Tactile models popular with everyone

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.Tactile models of buildings and spaces are made with blind people in mind to help them orientate in unfamiliar surroundings. Many are found in tourist destinations where they can also provide information about the building or space itself. It turns out that sighted people like to use them and touch them too. While this can cause some problems with inappropriate use, there is another, unexpected up side. The author argues that tactile models may become a “completely valuable, universal tool for learning and a great way of studying architecture in an alternative way”. The article reports on a study of this perspective of tactile models. This is another example that highlights the idea that so-called “designing for the disabled” is in fact, designing for everyone. The title of the article is Tactile Architectural Models as Universal ‘Urban Furniture’(“Furniture” is a bit misleading in this title).  


Some Light Relief

The portable toilet has an exterior design of Victorian beach huts. Brightly coloured. They are low to the ground and can be made accessible with addition ramping to overcome the little step. They are placed on a green field.When you gotta go, you gotta go. To make this event more interesting we now we have international toilet tourism awards. These toilets are not just functional, they are interesting too. However, not sure if all are accessible judging by the comments. You can read more about each of the winners and the judges comments in the different categories. Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria all have winners. Toowoomba’s portable toilet took out the main prize. Other winners are from the USA and New Zealand. And yes, there is such a thing as World Toilet Day.  Get your toilet nomination ready for next year’s awards – let’s see some creative and accessible toilets as winners!. Submissions open next February.   

The winning entry looks like an old farm shed. Outside there is a wooden fence rail like you see in the Western movies, with all sorts of farm clutter around. The entry door looks accessible but there is no information about the inside design.


The toilet pictured above as beach huts is one in the Toowoomba Portable Toilet range, and the one to the left depicting a rustic theme is the overall winner for 2017.



Taking off at Brisbane Airport

A man and two women stand in front of the toilet. In front of them is a green ribbon. The woman in the middle is about to cut the ribbon.Knowing a Changing Places toilet is available at Brisbane airport means that some travellers will deliberately break their journey here to use the facilities. The facility is so well used a second is planned for Brisbane’s International Terminal. This facility removes a major barrier to travel for people with disability, their family members and companions. The picture shows the ribbon cutting at the opening of the facility. Brisbane Airport also caters for assistance animals in both terminals. Other travel and journey improvements include:

  • In collaboration with QUT-based Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers (DCRC-CC) developing a step by step guide – Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide to Brisbane Airport for people living with Dementia and their Travel Companions – an action plan and resources kit for airport staff to improve the experience of air travel for people with dementia. Through this program Brisbane Airport was the first airport in Australia to be recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as an approved Dementia Friendly organisation.
  • Development of Brisbane Airport’s Accessibility Journey Planner which is due for release later this year
  • Completion of an Access Audit Program across both terminals by an accredited access consultant who provided recommendations.
  • Completion of a number of accessibility remediation projects including upgrading of public stairs, Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s) to escalators and travelators, lift upgrades and way-finding.
  • Australia’s first dedicated airport Assistance Animals ‘bathrooms’ were opened in 2014 in the International and Domestic Terminals.



Handbook for inclusive tourism

cover of the handbook in black and whiteUniversal Design: A Guide for Inclusive Tourism was created by Scott Rains, a well known travel writer and thought leader in accessible and inclusive travel and tourism. The information is presented succinctly with one topic per page. Pictures and graphics are used extensively. In the introduction Scott explains why he doesn’t use the term “accessible tourism”. He explains, “When people hear the word “accessible” attached to tourism they think they have a pretty good idea what that means. This is the problem. Almost everybody thinks they know what it means but, since it has never been fully defined, almost everybody has invented their own personal definition. That is a recipe for disaster. It is possible for a place to be accessible while the activities taking place there or the attitudes of those employed there remain grossly exclusionary”.
Scott Rains has white hair and beard. He is wearing a red shirt and you can see he is seated in a wheelchairScott, a passionate advocate for universal design, passed away in 2016, but it is good to see his work continued by others across the globe. He was the publisher of an e-newsletter, Rolling Rains, to help promote the concepts.


England and Scotland the accessible way

A street scene. Cobbled roadway between five and six storey heritage buildings with Scottish flags flyingWhile many places in the U.K. offer accessible features for guests with disability, 63 percent don’t promote the fact according to Bill Forrester in his TravAbility newsletter. VisitEngland and VisitScotland have launched a website for tourism businesses to produce accessibility guides to help overcome this problem. Tourism operators can use the new, free website, www.accessibilityguides.org, to produce and publish their accessibility guides. These guides should also be useful for Australian tourism operators as well. Remember, people with disability rarely travel alone – at least no more than the general population. So it is not just one person avoiding inaccessible places.


Archaeology and universal design

The photo is of the remains of the Roman Theatre. This is a stone semicircular ampitheatre that has been uncovered by archaeologists. An interesting mix of universal design, laser technology and tourism are in this article about universal design and an archaeological site. The authors claim that using laser technology across the site enables them to find the best routes for visitors. The subject of the study is Tusculum Archaeological-Cultural Park near Rome. This culturally significant site is both a tourist destination and a venue for performances of classic works. The paper looks as if it has been translated from Italian and the language is difficult in places, but for people interested in laser technology, surveying, 3D imaging, and heritage sites this paper should be interesting. The photos and drawings add to the paper.

The title of the paper is, Infographic modeling based on 3D laser surveying for informed universal design in archaeological areas: The case of Oppidum of the ancient city of Tusculum. It was published in ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume IV-2/W2, 2017 26th International CIPA Symposium 2017, 28 August–01 September 2017, Ottawa, Canada.  


Tourism, access and heritage

Heritage Facade of the museum showing pale yellow stone bricks a doorway and four windowsAntonio Espinosa-Ruiz, Director of Vilamuseu in Spain explains some of the detail they have applied to their heritage sites, and laments that most museum professionals do not consider accessibility as part of their work. He says that access and inclusion cannot be waived, “nothing can be done without it”. They do not adapt, that is, create something and then think how to make it inclusive, “…we design for all from the beginning”. The article has a long but descriptive title: Design for all in Vilamuseu (Villajoyosa, Spain): How we work day by day to make heritage inclusive on one of the World’s main tourist regions. The article is is somewhat wordy but there are some good examples here. Accessibility in a museum is much more than just thinking about the building – it’s making exhibits and learning available to all.

The article is from the Design for All Newsletter India.