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Welcome

Welcome to Centre for Universal Design Australia website

The aim of universalising design is to create a more inclusive world. Universal Design, as an endeavour in its own right, is being used internationally as a vehicle for bringing about wholesale change in design thinking throughout the design process so that all people are considered regardless of age, capability, or background.

Universal design is a design concept not a design product. The principles of universal design can be applied to concrete things like products, buildings and open spaces, to intellectual activities such as designing learning programs, and to conceptual things such as policies and practices.

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The future of kitchens

A kitchen with white cabinetry and a bar extension showing two place settings and chairsIt is often quoted that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that part probably won’t change in the future. But what people might doing in the kitchen could change significantly. A blog on a product website lists five key design features trending for the future: connectivity, sustainability, ease of use for all, the rise of professional products, and the kitchen is more than just cooking. Below is a video where researchers and designers from around the world were asked how they thought kitchens will evolve. Their ideas on the future are worth looking at. There are some neat ideas at the end of the video. One of the designers, Patricia Moore, says, 

“We must be able to choose at all times what suits us. Some people have to work sitting down or in a wheelchair. A small child should be able to help Mom and Dad prepare food. And our grandparents, who will experience reductions and have less physical strength and mental capacity, should be able to prepare a meal with comfort and safety.” 

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Driverless cars: Who really benefits?

An aerial view of a car manufacturer's parking lot showing rows of white carsThe concept of driverless cars excites some and terrifies others. But it is the technology and big business behind it that perhaps we should be concerned about. David Wilson writes in The Fifth Estate about this issue. He alerts us to the size and influence of tech giants and how they can utilise the data they can collect. He provides a table of vehicle enhancements and the time it took or is taking for the market to fully embrace them. The other factor is that vehicle components will change from the current 90% hardware and 10% software to 40% hardware, 40% software, and 20% app providers that link the two together. The article goes on to the important issue of governance. He concludes the article with, “The question is: will the loss of our familiar manual cars be a benefit for humanity, or are we heading towards an Orwellian future where a concentration of high-tech global “fangs” manipulate and control our lives, minimising government regulators to toothless tigers?”  Worth a read because this is part of the AI revolution that we will all have to deal with sooner or later and we need to make sure it is inclusive.The title of the article is, Driverless cars: benefit to humanity or road to an Orwellian dystopia?

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Update on Building Ministers’ Forum and housing

Last week, Apartment block with blue windows and balconies with plants and washing drying.The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) met in South Australia and one item on the agenda was providing minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code. The BMF is part of COAG. This is the excerpt from the Communique:

“The BMF agreed the ABCB Accessible Housing Options Paper (Options Paper) be used for broad stakeholder consultations about options for the inclusion of minimum accessibility standards for housing in the NCC. The Options Paper is expected to be released in September 2018, with the expectation of commencing a Regulatory Impact Statement in the first quarter of 2019.”

Kieran O’Donnell from the Australian Building Codes Board will be presenting at the Universal Design Conference in Brisbane 4-5 September. If you want to get ahead of the curve it would be worthwhile attending.

Tthe Australian Network on Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) has been heavily lobbying the BMF to get this on the agenda. ANUHD will be calling on organisations and individuals to show some people-power and respond to the options paper when it comes out next month. See more in the Government News on this important topic.

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Adaptable Housing Guide

Front cover of Your Home manual.“The livable and adaptable house” is a chapter in Your Home Technical Manual published by the the Australian Greenhouse Office.  If you still want use the Adaptable Housing Standard AS4299, and not the Livable Housing Design Guidelines, this guide will be useful.  There are many detailed diagrams to help explain design features and floor plans. For those who are not familiar with AS4299 it is worth comparing this outdated standard, which has not been revised since it’s inception in 1995, with the more relevant Livable Housing Design Guidelines. The full book chapter is publicly available through ResearchGate and was written by Jasmine Palmer and Stephen Ward.

Abstract: Many people, when building a new home, anticipate spending a number of years, if not decades, living in it. Others may conceive of a shorter stay. Whatever the intention, any new home is likely to have to accommodate changing needs over its lifetime. A livable and adaptable house is one that is able to respond effectively to these needs without requiring costly and energy intensive alterations. Australian demographics are changing rapidly, with average households becoming both smaller and older as an increasing number of people live independently in their later years. The balance between home and work life also places altering demands on our houses as many people choose to work from home. A single space may act at different times as a home office, a teenage retreat, a family study or a bedroom for an elderly relative. An adaptable house accommodates lifestyle changes without the need to demolish or substantially modify the existing structure and services.

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Equal access to sex workers

A woman wearing a mustard coloured jumper is hold the the hands of someone who is hugging her from behind. There is no head, just the torso.Almost everyone likes a hug, and sometimes something a little more intimate. Being a resident in an aged care home should not be a barrier to having this kind of intimacy whether it’s from a sex worker or a partner. An article in Aged Care Insite, Sex work in aged care more than just physical, discusses the issues of intimacy and sex work and “skin hunger”. For some clients of sex workers it is about being close and touching another human being rather than sexual intimacy. It’s about feeling the warmth of another body, feeling their heartbeat and breathing. When it comes down it, older people have the right to access sex and intimacy services just like anyone else – age shouldn’t be a barrier. However, those who live in their own homes might be in a better position than those in an aged care facility. Time for policies on this aspect of aged care to be universally designed?

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Symbol for disability or for access?

four white figures on a blue background showing a man and woman with a square head and a man and a woman with a misshapen head“Does the universal symbol for disability need to be rethought”? is the title of an article in the FastCompany blog. First question this raises is, “Is it a symbol for disability or a symbol for access?” The article proposes a variety of symbols for different disabilities. But do we need more symbols and if so, what purpose would they serve?  Some people might like to have a symbol they can relate to if they are not a wheelchair user. But could another symbol further stigmatise? For example one of the proposed symbols shows a person with half the head missing. Another shows a square head. Currently the universal and international symbol for access is more about buldings meeting legislative compliance than trying to send a message about different disabilities. The aim of universal design is to not need more symbols and labels, but to need them less. Have a look at the article and see what you think about the proposition of a multitude of symbols.

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Universal Design: Revolution or Evolution? A breakfast event

Flyer picture of three Barangaroo towers with the title of the event.CUDA and Lendlease have organised a breakfast event at Barangaroo in Sydney. Three great speakers, a light breakfast and networking all for just $10.

Jason Barker, Principal, Design for Dignity, will discuss how universal design was embraced during the development of Barangaroo. Chris Veitch, Access New Business (UK) will bring his international experience of inclusive destinations and tourism and the development of Visit Britain website. He will be fresh from the UD Conference in BrisbaneFiona Morrison, Commissioner Open Space and Parklands, NSW Department of Planning, will talk about inclusively designing guidelines for inclusive playspaces. Annie Tennant, General Manager, Sustainability and Culture, Lendlease, will chair the event. Download the flyer or register to attend using the links below. Our thanks to Lendlease for their support for this event.

12 September 2018 8:00am to 9:30am

Register:  https://udaustralia.eventbrite.com.au

Enquiriesevents.udaustralia@gmail.com or call 0431 345 235 for access enquiries.

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Thanks for your support

A tile showing all the logos of conference supporters.Thanks to all our conference supporters for promoting our upcoming conference. Is your association logo there? Perhaps you could get CPD points for attending.  Looking forward to seeing you all at the conference – only three weeks to go! 

For more detail and to register see the conference website. The theme is Home and Away: Creating inclusion everywhere. This is a conference for the people who make the decisions that create inclusion. So anyone involved in housing and built environment, destination planning, tourism and place making should come along. It’s a great program!

  • Two day registration is $675.00 + GST
  • One day registration is $400.00 +GST
  • Student registration is $350.00 + GST

Missed the earlybird rate? Email Jane udaustralia@gmail.com.

Logos include: ARATA, AIB, ANUHD, LGNSW, Philip Chun, SCAAN, RICS, ATDW, QAUHD, Touched by Olivia, SCAAN, University of Cambridge. Hosted by COTA Queensland and CUDA, and organised by Interpoint Events.

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Occupational therapists as designers

Graphic of a handshake with purple hands. The hands have words on them such as cooperate and connectOccupational therapists and universal design have much in common, says James Lenker and Brittany Perez in their article, The role of occupational therapists in universal design research. They argue the case for including the skills and knowledge of occupational therapists across the spectrum of design disciplines and in research activities. In their role at Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, they have successfully collaborated with five different disciplines: architecture, human factors engineering, urban planning, digital media and occupational therapy. This is a three page paper is easy to read and promotes the importance of collaboration for the best implementation of universal design and inclusive practice.

You can also find out more from Elizabeth Ainsworth and Desleigh de Jonge about the relevance and application of universal design in occupational therapy practice on the ResearchGate website. 

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Which way is up?

A sign post with one sign saying this way and the other saying that way.Signalling the right way to go has to account for cognitive abilities, visual acuity, and spatial awareness. As people age some of these abilities decline. Consequently, considering the needs of this group in wayfinding design will make wayfinding easier for everyone.  Mishler and Neider have identified five key points and explain them in detail in their article. They are: 

  1. Distinctiveness: the information should have cues that are informative to the route and can be distinguished from the surroundings.
  2. Consistency and standardisation: information overload can be avoided with the consistent placement, size, colour and shape of signage.
  3. Simplicity: limiting each sign to three or four units of information, because people tend to glance rather than read, and avoid visual clutter.
  4. Isolation: keep the signs away from other visual clutter to help focus attention in the right place.
  5. Reassurance: letting people know they are still on the correct route especially if the destination is a long way from the directional sign.

The title of the article is, “Improving Wayfinding for Older Users with Selective Attention Deficits”, in Ergonomics in Design.  Here is part of their conclusion:

“Because maps and other layout information may not be easy for older adults to use, providing environmental support through wayfinding signage might be the best way to mitigate these difficulties. However, visual selective attention, which is needed to find and read a sign, declines in old age, which makes it particularly important to adhere strictly to certain guidelines for signage design.

Adhering closely to the principles of distinctiveness, consistency and standardization, simplicity, isolation, and reassurance should help not only to improve wayfinding performance for all users but also to reduce the performance gap between older and younger users.

Providing age-inclusive signage could help to maintain high mobility in older adults, prevent them from becoming isolated from their communities, and therefore help to avoid the mental and physical health issues that tend to be comorbid with age-related isolation. Age-inclusive signage design is therefore an increasingly important topic in an aging population.”   

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