Landscaping a walkway: A case study

A distant view of the place and gate showing the winding path, steps and sitting areasIn this case study, landscape architect Johan Østengen, explains the problem of adapting a city space and a heritage wall and gate on a sloping site into a pleasant place to walk, and to have informal get-togethers. The height difference of seven metres was the main challenge, but with some universal design thinking to drive the design they were able to come up with a successful inclusive and accessible design. For more of this story about this universally designed open space and the difficulties they had to overcome, go to the Inclusive Design Norway website for the article on the Schandorff Walkway. Several photos illustrate the final design. 

Editor’s Note: Norway has almost no flat land and is at the forefront of rolling out universal design everywhere. So the myth that you can’t do UD on sloping sites is put to bed.

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Soccer from a deaf-blind perspective

Five football players stand waiting for play to start. Three are dressed in red and blue, two in white and the goalkeeper in black. The grass is very greenWith the FIFA World Cup approaching, the report of a case study from Canada of a deaf-blind person enjoying a soccer match is timely. Using an iterative user testing process a system was developed for sighted spectators to use to interpret the game from a visual to a tactile modality. This research will go a long way towards describing games where spatial relations are key to the experience. The title of the article is, Inclusive Design as a Source of Innovation: A Case Study & Prototype on Soccer Spectatorship, by Felipe Sarmiento. You can access a copy of the article from the Secured tab and sending an email request to OCAD University Open Research Repository for a PDF copy.  

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Inclusive play is an international concept

A distant picture of a playground with shade sails and sand on the ground. A large low blue platform has a yellow hump on it. Children and parents are actively playingLots of pictures tell the story of inclusive play in this article from Turkey. The concept of inclusive play spaces is not new to Australia. The article is comprehensive and goes into some of the details that need to be considered including ground treatments. Interestingly, the Australian invention, Liberty Swing, makes an appearance in the article. It has lost popularity in Australia because it is not inclusive. It is, however, accessible for wheelchair users under supervision, but as it is fenced off and needs a key to operate, other designs have taken favour with designers and play space users. And that goes beyond just swings. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, such as group homes, the Liberty Swing can be appropriate. Examples from America and Australia are used and there are links to other resources in the reference list. One that has lots of information and pictures is the Together We Play website.  For more on Australian inclusive play spaces, see Touched by Olivia Foundation.The NSW Government is actively promoting inclusive play spaces with its Everyone Can Play in NSW Project.

 

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Tactile or 3D?

A metal model showing a town layout in relief with Braille on buildings and streets. There is a church and lots of houses and a town square represented.Three researchers from Monash University carried out a study to see if 3D printed models offered more information than tactile graphics such as maps. There were some interesting findings that were presented in a conference paper. The abstract gives a good overview:

Abstract: Tactile maps are widely used in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training for people with blindness and severe vision impairment. Commodity 3D printers now offer an alternative way to present accessible graphics, however it is unclear if 3D models offer advantages over tactile equivalents for 2D graphics such as maps. In a controlled study with 16 touch readers, we found that 3D models were preferred, enabled the use of more easily understood icons, facilitated better short term recall and allowed relative height of map elements to be more easily understood. Analysis of hand movements revealed the use of novel strategies for systematic scanning of the 3D model and gaining an overview of the map. Finally, we explored how 3D printed maps can be augmented with interactive audio labels, replacing less practical braille labels. Our findings suggest that 3D printed maps do indeed offer advantages for O&M training. 

Paradoxically, the freely available PDF version is in two columns and in Times New Roman font – both aspects that are not recommended for people with low vision or for screen readers. The full title of the paper is, “Accessible Maps for the Blind: Comparing 3D Printed Models with Tactile Graphics”.  You can see a related article that found 3D models helped everyone’s understanding.

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Captioning – how is it done?

Front page of the video - deep yellow background with white text and an Auslan interpreter is standing readyThe Australian Government has produced an interesting video showing how captioning is done. It is a behind the scenes look and captioners tell how they do it. You can see them at their desks in action. One point of interest is that programs made overseas often have captions, but they don’t always come with the program when a network buys it. Intellectual property rights become problematic and in the end it is often quicker and cheaper to re-do the captions here in Australia. So that might account for why SBS is more likely to have uncaptioned programs than some other networks – unless they are subtitled of course. It is worth noting in live captioning situations that the captioner has to be able to hear the speaker and manage the speed of their speech. Good reason to speak up, speak clearly and not talk too fast. Good for other listeners and lip readers too! There is a second video showing how to turn captions on.  Note: automatic captions by Google can’t interpret speech properly and there is no punctuation. Some people call this “craptioning”. 

 

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Bush-wheeling with a Sherpa guide

View of the back of a volunteer Sherpa wearing a dark green shirt and shorts pushing the special equipment in a ferny gullyParks Victoria is leading the way with their approach to making sure all visitors can enjoy the natural environment on their park trails in the Dandenong Ranges. Volunteers act as Sherpas and use specially designed equipment that provides a comfortable ride for wheelchair users. The equipment can be borrowed by family members and friends as long as they have the strength and fitness to operate it. The program is also available in the Gampians.  The short video below gives a good idea of the equipment and the user experience. There is also an article and more pictures on the ABC websiteThanks to Bill Forrester’s blog for this one.

 

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Easy Access to Historic Landscapes – A guide

Front cover of the guide with four pictures of people in different historic locationsHistoric landscapes, gardens and open spaces are there for everyone to enjoy. Historic England has produced a guide for anyone working to open up historic sites to a wider audience by providing easier access for all visitors. This revised edition of the 2005 guide promotes an inclusive approach to ensure that every visitor to an historic park, garden or landscape has a meaningful experience – not just physical access. Property owners and managers designers, and planners should find the guide helpful in tackling all aspects of the visitor experience. The key elements of the guide are:

1. Why access matters

2. Planning better access

3. Making access a reality

4. Published sources of information

5. Where to get advice  

This is a companion to Easy Access to Historic Buildings.  
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Access Consultants’ Newsletter: A focus on play

Front Cover of the magazine showing a girl in a power chair in the Port Macquarie ParkThe latest issue of the ACAA Access Insight Newsletter has a focus on play spaces with two articles and a review of a report on Livvi’s Place at Port Macquarie. The report is the result of research by the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University. One of the findings is that a well designed inclusive play space can become a visitor attraction – a destination that can be added to the list of local tourist attractions. Nick Loder writes a thoughtful piece on culture change for design with a focus on housing standards and universal design. World Braille Day and some technical advice on the size of accessible public toilets also feature along with general association material for members. It can be read online or downloaded in PDF.

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What a difference a car makes

Shows a man on a modified ag bike just about to take off.Vehicle modifications allow many people with physical disability to drive their own vehicles and get on with life in the same way as non-disabled people. There are two parts to this post: an academic article by Simon Darcy on private modified vehicles, and a practical video by IDEAS showcasing the benefits of modifications for two individuals. The video, alarmingly, also shows the amount of NDIS money spent on vehicle modifications in the last few years. Time for the vehicle design industry to wake up and design better for adaption? Nicely put together video reminds everyone of what can be achieved with the right equipment and a well designed environment.

The article by Simon Darcy and Paul Francis Burke is titled, On the road again: The barriers and benefits of automobility for people with disability.  It looks at private vehicles rather than public transport. See down the page for the abstract .

Abstract: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (PWD) has been signed by over 160 nations to achieve greater social participation, with public and private transport clearly identified as an area to improve accessibility. Whilst the majority of scholarly work has focused on public transport needs, less research has examined the barriers or benefits of access to private modified vehicles for PWD. In this exploratory study, a Delphi technique with health experts, researchers, drivers and funding agencies developed an instrument to examine the barriers and benefits of access to private modified vehicles for PWD. An online survey was completed by 287 drivers and carers to report on barriers to private modified vehicles, whilst a sub-set of 190 drivers with access to a private modified vehicle reported on experientially derived benefits. A factor analytic approach identified how financial and informational barriers vary with respect to several characteristics including disability type and level of support needs. Factors relating to independence, social and recreational benefits are perceived as more valued experientially derived benefits relative to benefits relating to employability and ability to enjoy downtime. Benefits in the form of independence are greater among drivers and owners, those with an acquired condition, less complex mobility and everyday support needs, whilst little difference emerged in terms of the social and downtime benefits. The findings inform policy development and funding opportunities to provide insight and evidence into the barriers, but also benefits and variation in private transport needs among PWD.

You will need institutional access or be a member of ResearchGate for a free read. It can be purchased from Science Direct.

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Kids Play: A new standard

The NSW Government has announced it will be developing a set of guidelines for all councils to follow when it comes to kids’ play spaces. The aim is to ensure everyone can enjoy playgrounds and play spaces within five years. Funding will be provided to NSW councils to assist with retrofitting existing parks. They are to be assessed against universal design principles. The Touched by Olivia Foundation (Livvi’s Place) has been leading the charge on this topic for some time. It is good to see their efforts being supported by the Government in this way. There will be consultations with stakeholders in the process of developing the guidelines which will be launched next year. There are two press releases on this topic: Liberal Party media release, and a NSW Government media release. It also go picked up by Global Accessibility News.  

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