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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Access Award Winners

Facade of the National Maritime MuseumThe inaugural NSW Access and Inclusion Awards were announced recently. The winner of the non-residential category was the Australian National Maritime Museum.  It shows the interpretive displays which are interactive. Tactile solutions, a hearing loop and captioning are used throughout along with multi-language subtitling. The wharf is now accessible as well. The architect was Francis-Jones Morehen and Thorp, the Access Consultant was Mark Relf, Accessibility Solutions, and the Builder was Stephen Edwards Constructions.

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Wet n Wild Sydney wins award

Red and yellow striped tubes twisted with blue and yellow tubes with a big water slideWet n Wild Sydney is the recipient of an accessible outdoor public domain award for 2017. The newly established awards were jointly organised by the Association of Consultants in Access Australia and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. The two other categories were residential and non-residential. Architects were the Buchan Group, and the access consultants were Howard Moutrie and Farah Madon. The builder was Lipman. The video below shows how well people are included in the water play activities and the other attractions in the park. All are having fun. An excellent example of inclusion.

You can access another water park example, Morgan Inspiration Island

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Transgender, recreation and inclusion

10 balloons of different colours float on the surface of a swimming poolPeople who identify as transgender are often concerned about their safety in public recreation situations. Dreaming About Access: The Experiences of Transgender Individuals in Public Recreation is a report of the qualitative research undertaken by Linda Oakleaf and Laurel P. Richmond. Designing universally for inclusion of people who identify as transgender is not just about participation, it also affirms their worth and dignity. At the end of the executive summary they say,

“Practitioners who wish to translate data from this study into policy should focus on two areas: removing barriers to access, and affirmatively encouraging participation. The barriers discussed most often by participants related to public/private spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Practitioners should ensure that all locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers allow for privacy. As is frequently the case with  niversal design, this will benefit many users who are not transgender. While the best practice would be to provide gender neutral spaces, at a minimum there should be at least one stall with a door in each bathroom and curtains or other barriers in all showers. Policies and procedures should affirmatively include participants across the gender spectrum and should be aimed at increasing participation.”

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Access to natural waterfront landscapes

Timber planked pier leading to the oceanNatural landscapes generally receive less attention than landscape architecture. So it is good to see that three Hungarian researchers have taken a serious look at the issues. Their study took the perspective of tourism and looked at tourist habits, and list some of the factors that need to be specifically considered for accessible waterfront landscapes, including beaches. The list of factors covers mobility, vision, and hearing. Parking and approach, jetties, pontoons, bathing, and fishing are all discussed. Several photographs show good examples of accessibility.

The authors conclude that waterfront landscapes are popular tourist destinations for everyone. As these are sensitive ecosystems, minimal interventions should be applied when providing access. Small adaptations and just careful design can ensure good access for everyone. “If inclusive design and nature conservation principles are taken into consideration from the very beginning of the whole design process, access to waterfront landscapes can be spreaded [sic], and the natural values of the landscape remain existing and provide the experience of nature for the human race.

The title of the article is “Access to Waterfront Landscapes for Tourists Living with Disabilities by Gabriella Szaszák , Albert Fekete and Tibor Kecskés

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Inclusive Meetings and Events

front cover of Accessible Events guide. purple with white writingMany event managers and venues have yet to get their head around their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act. While many public buildings may have access through the front door and accessible toilet, this does not make for an inclusive event. Did anyone think about a handrail on the steps to the podium, a lower lectern for a seated speaker, or what to do with the guide dog?

Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbook on accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. However, it appears only to be available to members of the Association and is not visible on their web home page. Nevertheless, a Google search will also find the Accessible Events Guide.  The Guide also has a checklist at the end. 

front cover access events vic gov.Free to access guides include the Victorian Government guide and checklist. This one uses easy access English as well, so the guide itself is accessible, and covers the role of MC and speakers. Also the West Australian Government checklist is available.

Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.

Editor’s Note: While trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use. 

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Inclusive event and meeting guides

front cover of Accessible Events guide. purple with white writingFully accessible venues can still be difficult to find. Getting in the door and having an accessible toilet is only the start. Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Indeed, while trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use.

Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbook on accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. However, it appears only to be available to members of the Association and is not visible on their web home page. Nevertheless, a Google search will find the Accessible Events Guide.  The Guide also has a checklist at the end. 

front cover access events vic gov.Free to access guides include the Victorian Government guide and checklist. This one uses easy access English as well, so the guide itself is accessible, and covers the role of MC and speakers. Also the West Australian Government checklist is available.

Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.

Editor’s Note: In my experience, some event operators aren’t aware that they have to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

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