Designing for autism

Floor Plan, Blueprint, House, HomeWell designed buildings support people with physical impairment, but what about people with other sensory issues or cognitive impairment? Shelly Dival argues that we can do more in the built environment to support people on the autism spectrum in educational, work, and home environments.

As a Churchill Fellow, Shelly travelled around the globe in 2018 to gather international knowledge and raise awareness in Australia of how people with autism can benefit from more positive interactions with the built environment. Her report outlines building features requiring further research, including design theories, methods and outcomes. Her findings are also featured in an architecture magazine.

One of her insights was the crossover between autism and other neurological conditions including dementia. Designing for neurodiversity rather than specific conditions may be an effective future-proofing strategy that supports everyone. That’s similar to the approach adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in their forthcoming Guidelines on cognitive accessibility, based on the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.  

Do it yourself housing design

A webpage showing the navigation toolMy Home Space is an interactive online tool that takes you through the design details of all parts of the home including spatial requirements. The website has a video explaining how to use the guide. The tool is enhanced by references to assistive technology. The information in the tool takes the form of “things to consider” and is provided in the context of the NDIS. However, some of the design tips are useful for most homes. There is a companion paper, Government perspectives on housing, technology and support design within Australia’s National Disability Strategy that explains the background and the methodology for developing this tool. This is the work of Libby Callaway and Kate Tregloan from Monash University who will be speaking at the upcoming Australian Universal Design Conference 4-5 September 2018. 

To market, to market with SDA housing

Five level apartment block with shops at street level. Specialist Disability Accommodation housing (SDA) is seen as a niche housing product that governments should pay for. But a new study shows the demand is so great private developers need to get on board. With $700m a year earmarked for SDA it means a move from grants-based funding to a market-based system. However, there are many others who need basic accessible housing who do not quality for SDA, and this is still a gap in the market. But will the market think that the issues have been solved with SDA and do nothing about mainstream housing?  This article was found in The Conversation. SDA is a must if Australia is going to meet its commitments under the National Disability Strategy