The Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation has produced an informative six minute video presented by an architect. It presents the case for universal design in the built environment and showcases what has been achieved by thinking and designing universally.This video is a good reference for explaining universal design to the uninitiated making the point that you don’t have to be a specialist designer to think and design inclusively.
The website also includes a link to their guide: Design for Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings. The webpage makes the distinction between accessibility and universal design. “It is separate from accessible design as Universal Design is based on the equitable use of a facility and social inclusion and not the measurement of accessible design features and meeting minimum legislative requirements.”
The campaign for suitably designed toilet facilities for adults who need a high level of support from a carer is making an impact. While theChanging Places facilities are disability specific and have a lot of gadgets and equipment – they help create greater social inclusion and dignity for people with disability and their families. Where such facilities do not currently exist, the only way a carer can change an adult in an accessible toilet is on the floor. Dignity is one thing, but hygiene must be a concern in this situation.
Note that Changing Places toilets are not intended to replace Accessible Unisex Toilets – they should be installed as an addition. A Changing Places toilet does not suit all independent wheelchair users due to the pan not being near a side wall and a wall mounted grab bar.
This publication is aimed at citizens wanting to gain a better understanding of how transportation is planned so that they can contribute to better street and road planning. While this extensive handbook does not focus on universal design per se, it does focus on greater inclusion, activity and participation in public areas. Published by AARP, it is specific to North America in some of its advice, but the handbook should be of interest to anyone interested in transportation and street planning and community engagement. The many photos in the publication show some good examples.
Lindsay Perry posed this question at the ACAA/UD conference held in Melbourne October 2015. In this presentation she provides examples that relate to the classic seven principles of universal design. The second part of her presentation contains a quick survey of friends, family and work colleagues. She asked them, “When you go out for the day, what is the main thing you rely on to be able to travel through and navigate the built environment? What irritates you?” The responses all relate to wayfinding – knowing where you are and having signs that make sense. Download the PDF of the presentation here. Lindsay Perry is Team Leader at Philip Chun Group.
Prof Ed Steinfeld’s keynote address at the ACAA/UD Conference in Melbourne included an outline of the rationale for his inclusive housing pattern book. The book covers both home and urban design elements as well as architectural elements. He argued that in the same way that we transitioned from barrier-free to accessibility, we now need to move to more inclusive and universally designed built forms. Download the PDF of his presentation here.(2.5 MB)
Steve Maslin has a blog page with an interesting post about designing dementia friendly environments. He makes a good point when he says that, “the pursuit of inclusion is as much about informing and enabling those who are unawares – as it is about including people with particular needs.” This helps “the unawares” to take the issues seriously, particularly designers. The engagement process is paramount to success. He explains for key areas:
Sensory, social and spatial characteristics of an environment
Orientation (in time and space) within an environment
Safeguarding within an environment
Neurological and psychological aspects of physical and sensory interactions
Anecdotally, some people find highly reflective floors look wet and slippery; locked doorways are distressing – so if a door leads only to a store then don’t draw attention to it; and audible and visual fire alarms can be un-conducive to safety during emergencies. Dappled light and shadows causing stripes are confusing, and black mats at doorways look like a hole in the ground.
The Wayfinding Systems and Auditchecklist provides guidance for designing wayfinding systems. Included is the application of tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI), signage and graphic communication, auditory communication, maps and more. Although it was published in 2007, most of the information still holds. New thoughts are entering discussions for improvements, for example, how dappled shade in outdoor areas may be confusing for some people. However, it is a good guide for getting started in this area which entails a mix of Australian Standards, thoughtful design, and end user convenience. Wayfinding is often an afterthought applied to designs instead of being integragted into the design process in the early stages. (The cognitive equivalent of the tacked on ramp?).
The contrast of the straight black line can be useful for people with low vision. Even new footpaths on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores are laid in this way using traditional materials for the mosaic patterning.
This video shows how the simulator labs at the Toronto Research Centre are used for various aspects of improving rehabilitation programs. The winter lab simulates icy footpaths and high winds, the street scene lab simulates the cognitive complexities for driving and walking, and the staircase lab shows how important a handrail is for preventing falls. There is also a dwelling setup and a hospital room set up – both of which have led to improvements in design features.
Having trouble convincing others that universal design is for everyone and not just ‘disabled’ design’? This 6 minute video brings to the fore some of the basic design considerations from the perspective of a family group attempting an everyday activity of leaving the house and catching a bus. It also goes through the process of how to design for everyone. The video was produced by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. It has closed captions.