Inclusive play spaces: Yes I can.

children and adults are on a spinner. Some children are siting and one person is in a wheelchair. There are three seats on the spinner as well.The arrival of Liberty Swing showed that children with disability should be considered in play spaces. But play space design has come a long way since their introduction. Children like to play together and it was the Touched by Olivia Foundation that started a grass roots movement to move from isolated and exclusive equipment to designs where all children could interact. ABC News has more on this story.

To help people with the concepts and design of inclusive play spaces, NSW Government has devised Everyone Can Play guideline. This document takes inclusive thinking a step further and considers parents and grandparents. Convenience for carers are key for getting children to the play spaces and the amount of time they spend playing. There are three key elements that must be considered in an inclusive play space: Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?  These three elements basically sum up a universal design approach to almost anything. The short video sums up the concepts.

See also the post on Camp Manyung for the ultimate in inclusion.

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Game changers for sports events?

An action shot of two women grappling for the football. One is wearing yellow, the other white.What will it take to make major sports events and associated tourism services more accessible? A new Australian study seeks the answer to this question. Researchers used the 2015 FIFA Womens World Cup event in Canada as a case study to analyse the situation and to see what needs to be done. The article is titled, “Inclusive by design: transformative services and sport-event accessibility”.  Access via Tandfonline or you can request a copy from the lead researcher Tracey Dixon on ResearchGate. You can find other posts on sport and recreation on this website

Abstract: This paper examines the service dimensions required to be inclusive of people with access needs within a major-sport event context. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities seeks to counter disability discrimination and enable citizenship rights of people with disabilities, including access to goods and services, across all dimensions of social participation including major-sport events (e.g. Olympic and Paralympic Games, world cups in football, cricket and rugby union). Providing for people with disability and access needs is also an emerging tourism focus with initiatives addressing accessible tourism included in the World Tourism Organizations mission and recent strategic destination plans. To enhance the understanding of service delivery for an accessible tourism market in a major-sport event context, a case study of the Vancouver Fan Zone for the FIFA Womens World Cup Canada, 2015 TM is analyzed through the lens of transformative services. From this analysis future research directions are identified to benefit those with access needs who wish to participate in major-sport events.

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Children like it green

A group of children are walking along a path in a nature park.It’s amazing what can be done when GPS data is linked to population data. The Danish study used satellite data to show a link between growing up near green space and issues with mental health in adulthood. They found that children under 10 years who had greater access to green space may grow up to be happier adults. The FastCo article goes on to say that data was correlated between the child’s proximity to green space during childhood and that same person’s mental health later in life. The more green space they had access to, the less likely they were to have mental health issues later.

The title of this interesting article is “Kids surrounded by greenery may grow up to be happier adults“.

The study was conducted by researchers at Aarhus University. 

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Getting subtitling right

A brightly coloured film strip with the word Video on it.The European Union funded a project to find out more about subtitling and how best to do it for immersive media. Media accessibility usually focuses on users with disability, but this group chose not to go that route. Instead they took a broader section of participants. One of their conclusions fits with other findings on universal design – make it part of the design from the beginning. The findings from this research have recommendations that are good for everyone. One key point is that creation and production processes should have testing that includes users with diverse capabilities. The title of the article is From disabilities to capabilities: testing subtitles in immersive environments with end users“.  With more content being delivered online and the rise of virtual reality and other types of media, this is an important contribution to understanding how best to present current media, as well as media that will be developed in the future. 

From the Abstract:  To illustrate this point and propose a new approach to user testing in Media Accessibility in which we would move from a disability to a capability model. Testing only with people with disability brings poorer results than testing with a broader range of people. This is because subtitles (closed captions) are not just for people are deaf or hard of hearing, but for everyone. This means they should be considered a mainstream feature of video and film production, not an add on feature. The study addresses issues with vision, colour, and being able to navigate digital services to find and use the subtitles. 

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Kicking UD Goals in Sport

Two young men each with one leg and using crutches, compete for the football on the football field. Playing and watching sport is a major cultural activity in Australia. Joining a sports club or being part of the fan group brings a sense of belonging. Participating in sport has physical and mental health benefits. Kate Anderson and Susan Balandin from Deakin University write about this important topic in “Kicking a Goal for Inclusion in Sports Clubs and Stadia”. Their book chapter explains how sports providers can promote inclusion for people with disability. Taking a universal design approach they discuss three key areas: spectatorship, membership and employment. You can get institutional access via Springerlink, or you can access through ResearchGate. There are other articles on this topic in the Sport and Recreation section of this website.

Abstract: Sports participation and fandom play an important role in the personal lives and identities of many Australians, including those with disability. Participating in sport offers valuable benefits for physical and mental well-being and can enhance a person’s sense of belonging. Sports participation is recognized as a human right under article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. In addition to playing sport, people with disability have a right to be included in mainstream spectatorship and fandom activities. Despite this, many sports clubs in Australia and overseas fall short in their provisioning for people with disability and give little thought to the inclusion of people with disability as staff or volunteers. This chapter covers some of the ways in which sports providers can promote engaging and meaningful community inclusion for people with disability. We adopt a universal design perspective to showcase practical inclusion opportunities for people with disability across three key participation domains in the sporting arena: spectatorship, membership, and employment. 

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Just what is a hearing loop?

International symbol for a hearing loopThere is a lot of confusion about hearing loops and assistive listening devices. Although public venues should have the loop switched on at the same time as the microphone (because that’s how it works), there are some places that think it should only be switched on if someone asks for it. And then, sadly, all too often, that’s when they find it doesn’t work. The Listen Technologies blog post provides a comparison between three technologies used for assistive listening. It refers to a recent New York Times article A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All The Clatter which points to the many benefits of using induction loops in theatres, places of worship and other venues. As the article points out, this is not about rights, it’s about good customer service. A useful read for anyone who wants to know more about this technology.  The Clearasound website has excellent Australian resources written by someone who really understands the technology from both a user and installer’s standpoint.

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Physical Access and Sport

Access-for-all-publication-211x300An accessible and inclusive sports club sometimes requires a few physical adjustments to buildings, but more than anything it needs some forward planning and continuing commitment. Access for All: Opening Doors is a guide aimed at anyone involved in running or working in a sports club. The resource covers the main areas of physical access and leads on to other information. It is published by the Centre for Accessible Environments in the UK. Other resources are available from the Centre for Accessible Environments website – free publications section.

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Museum has UD integrated throughout

A distant aerial view of the huge arch and the park and landscapingIntegrating universal design was a priority in the redesigning of the Gateway Arch Museum in St Louis. A gently sloping plaza, architecturally integrated ramps, and engaging exhibitions. An article in the St Louis online news gives a good run-down of the features. The touchable exhibits have been a great success with everyone. The universal design concepts allow people to interact with exhibits rather than just look at them. There are other enhancements for people with disability too. The arch and the park are now easier to access by foot or bike as well. The Archinet website features a brief overview by the architects, and pictures of the museum. The timelapse video of the construction is interesting because of the landscaping of the parkland around it. 

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Designing parks that people use

A young woman and man are walking their dog in an urban park.Public parks can work their magic only if they give what people they need. People use green spaces in cities in different ways depending on their community’s historical experience and cultural standards. Access to parks is strongly linked with better health outcomes so it is important to design them in context. But the mere existence of a park does not ensure a community benefits from it. In an article for The Conversation, Thaisa Way covers the history of parks, importance of easy access and cultural relevance.  Lots of links to research papers within the article titled: “Parks work for cities, but only if people use them”. And that is a question of design. 

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Playgrounds and mental health

Four children are in an open space with buildings in the background. They are jumping in the air and holding hands .Access to play spaces can improve mental well-being as children grow up according to an article, by Alice Covatta . She argues that there is a connection between lack of play and the rise of mental health conditions. The way we design our urban areas has an impact on play in outdoor locations and this in turn either encourages or discourages play. The article expands on these concepts and uses case studies to highlight the issues and the solutions and introduce play as sustainable design. The article comes from the latest edition of Urban Design and Mental Health, which has several interesting articles.

NSW Government has published a guide to taking a universal design approach to play spaces, Everyone Can Play. 

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