I interviewed four wheelchair users who had recently built a home as part of my PhD research project. I was interested in the process and the interaction with house-building professionals. In coming newsletters I will feature the other three interviews. This week it is Mike’s Story. He tells how he engaged an architect because he had little confidence in a project home builder understanding what he wanted. However, this did not result in plain sailing.
Beth Tauke, Megan Basnak, and Sue Weidermann from the University at Buffalo presented their research on the incorporation or otherwise of universal design in architectural education at the 3rd International Conference on Design Education Researchers. The paper can be downloadedfrom ResearchGate.
Abstract: The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability. Despite changing demographics and an aging world population, it seems that architecture programs in U.S. universities have been slow to incorporate universal design (UD) into their curricula. In an effort to gain a better understanding of the current state of UD content in architecture curricula, researchers distributed an online survey to architectural educators and administrators in 120 U.S. institutions with accredited degree programs. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), consisted of qualitative and quantitative questions that sought information related to the understanding, attitudes, and incorporation of UD into each participant’s curriculum. Reponses were obtained from 463 participants representing 104 of the 120 surveyed schools. Quantitative analyses found relationships between perceived attitudes of administrators, faculty, and students and the effectiveness of UD components. Results also showed great variability across schools in terms of how, when (course level), and the degree to which UD aspects were incorporated into programs. Qualitative findings revealed valuable insight into potential ways to increase the relevancy of UD in architecture curricula.
While this book chapter is about assistive technology (social acceptance of walking aids and devices) it focuses on the importance of acceptable design so that they will be more universally acceptable to both the user and others. Walking aids are essential for keeping people on their feet safely and comfortably. However, the stigma attached to these usually unattractive object prevents people from using them. Assistive technology intersects with universal design – in some cases both are needed – the walking aid as well as the step free entrance for full access and ability to participate. Andrew Mcneill and Lynne Coventry explored the issues and the solutions. The chapter can be dowloaded from Research Gate.
What kind of signs inform and appeal to zoo visitors most? This was an answer Michael D W Richards at Salford University, UK wanted to know. Using qualitative and quantative research methods he found the answer. It seems the photographic signs were most popular, but that is not the whole story. Download his article to find out more.
Michael D W Richards presents an interesting article on the need to standardize zoo signage, particularly DO NOT FEED signs. He concludes, “To achieve this goal they should utilise a design which is reliant on both imagery and text to convey a message, with imagery at the forefront of the design. A human hand, an item of food and an image of an animal should be displayed. … When imagery and text is displayed on feeding restriction signs, all visitors benefit. This form of provision should not be seen as excessively catering for the needs of marginal groups. Rather it should be viewed as an approach that represents a heterogeneous society, increasing access to information and enjoyment for all, through engaging signage.” This article is a part of a series about zoo accessibility.
This well designed Poster presentationis from Hasselt University in Belgium. Merging Inclusive Design and Energy Efficiency as a disruptive approach to housing renovation takes the position that comfort can be a unifying way of looking at both energy efficiency and inclusive design. The authors conclude: “When the concept of comfort is expanded to include the a full range of spatial, usability, and cognitive aspects, the merging of ID and EE can offer inhabitants a more complete sense of comfort, and by doing so increasing adoption of both types of measures, in line with wider governmental and societal goals.”
Abstract. There is a pressing need for housing renovations that both accommodate lifelong living and significantly increase energy efficiency. Much research has been done on both Inclusive design (ID), particularly in the context of accessibility, and energy efficiency (EE). However, they are treated independently and faced with limited adoption. A simultaneous renovation for ID and EE might lead to renovation concepts that better fulfil the residents’ desire for comfort in addition to savings in money and time. Comfort is an important driver for both types of renovations. As a result when the concept of comfort is expanded to include also spatial/usability, social, cognitive and cultural aspects, the merging of ID and EE can offer residents a more complete sense of comfort, thereby increasing the adoption of both ID and EE.
This 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. It links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.
“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.”
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.
This 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.