy, shade and shelter, easy to cross roads, and pedestrians from all walks of life. Lots of good photos add to the ease of the read.
How much design thought goes into roads and highway? Is it just left to engineers, or are other designers involved? Seems times are changing and a bit more thought is going into roads in the UK. The Design Council has an article that lists the ten principles of good road design that include words such as inclusive and sustainable. The principles were adopted at the recommendation of the Highways England Strategic Design Panel and follow the themes of people, places and processes:
- makes roads safe and useful
- is inclusive
- makes roads understandable
- fits in context
- is restrained
- is environmentally sustainable
- is thorough
- is innovative
- is collaborative
- is long-lasting
Highways England espouses lofty ideals: “We aim to put people at the heart of our work by designing an inclusive, resilient and sustainable road network; appreciated for its usefulness but also its elegance, reflecting in its design the beauty of the natural, built and historic environment through which it passes, and enhancing it where possible.”
The article outlines a method for assessing accessibility and useability of environments. Apart from the method, the results support many other papers on this topic. Top of the list is footpaths followed by seating for resting. Concerns over the mix of cyclists and pedestrians and good lighting also feature. Text is illustrated with several photos. The title of the paper is, The Methodology for Evaluating Accessibility as a Tool for Increasing Social Responsiveness or Urban Landscapes in Singapore.
Editor’s note: It still comes back to the basic five key features, footpaths, seating, lighting, wayfinding and toilets that I identified while working for COTA NSW. Not sure how much evidence needs to be collected before urban planners get the message.
The Global Street Design Guide aims to set a global baseline for designing streets and public spaces as our world becomes increasingly urbanised. The Guide broadens the scope of how to measure the success of urban streets. It includes access, safety and mobility for all users, environmental quality, economic benefit, public health and overall quality of life. It is free to download from the Global Designing Cities Initiative. Each section can be downloaded separately and this is where technical details can be found.
The design of lighting does more than just overcome darkness. According to David McNair, after food, lighting is the most important factor for supporting physical wellbeing. This is particularly so for older people and people with dementia. McNair, a lighting engineer, has written a book on the topic, Enlighten: Lighting for older people and people with dementia. It is written with care professionals, engineers, architects and designers in mind. Dementia and acquired brain injury can affect visual perception and well designed lighting can help overcome some of these issues. Aged Care Insight has an article about the book and also has a podcast interview with one of the book’s authors.
Editor’s note: The picture shows how the line shadows of the arches fall across the pathway. These can look like steps, or the distant arches can look too small to walk through. Not knowing if there are steps or if the arches are big enough can affect confidence in getting out and about. However, from personal experience, this is a very pleasant area to walk in the evening (Brisbane South Bank).
How useful is a “way out” sign? It depends on where you are and what your spatial abilities are at the time. For people with dementia it can be a real issue in places where toilets are placed down corridors away from the shopping mall or supermarket. This issue was highlighted earlier this year when a man with dementia died in a stairwell because he lost his way. Due to auto door locks in the stairwell he couldn’t get out. Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the UK have toilets within the store. They are now installing “way out” signs to guide people back to the store. They are also making them more friendly for people with a stoma. Having a toilet within the store is also good for all customers. If you need to go quickly you don’t have to abandon your trolley. We could do with more in-store toilets in Australia, especially when they are not within a larger shopping mall.