Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guidelines

Tokyo Olympic and Parlympic Games logosJapan has committed to the adoption of universal design in preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.  This has been well received by the International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven: “Universal design will promote a barrier-free attitude among the people of Japan and make for more accessibility facilities. I hope through this place we will see the marrying of Japan’s strong traditions with the innovative culture that is world renowned for in order to make for a more inclusive society.”

As part of the preparations, the Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guide has been published and can be acquired by emailing the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Inclusive design for Getting Outdoors: I’DGO

page from the brochure showing an older woman wearing a mid blue blouse walking down the streetThe Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors research project in the UK has discovered many of the factors that encourage people, especially older people, to get out and about and keep doing so. The project is now complete, but they have kept a legacy website with lots of information and resources and a short video. Unfortunately the video isn’t captioned. They continue to maintain a Twitter account for the continuation of the work through the networks that were developed during the project. While this project focused on older people, a well designed environment is good for everyone.

You can download a quick overview of their work in a PDF file (1.6MB). Once again, this research raises the importance of footpaths – having footpaths and having them maintained to avoid trip hazards. Below is an except from the Key Messages in the Overview:

“The desire to get out and about does not diminish in older age, nor does the variety of activities people like to do outdoors. If older people live in an environment that makes it easy and enjoyable for them to go outdoors, they are more likely to be physically active and satisfied with life and twice as likely to achieve the recommended levels of healthy walking. The same is true for those who live within ten minutes’ walk of a park. The pedestrian experience is vitally important to older people, who are most often on foot when out and about. For the many who find it difficult to get around, it is often due to the poor design, provision, installation or upkeep of neighbourhood features, especially footways.” 


Get me out of here!

Green emergency egress signs showing running figure and wheelchair figureEmergency evacuations are tricky at the best of times, but when you find steps and stairs difficult or just impossible, what do you do? According to Lee Wilson in Sourceable magazine, Australian building legislation has generally steered clear of promoting the use of refuge areas in commercial buildings. The preferred method of evacuation for people with mobility difficulties is a fire rated evacuation lift. However, this is a costly solution and therefore not widely adopted. But the refuge area hasn’t been properly adopted either. Read Lee Wilson’s article for the Australian regulatory situation, and how Australia fares with other nations and their accessible means of access. Also go to the link at the end of the article about individual workplace PEEPs (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans). They play an essential role in emergency situations.

Photo credit to Loughborough University  


Neighbourhood design important for inclusion

shows roof tops of a development in a greenfield area. Photo taken from the top of a hill looking downA recent article published in The Conversation about inclusive communities suggests neighbourhood and urban planning have a key role in promoting diversity, and through diversity comes safety and inclusiveness. This is particularly the case for adults with an intellectual disability.

The authors stress the “main issue is not the type of accommodation, but its location. The neighbourhood, its design, and the community of people who live there are all significant factors for supporting safety and inclusion.” And surprisingly the exclusion of cars (in terms of thoroughfares) via a return to the cul-de-sac is seen as a significant design principle to reconsider for inclusive neighbourhoods. Preliminary results found three critical aspects for designing an inclusive neighbourhood:

  1. actual and perceived safety within the street and neighbourhood
  2. access to services and amenities via walking, cycling or public transport
  3. inclusion in community life and local neighbourhood activity.

This post was submitted by Nicholas Loder, Deputy Chair, CUDA.


Architecture that’s built to heal

Michael Murphy doing his Ted talkHospitals and and other health facilities are meant to make us well. But are they designed with healing in mind? Michael Murphy’s TED talk critiques the design of spaces for healing. He asks, “if hospitals are making people sicker, where are the architects and designers to help us build and design hospitals that allow us to heal?” Michael’s talk begins with how his father’s illness caused him to study architecture.

Watch the 15 minute video in the link below. A transcript is also available:


Down syndrome and building design

a young man with Down syndrome sits at a computer workstation. He is wearing a white shirt and patterned tie. there are other workers at workstations in the background.People with Down syndrome sometimes experience space in public and home environments in a different way to others. A study of people with Down syndrome carried out in Belgium revealed some very interesting results. For example, the separation of spaces is not always clear if there is no architectural delineation. Participants showed a preference for brightness, large windows, and illuminated objects and surfaces. Privacy of space was also important, particularly quiet space. Familiar landmarks and furniture were also important. The discussion section of the paper provides more insights that could help designers consider the intellectual perspectives of users, and not just for people with Down syndrome. The paper also makes links to universal design.

The title of the paper is, “Inclusion of Down Syndrome in Architectural Design: Towards a Methodology”. Authors are Clémintine Schelings and Catherine Elson from the University of Liège

You can download it in PDF (400kb) or in Word (2MB)



Planning with Lego

Picture of several children around a table covered in coloured paper and legoChildren are not often considered in planning processes except in terms of playgrounds, schools, child care and skateparks. Part of the process of designing universally is to include people of all ages in the plan or design. A recent article in Fifth Estate reports on a workshop in which children were encouraged to create spaces and places that they like. With medium and high density becoming the norm in many Australian cities, children’s backyards and activity centres will be the streets and public spaces of the city. The same can also be said for their parents and grandparents. Making sure everyone is catered for is the ultimate goal of Universal Design.

See also Knee-High: Pop up Parks from the Design Council in the UK.