Achieving full participation through UD

Achieving participation thru UDThis European report sets the scene for promoting universal design and setting an action plan in motion. Universal design is viewed as a strategy to ensure equal and democratic rights in society for all individuals. It covers participation in: political and public life; cultural life; information and communication; education; employment; the built environment; transport; community living; legal protection; research and development; and awareness raising.  Examples of good practice are also included. This links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.


Design for All Institute, India

DfA India 2014 newsletter coverWhile the DfA Institute calls this publication a newsletter, you can see by the extensive table of contents that it attracts world-wide contributions on many topics. Of note in this edition is an article by Fionnula Rogerson who reports on the Congress of the International Union of Architects held in Durban South Africa, and the inaugural award, “Friendly Spaces Accessible to All”. Australian architects Allen Kong get an Honourable Mention for the Potter Street Redevelopment in Dandenong, Victoria.

Articles with a practical focus include: an urban seating system, adaptable housing for the Greek Olympics, an inclusive kitchen, and the UD Living Lab.


UD and occupational therapists

otnowcoverThe intention of this special issue of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Now, is to provide information on the role of occupational therapy in universal design to a broad audience, including occupational therapists, health professionals, clients, policy makers, the general public and other stakeholders.

Included in this issue are two articles by Elizabeth Ainsworth and Desleigh de Jonge, who have written extensively on home modifications in Australia and internationally.  Go to the CAOT site and download the full issue to see all articles.


UD, social sustainability and interior design

Applying Universal Design concept in interior design to reinforce the Social dimension of Sustainability

This paper provides an overview of universal design applications in interior design promising results for a better future for social sustainability. The way in which universal design is presented and discussed has a particular clarity. For example, 

“Accessible, adaptable, transgenerational, and universal design Universal design is always accessible, but because it integrates accessibility from the beginning of the design process, it is less likely to be noticeable. Universal design sometimes employs adaptable strategies for achieving customization, but it is best when all choices are presented equally. Some universal design is transgenerational, but the approach is inclusive of more than just age-related disabilities. Universal design is sometimes adaptable and sometimes transgenerational but always accessible. Universal design, adaptable design, and transgenerational design are all subsets of accessible design. Sometimes a design can be considered to be two of these subsets, and some designs are all three. Not all accessible design is universal. Universal design is the most inclusive and least stigmatizing of the three types of accessible design because it addresses all types of human variation and accessibility is integrated into design solutions.”

The conclusion of the paper is, “The students in all schools of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and urban design should become aware of the values, concepts and philosophy of universal design at every level of their education program, beginning from the early stages of design education to the graduate and also post-graduate level. Use techniques to create the understanding and demand of Universal Design concepts by educating the politicians of the need to create environments that encourage independence.”


Enabling everything: scale, disability and the film The Theory of Everything

This article by Vickie Gauci and Anne-Marie Callus has open access and is free to download.  It discusses access and inclusion from the perspective of Stephen Hawking as portrayed in the recent film, The Theory of Everything.  As Hawking says, “In twenty years, men may be able to live on the Moon. In forty years we may get to Mars. In the next 200 years we may leave the solar system and head for the stars. But meanwhile, we would like to get to the supermarket, the cinema, restaurants.”

Abstract: This article looks at the representation of scale in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, identifying moments that relate to three concerns: firstly, how disabled people experience scale issues at an all too practical level in daily life; secondly, how Hawking’s experience of scale at the level of both body and mind is (a)typical of the way it is experienced by disabled people generally; and, thirdly, how a focus on the film can prompt some rethinking of perspectives both within disability studies and within the conceptualisation of scale more broadly.



UD and graphic identity: a research method

Alex Bitterman and Beth Tauke undertook a world-wide survey in 2007 in an effort to establish a universal design icon that could be used and interpreted regardless of language or culture. Australia was included in their original research. The process they used is documented in a more recent publication by Alex Bitterman arguing that this method could be applied to the development and design of places, spaces, services and products. Download Alex’s paper here.

Abstract: Data, both qualitative and quantitative, which represents the physical, cognitive and situational abilities of the global population are inconsistent and are not centrally collected by any one international source. Moreover, the definition of ‘disability’ is relative and is linked uniquely to culture. This fluidity makes difficult the standardization of a definitive definition of disability, problematic to quantify and the goal of universal design elusive. Some statistical estimates place the number of disabled persons between 20 and 60 per cent of the world population, the normalization and aggregation of disability statistics remains a low priority for most international governing bodies and this gap in knowledge impacts the ability of designers to adequately consider the needs and abilities of all users when designing places, spaces, products, services and systems. This research note puts forth one potential testing model for systems of visual communication and information-based graphics and graphic systems for a universal design identity system as well as a discussion of the results from the first use of this testing model.


Spatial Experiences of Dwarves – research paper

coverThis article comes from the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research.

Abstract:  Dwarfism is commonly defined as anyone 4ft 10″ (147.32 cm) or below and whose short stature involves a medical condition [Adelson, M. B. 2005. The Lives of Dwarfs, xv. NJ: Rutgers University Press]. Whilst it recognized that the built environment is unsuitable for dwarfs [see Kruse, R. 2002. “Social Spaces of Little People: The Experiences of the Jamisons.” Social and Cultural Geography 3 (2): 175–191, Kruse, R. 2010. “Placing Little People: Dwarfism and Geographies of Everyday Life.” In Towards Enabling Geographies, edited by V. Chouinard, E. Hall, and R. Wilton, 183–198. Surrey: Ashgate; Shakespeare, T., M. Wright, and S. Thompson. 2007. A Small Matter of Equality: Living with Restricted Growth. Newcastle: Newcastle University], this paper critically examines how spaces and facilities designed with other users in mind, including disabled people and children, can have unintended consequences for dwarfs. The data used in this paper are taken from semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation exercises conducted with 22 dwarfs living in the UK. Overall this paper shows the spatial experiences of dwarfs, which are a result of the unintended consequences of disabled child spaces and facilities, and suggests how Universal Design may be a more appropriate design concept. You will need academic library access for the full paper or it can be purchased. Here is the link.