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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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Why the NDIS needs universal design

Graphic with four circles: one each for exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion.Emily Steel has written a thoughtful piece about how the thrust of Australia’s National Disability Strategy is languishing while everyone focuses on one small part of it – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). She argues that the NDIS runs the risk of further marginalising people because it is still treating people with disability as needing special (that is, separate non-mainstream) treatment. This is where the concepts of universal design come to the fore. Yes, some people will need specialised equipment as part of experiencing inclusion, but that equipment doesn’t make for inclusion unless the person can use the equipment to merge into the mainstream. For example, a person with paraplegia needs both a wheelchair and a step-free entry to buildings. One is no good without the other. The good thing is that a step-free entry is good for everyone – inclusive universal design. Only a small percentage of people with disability will qualify for the NDIS and this is also why we need universal design – for everyone, including people with and without NDIS packages. See Emily’s article for some good points on this issue. Emily will be speaking at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference.  She is Senior Lecturer, School of Health & Wellbeing at University of Southern Queensland. 

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Is there a market for accessible homes?

Front cover of Habinteg report showing coins and Monopoly housesA UK blog site has an article that discusses the market appeal of Lifetime Homes in the UK context. Dominic Aitken cites some interesting research and reports by the London School of Economics, Ipsos MORI, and Habinteg Housing and Papworth Trust. UK homes are traditionally two storey with the bathroom and toilet upstairs. They are generally smaller than Australian homes too, which makes it more difficult in terms of circulation spaces. It was thought that Part M of the building code would create greater accessibility in homes, but it hasn’t helped much at all. The best part is that it requires a downstairs toilet, which is handy for everyone. Aitken explains his own research project on this topic looking at homebuyers and estate agents. The blog site has attracted several good comments and are worth reading too. By the way, it seems stair lifts are not that popular with purchasers. 

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Making PDF Documents Accessible

graphic of a page with PDF on it red and whiteWhy is a Word document often preferred by some readers over a PDF document? They are more accessible for more people. Not everyone can see well; can use a mouse, can read English well, can remain focused easily when they read, and not everyone uses assistive technology. And not all PDF documents can be read by screen readers. In a slideshare Tammy Stitz explains some of the issues and solutions. She covers some of the technicalities as well as basics such as colour contrast, reading order and Alternative Text (alt-t). Logical structure, use of headings and placement and attributes of hyperlinks. The slideshare goes on to cover a list of things that need to be checked. Finally you can test the document using PDF Accessibility Checker. There is also such a thing as a PDF Association.  

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Footpath no place to park

A white SUV is parked across the footpath nosing into a drivewayParking on and across footpaths in Australia is illegal. But how many times do you see this? Especially where the family has too many cars to fit on their driveway (they use the garage for storage). So what? For people who are pushing strollers or wheeling anything it means going out on the roadway. And not good for people who are blind or have low vision for the same reason. An article on the BBC News website explains some of the difficulties about this issue, especially now that the UK are providing designated places where it is OK now to Two cars parked with one wheel mounting the kerb of the footpathpark on the footpath. A backward step (excuse the pun). The article includes videos showing the problems. Hope it doesn’t happen here – legally, that is. 

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Apps, activities and travel

A man stands on a train platform looking at his smartphone. He is wearing a hat and has a bright yellow backpack.There are many map apps and trip advisor ICT sites currently available and emerging, each with their own focus. But how can we better understand how people will use the apps? And how do the apps impact on activity and travel behaviour? This is an issue researcher Dick Ettema is keen to investigate. Apps, activities and travel: an conceptual exploration based on activity theory, is a very thorough piece of work for anyone with the time to read through it. Activity theory is used as a systematic way of investigating the effect of ICT on travel behaviour, and also how this links with maintaining social relationships.The author argues that with so many apps/ICTs we need a classification system  based on the objectives, practices and embeddedness in community. This would make it easier for researchers to identify differences in the way people use of ICTs/apps, and to identify inequalities in the use of apps. This leads to better understanding equity issues in terms of access to the technology and who profits from them. The full article can be found in Transportation, Special Issue: ICT, Activity Space-Time and Mobility: New insights, new models, new methodologies. March 2018, Issue 2, Pages 267-701. 

 

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Latest ACAA Newsletter

Front cover of the newsletterAccess Insight is the newsletter of the Association of Access Consultants Australia (ACAA). In the latest issue they have articles on designing for ageing communities by Lara Calder; designing for dementia by Paul Huxtable; and designing buildings for individuals with Autism by Shelly Dival. There is also some research on the shape and use of handrails (not grab bars) in aged care facilities by Nicole Maree Swan. You can read it online or download the PDF.

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International Toilet Tourism Awards 2018

A wooden shack type dunny with the hashtag Toilet Tourism AwardThe idea of toilets being tourist destinations in their own right is taking off. This year Bill Forrester and Chris Veitch, both of whom will be speaking at the Australian UD Conference, were among the judging panel. The best accessible toilet award goes to Brisbane Airport – another topic for the UD Conference. Jill Franz will be talking about how they have made air travel for people with dementia much easier. Other award winners are from across the globe. Adelaide and Fraser Coast also scored an award. Overall winner was a toilet with a James Bond theme. A home made video of the winner – watch to the end – 

Courtesy of the My Travel Research website.

You can read more and see better pics on the karryon.com.au website.

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Upcoming conferences

Aerial view of a crowded conference scene where the session has finished and people are standing, sitting and walking about.National Disability Sports Conference 16-18 July 2018 Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

International Federation on Ageing Conference 8-10 August, Toronto, Canada

Aged and Community Services Australia National Summit, 3-5 September, ICC Sydney.

Universal Design & Higher Education in Transformation Congress, 30 Oct – 2 November 2018, Dublin Castle, Ireland.

Australian Assistive Technology Conference 14-16 November 2018, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

AAG Conference “Advancing not Retiring: Active Players, A Fair Future” 21-23 November 2018, Melbourne

ACAA Access Consultants National Conference, August 2019, Luna Park Sydney. Save the Date notice.

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Call for Posters and Table Topics

banner advertising the conference showing a city river scene and bridgeMissed the deadline to make a presentation at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference? How about a doing a poster? Or, perhaps you would like to eat and meet with a Table Topic and lead a small discussion group at lunchtime on the first day.

Nick Loder stands by his poster at a conferencePosters are a good way of showcasing your work. So if you have a great example of universal design we’d all like to see it. This is a good way for students to get involved too. Posters should be no larger than A1 (594 x 841 mm) and should be accompanied by a short explanation.  For more details about posters, contact Jane Bringolf.

People are seated around a large table and Elise Copeland from New Zealand is leading a Table Topic discussionTable Topics is where you can eat and meet and lead a lunchtime discussion using either questions, handouts, or a short presentation on a laptop to get the discussion going. With cabaret-style seating, it is easy for delegates to get their lunch and bring it to whichever table they are interested in. The lunchbreak on the first day will be extended by half an hour to get the most out of this activity. If you are interested in leading a Table Topic, contact Jane Bringolf.

Concurrent speaker abstracts and biographies are now available for you to peruse.

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Housing: what theory and what research?

facade of an apartment building showing long balconiesThree academic articles come together for an intellectual tussle on housing theory and policy. David Clapham claims that there is a divide between researchers who focus on policy and those who focus on theory, and he asks where theory for housing research should come from and what it would look like. Hannu Ruonavaara, poses four positions about housing related theory: Is it possible to have one theory for all housing related research?; is it desirable to have one?; should we scrutinise housing as a special activity and experience?; and can we construct a theory about the relationships between the housing system and features of society?  Manuel Aalbers, who in his article, asks What kind of theory for what kind of housing research? responds to both academics. He discusses the pros and cons of their arguments. The point about housing research being largely for the audience of other housing researchers is well made. He believes it is more important to demonstrate the relevance of housing research to other social scientists. More importantly it needs to influence policy. Not light reading, but fascinating if you are a housing researcher or interested in housing policy. 

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