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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.


Introduction to Universal Design Launched

Title of course: introduction to universal design, yellow and orange blurred coloured background with dark blue text.At the Access Consultants Conference in Brisbane last week, I had the pleasure of announcing CUDA’s first online course: Introduction to Universal Design. This free course is aimed at people who have heard of universal design but not sure what it is or how it can be implemented. Of course, anyone can sign up and go through the steps. There is a certificate of completion at the end. Briefly the topics are the seven principles and eight goals, diversity and stereotyping. It concludes with an overview of how it can be applied in the built environment, to products and to technology. Depending on your prior knowledge it should take one to two hours to complete Introduction to Universal DesignWhy not give it a go?

We are happy to receive feedback on the course and suggestions for improvement. Also, we would like to know what topics you would like us to develop for online courses, or there might be a topic you would like to contribute to.

Jane Bringolf, Chair, Centre for Universal Design Australia


Accessible housing: still not there, yet.

Three photos in one block showing a bathroom, a bedroom and a kitchenCouncil of Australian Governments has directed the Building Ministers, Forum (BMF) to undertake a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for accessibility in all new private housing. The COAG Communique of 9 October 2017 states:
“The BMF, in consultation with Disability Ministers, will undertake a national RIA regarding accessible housing for private residences. The RIA will examine the [Livable Housing Australia] silver and gold performance levels as options for a minimum accessible standard; use a sensitivity approach; and be informed by appropriate case studies”.

Blue front cover of National Construction Code Class 2-9 buildingsEditor’s Comment: It is good to see LHA Gold Level being included because Silver Level only provides visitability, not liveability. This is only the beginning of a long process. The state and territory treasurers and disability ministers will be required to get together to discuss the issues. If all succeeds we should see basic access features for all new homes in the National Construction Code. However, at this stage it looks like Red front cover of the National Construction Code Volume 2publication in 2022 in spite of the National Disability Strategy. Jane Bringolf.


Inclusive Design Toolkit turns 10

five members of the inclusive design group stand behind a table with the toolkit displayed. Each person is holding a card with a word. The words spell out 10 years inclusive design toolkit.The Inclusive Design Toolkit has proved to be an invaluable tool for designers and it’s received a revamp for its tenth birthday.  Also updated is the exclusion calculator which gives a great guide to how many potential users might be excluded from a design. The news bulletin from the Engineering Design Centre that produces the Toolkit and other resources has information on:

  • The tenth anniversary of the Inclusive Design Toolkit and what has been achieved in that time
  • New exclusion calculator for better assessment for vision and dexterity
  • E-commerce image guidelines for mobile phone viewing
  • Impairment simulator software for vision and hearing is now freely available and very handy for showing people what vision impairments look and sound like.

The Engineering Design Centre has made great progress in inclusive design. It began with funding to work with business and commerce to show the business benefits of including as many people as possible in the design. The design team continue to break new ground keeping users at the centre of the process. Their resources are good for working out how to include everyone.

The picture shows left to right: Joy Goodman-Deane, Sam Waller, Mike Bradley, Ian Hosking, and John Clarkson.


Who says it is liveable?

Urban landscape with shade trees and lots of casual seating with people sitting.Cameron Jewell writes in Fifth Estate that the notion of liveability should be questioned when it comes to Australian cities. This is in spite of our cities regularly ranking highly on this measure. Jewell says there is little evidence cities are achieving their policy targets for walkability, public transport or public open space. He is commenting on a report of five years of research, Creating Liveable Cities in Australia. At the end of the article are the seven key recommendations. Evidence based policies tops the list. Accessibility gets a brief mention in terms of employment and amenities. The questioning should include accessibility and universal design. If one in five of us is living with disability, and double that at least for including inconvenienced family members, we are not making places and spaces liveable for everyone. And we are not meeting our targets under the National Disability Strategy either.   


Citizen science and the built environment

view of a pedestrian street with an older man waving his right arm in the air.Nurses and other health professionals are the latest group to be urged to play a part in creating improvements to the built environment to promote healthy ageing. Dr Anthony Tuckett of University of Queensland’s School of Nursing says, “This would involve older adults taking an active role in documenting features of their environment that help or hinder healthy living and then voicing them to policy makers to promote change.” This is not a new idea. The World Health Organization promotes the idea of a “bottom up” approach to improving streets and neighbourhoods for older people. The two minute video below “Our Voice Citizen Science for Health Equity” explains more and you can see the article, Senior citizen science: older people urged to advocate for changes to built environment, published in Aged Care InSite.



Handy video on web accessibility

young female at a desk with laptop, coffee cup and notebookThe Australian Government has produced a short video, Web Accessibility: what does it all mean? The first important point made in the video is that web accessibility is not about disability – web accessibility is about universality. There is no speech in the video. Instead all the messages are delivered by interesting text. At the end there is a link to more information. As there is no speech, only upbeat background music, it is not clear if there is audio description of this video. 


Transport & Health Conference call for papers

picture of Macinac Island holiday centre showing a horsedrawn carriage in a street of pedestrians lined by early American buildingsThe next international conference on transport and health will be held in June 2018 in rural Northern Michigan, USA. The call for abstracts opens 31 October 2017. This is a high ranking conference with various ways of contributing including posters and a Pecha Kucha session. The abstract and presenter categories are extensive and include ageing in place, older populations, disability and accessibility, including housing. The conference website already has comprehensive information about the event, so planning is well under way. Although the conference is hosted by the transport and heatlh collaboration, transport and health are major aspects of all our lives so the topics are wide ranging. A good way to bring together many disciplines for sharing research and networking.

Picture is a view of a Mackinac Island street.