Universal Design Guidelines from Singapore

shows a man carrying a small child on his shoulders and a young woman pushing an older man in a wheelchairThe Singapore Government’s Universal Design Guidelines for commercial buildings has been well thought out and is presented clearly with many illustrations and drawings. This is a comprehensive guide that goes beyond basic accessibility requirements of previous guidelines. Access consultants might wish to compare this document with the Australian Access to Premises Standard, and the guidelines which can be downloaded from the Human Rights Commission website.

Singapore is keen to progress universal design and has a Universal Design Department within the Building and Construction Authority. 

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Dementia Friendly Assessment Tool

Front cover of the publication has lime green with text and a man bending down to pet a wallaby.The 2015 edition of the Dementia Friendly Community Environmental Assessment Tool  provides a relatively simple checklist that takes in many of the regular aspects of accessibility overlaid with design thought for people with dementia. A good place to start your thinking. The more recent online resource from Dementia Training Australia expands on the 2015 edition and goes into more detail. Sections can be downloaded separately. There are three parts in the handbook:

  • Part 1 ‘Key Design Principles’ contains a description of key design principles.
  • Part 2 ‘The Dementia Friendly Community – Environmental Assessment Tool (DFC-EAT)’ introduces the DFC-EAT and provides directions for its use.
  • Part 3 ‘Using the Spreadsheet’ contains a guide to scoring the DFC-EAT and showing the results graphically.  
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Home Renovations Tool

Front cover of the publication with the title of a way to stay.Scope Home Access has developed a Home Modification Assessment Tool, which is mainly for specialised home adaptations, but there are some useful mainstream ideas, particularly for ageing in place. For older people who are thinking ahead about how to stay put as they age, the checklist, although long, does give some good things to think about. However, not everyone wants to think ahead to a time when they might need these designs. That’s the problem. The tool is good for builders who want to know what to think about in their designs and client renovations. There is also a health and ability checklist at the end. It is the kind of tool best used in conjunction with an occupational therapist.  

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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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Wayfinding Design Guidelines

front cover of the wayfinding guidelinesWayfinding requires designers to organise and communicate the dynamic relationships of space and the environment. Basically, it requires the naming and marking of places, identifying destinations, and providing directional information. The Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation has produced a comprehensive, if somewhat technical, set of guidelines for wayfinding.

The guide covers basic principles, and very detailed design solutions and strategies, covering topics such as arrival point, main entry, internal arrival point, graphic communication, restrooms and toilets, lifts, and signage design. Sign legibility, system design criteria, and viewing distance to signs are all covered, plus much more. Wayfinding is a key element of accessibility for everyone. Making signs and systems universally designed for everyone requires additional thought and planning.

AS 1428.4.2 Wayfinding Standard, is expected to be published very soon. 

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Media and Communications

Front cover of the guideMedia Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications.  Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides.

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Bridging the exclusion gap

inclusive design toolkitThe Inclusive Design Group based at the Engineering Design Centre, University of Cambridge (UK) have been working over many years to find ways to demonstrate to product designers how many potential users are excluded from using, and therefore purchasing, their products. They first published the Inclusive Design Toolkit and have continued enhancing this work. Two gadgets to help designers, gloves and glasses, are now available. Using a pack of Post-it Notes as an example Sam Waller demonstrates in the video below how many people will find it impossible to remove the cellophane wrapping. A good case of including people with low vision and/or arthritis is good for everyone and increases market size.

 

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Wayfinding Systems Audit

wayfinding-design-guidelines-department-of-housing-and-public-The Wayfinding Systems and Audit  checklist provides guidance for designing wayfinding systems. Included is the application of tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI), signage and graphic communication, auditory communication, maps and more. Although it was published in 2007, most of the information still holds. New thoughts are entering discussions for improvements, for example, how dappled shade in outdoor areas may be confusing for some people. However, it is a good guide for getting started in this area which entails a mix of Australian Standards, thoughtful design, and end user convenience. Wayfinding is often an afterthought applied to designs instead of being integragted into the design process in the early stages. (The cognitive equivalent of the tacked on ramp?). 

The Wayfinding Design Guidelines handbook is also available and provides more detailed information.

Published by the CRC for Construction Innovation, supported by the Queensland Government. The CRC came to an end in 2009.

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