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 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.
This publication contains a chapter on page 97 by Olav Bringa. His work is the forerunner to the landmark document “Norway Universally Designed by 2025“. It gives an overview of the change processes needed to bring about a change in attitude from inclusion being a “social services job” to “everyone’s job”. Other chapters cover different areas. Although it was published in 2007, most topics are still current due to the slow movement on the issues. Included within the 9 chapters are: The Seven Principles of Universal Design in Planning Practice; Universal Design in Transportation; and Inclusive Housing and Neighbourhood Design.
Book reviews can provide useful information in their own right. The link to this review in the Journal of Planning, Education and Research only gives the first page as the full version requires library access or payment to access. However, it provides sufficient insights to the book to show that this is a comprehensive guide for anyone involved in street design.
Hearing augmentation can seem a bit too technical to understand, but Clearasound has a set of fact sheets that cover all the different types and different situations when each one should be used. Too often systems do not work or are not turned on and there is a lot of confusion as to how these systems operate. The best way to test a system to see if it is working is to ask someone who is wearing a hearing aid with a ‘T’ switch. Clearasound is one company that has a technical manager who wears such a hearing aid. This seems the only way to be sure that the system is connected properly, switched on and functioning. Too many systems fail to work even when technicians claim they do. Here are some of the fact sheets on the Clearasound site.
A short paper by Kalevi Rantanen shows how to combine the principles of universal design and design-for-all with the 40 principles of TRIZ. It gives another perspective on how to apply the principles of universal design in a problem solving context.
The title of the paper is, “Homes for Strong Families, Children, Seniors and All Others. How Universal Design, Design for All and Forty Principles of TRIZ Enforce Each Other”.
The 40 Principles of TRIZ are a list of simple, and easy to learn rules for solving technical and non-technical problems quickly and simply. Studying these existing solutions can inspire people to solve new problems and imagine innovative solutions. They show how and where others have successfully eliminated contradictions and take us to the proven, powerful recorded solutions contained in the patent database. These 40 Inventive Principles may be used to help solve both technical and non-technical problems.
This handbook edited by Danise Levine was published in 2003 by the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, University at Buffalo. It provides guidance for all aspects of an urban environment as well as temporary lodging, workplace facilities and human service facilities. It also lists seven myths about universal design and shows how they are just myths:
1. There are only a small number of people who benefit
2. Universal design only helps people with disability and older people
3. Legislation for disability rights have created equality, so no need to do more
4. Improved medical technology is reducing the incidence of functional limitation
5. Universal design cannot sustain itself in the marketplace because the people who need it most cannot afford it
6. Universal design is simply good ergonomic design
7. Universal design cost even more than accessible design
Download Universal Design: New York pdf
The Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them across all policies to create maximum inclusion. This makes everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT. In 2008, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, launched its first Action Plan 2009-2013, which sets the goal of Norway being universally designed by 2025. In 2010, Norway amended its Planning and Building Act to include universal design. In 2016, The Delta Centre was given responsibility, and funding, to coordinate the actions in the 2015-2019 plan. This plan is more comprehensive and covers ICT and communications to a more detailed level. This is in recognition of how we are becoming more reliant on digital applications.