One of the first centres for universal design was set up in Japan, so it is no real surprise that Japan Airlines is pushing Boeing to re-think aircraft and air travel design especially as they not only employ many older workers, they also want to appeal to the older traveller. Anthropologist Kenneth C Erickson writes a very interesting chapter on this in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, which is available from Google books. He covers the whole travel experience from a user perspective using ethnographic techniques. It seems that Boeing, in trying to make the flight experience more convenient, might be adopting universal design principles without perhaps realising it. Here is an an excerpt from the latter part of the text:
“Boeing knows how important it is to see where you are, where you are going, and what things look like outside the airplane window. They’ve reconfigured the interior of the new Dreamliner so that windows are … roughly eye-level. The carbon-fiber fuselage allows greater structural strength and affords bigger windows, while light-sensitive glass obviates the need for those window shades that used to be difficult for passengers to manage […] And although we think of Boeing as making only the airplane, they also make jet-bridges and some of the display technology that shows seat availability for passengers waiting at the gate. This is evidence that Boeing already knows that air travel does not begin when passengers enter the plane; it is not inconceivable that they may broaden their view of travel further and include the entire process of baggage handling, making it, too, more transparent. […] And the work of flight attendants on the ground and in the air … can be made visible and appreciated, so they in turn may see and appreciate those whose bodies – and luggage – they care for. That’s where universal design fosters a good kind of globalization: through it we recognize our common, traveling humanity, and the difference between the temporarily able-bodied and the other dissolves, for a time, into thin air.”
The title of the chapter is, Able to Fly: Temporality, Visibility & the Disabled Airline Passenger, in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, 2016
Air travel has seen significant growth in recent years, but many of the issues of accessibility and inclusion have yet to be resolved. Some horror stories are reported in the media, but this has not resulted in the changes needed for worry-free journeys for all. Getting from the drop off point to the aircraft seat is fraught with many potential obstacles. Carina Campese et al describe their visits to assistive technology companies and trade fairs to find appropriate equipment that airlines might use to make life easier for people experiencing difficulty with mobility, hearing and vision. They have some good recommendations for airlines and airport authorities based on their research. They acknowledge that staff training is also an essential element and will be the subject of subsequent research. The sea plane pictured indicates some of the difficulties airlines face in embracing accessibility for all.
Thirty years ago, Curitiba’s forward-thinking and cost-conscious planners integrated public transportation into all the other elements of the urban planning system. They initiated a system that focused on meeting the transportation needs of all people. Consequently they claim to have a system that is both efficient and accessible.
While the tube shaped bus shelters seem a little cumbersome being raised up to be level with the bus entry, they shelter travellers from the weather and create a relatively level entry to and from the bus. They also claim that time spent at each stop is less than 30 seconds. Read more about the planning of this rapid transport system in southern Brazil. It should be noted that this is not common practice in other parts of Brazil. See this paper for the other side of the story and for a case study on the accessibility (or otherwise) of a local hospital.
Lee Wilson provides us with yet another informative article in Sourceable where he lists the key features of good wayfinding. He also discusses the new technologies and laments that little information, if any, is included in the new Draft Wayfinding Standard . Wayfinding is not just a matter of good signage – it is much more than that.
For those of us who will never know which way is North, architectural cues, symbols and signs are essential for reading and understanding the environment and being able to get around safely and easily.
This publication is aimed at citizens wanting to gain a better understanding of how transportation is planned so that they can contribute to better street and road planning. While this extensive handbook does not focus on universal design per se, it does focus on greater inclusion, activity and participation in public areas. Published by AARP, it is specific to North America in some of its advice, but the handbook should be of interest to anyone interested in transportation and street planning and community engagement. The many photos in the publication show some good examples.
Download the publication from 8-80 cities website
The main website also has many other resources.
Train and bus access is a lot easier in Perth than Sydney. I liked the level, no gap entry to the train carriages and the wayfinding signage. Here are some pics I took while in Perth for the 2015 National Housing Conference.
Jane Bringolf, Editor
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. This links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.
Having trouble convincing others that universal design is for everyone and not just ‘disabled’ design’?
This 6 minute video brings to the fore some of the basic design considerations from the perspective of a family group attempting an everyday activity of leaving the house and catching a bus. It also goes through the process of how to design for everyone. The video was produced by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. It has closed captions.
This publication contains a chapter on page 97 by Olav Bringa. His work is the forerunner to the landmark document “Norway Universally Designed by 2025”. It gives an overview of the change processes needed to bring about a change in attitude from inclusion being a “social services job” to “everyone’s job”.
Other chapters cover different areas and are also interesting to read. Although it was published in 2007, most topics are still current due to the slow movement on the issues. Included within the 9 chapters are: The Seven Principles of Universal Design in Planning Practice; Universal Design in Transportation; and Inclusive Housing and Neighbourhood Design. Download the publication here.
Download Norway Universally Designed by 2025
Book reviews can provide useful information in their own right. The link to this review in the Journal of Planning, Education and Research only gives the first page as the full version requires library access or payment to access. However, it provides sufficient insights to the book to show that this is a comprehensive guide for anyone involved in street design.