The Nightingale project in Melbourne has captured the imagination since its inception in 2014. Founder, Jeremy Mcleoad, suggests an architecture of reduction, which provides moderation of these housing models. Using architecture as a catalyst to engage and generate interaction, Nightingale supports communication and community.
Jeremy also explains how they side-stepped the property developer control of design and put it back in the hands of architects. Through a triple bottom line approach – financial return, sustainable and liveable, Jeremy’s vision provides a universal design approach to the housing product.
How can clothing design be inclusive and allow individual expression at the same time? Design for many, design for me: Universal design for apparel productsreports on a study examining just that question. The article begins with an explanation and application of UD principles and then provides two case studies. Slow Design and Thoughtful Consumption enter the discussion as well as the concept of co-design. It is good to see clothing design joining the UD movement.
Abstract: This study examined the potential of universal design in the field of apparel. The particular purpose of the study was to explore the use of the concept and principles of universal design as guidance for developing innovative design solutions that accommodate ‘inclusivity’ while maintaining ‘individuality’ regarding the wearer’s aesthetic tastes and functional needs. To verify the applicability of universal design in apparel products, two case studies of design practice were conducted, and the principles of universal design were evaluated through practical applications. This study suggests that universal design provides an effective framework for the apparel design process to achieve flexible and versatile outcomes. However, due to product proximity to the wearer, modification of the original definition and principles of universal design must be considered in applications for apparel design.
The generation gap is shrinking fast. No longer is it the case of the seasoned employee mentoring younger colleagues. Younger and older employees are now sharing knowledge and skills with each other. Joe Flynn points out in a White Paper that for the first time, our workforce consists of four generations of employees working alongside each another. With an ageing population and later retirement age, Flynn argues our workplaces need to be designed for greater demographic and gender diversity.
Gender-neutral bathrooms have sparked many public debates in the US, however, in Australia, this is still a fairly new concept. We are familiar with unisex accessible sanitary facilities that provide a space that allows carers and users of any gender. Yet, the public services’ push towards gender neutral bathrooms to foster inclusiveness of transgender and intersex employees are causing debate in its Canberra buildings.
“We absolutely know it’s necessary to do it and to do it well,” Tim Bavinton, executive director of ACT Sexual Health and Family Planning told Fairfax Media. “But any change in a work environment requires the opportunity for people to understand why the change is necessary, and to address any issues of concern that they may raise.”
The National Construction Codes in Australia only recognises the provision of male and female sanitary compartments. Perhaps universal design will provide the solution that architects are looking for: “Because public bathrooms need to be designated male or female, it forces transgender and nonconforming individuals to choose between the two, sometimes leading them into uncomfortable or unsafe situations. The code leaves architects with a choice, too: take the easy route and design single and multi-occupancy bathrooms labeled “male” or “female,” or design around the code–the latter of which often takes more creativity and resources.”
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has produced a new handbook, Upgrading Existing Buildings Handbook. The Preface introduces the document as “one of a series produced by the ABCB … in response to comments and concerns expressed by government, industry and the community that relate to the built environment…on areas of existing regulation or relate to topics which have, for a variety of reasons, been deemed inappropriate for regulation. The aim of the Handbooks is to provide construction industry participants with non-mandatory advice and guidance on specific topics, specifically, buildings classified as Class 2 to 9 in Part A3 of NCC, Volume One”. This is a 47 page document.
Importantly, this handbook outlines a five-step process for scoping proposed new work in existing buildings, with a very strong emphasis at step four to determine whether potential deficiencies are actual deficiencies – i.e. the building does not meet a performance requirement of the National Construction Code. The takeaway message is that Performance Solutions may be the only practical solution to address actual deficiencies, and this is where a Universal Design approach will be most beneficial.
Housing affordability within Australian cities is resulting in greater levels of multigenerational living. Increasingly, developers are responding to this market by designing “houses with flexibility, a universal design for all ages,” Makoto Ochiai, Sekisui House.
A leader in standardarising accessibility functions over specialised accessibility is Apple. Their products are recognised as being easy to use with intuitive functionality. With organisational values such as “inclusion inspires innovation”, the experience of engineers like Jordyn Castor provides a personal perspective when designing for usability. Born 15 weeks early, Jorydn beat the odds and being blind from birth doesn’t stop her from some masterful coding.
In the Mashable Australia article, Castor says her own success – and her career – hinges on two things: technology and Braille. That may sound strange to many people, even to some who are blind and visually impaired. Braille and new tech are often depicted as at odds with one another, with Braille literacy rates decreasing as the presence of tech increases.
But many activists argue that Braille literacy is the key to employment and stable livelihood for blind individuals. With more than 70% of blind people lacking employment, the majority of those who are employed — an estimated 80% — have something in common: They read Braille. For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement. “I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”
What should play spaces look like for all ages? Inspired by a 10-year old resident from Lilydale, Melbourne, Yarra Ranges Council committed a $1.4million upgrade to the Lilydale Lake playground in 2014. The recently completed project was developed in consultation with local primary school children. The Council found that the two main priorities for the children were:
Emphasis on nature over plastic materials; and
Play areas for all ages.
“They actually wanted a space where their parents will play with them,” Ms Robyn Mansfield, the Council’s manager of built and active spaces. “Where their older siblings will want to play with them, where their grandparents will want to play with them.” More information on the Park can be found on the ABC website.
The Interaction Design Foundation understands that accessible design is not just for people with disability, but about how all users engage with design. Aside from recognising that World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C-WAI) should be considered at the start of the design process, they also offer other helpful tips in making your website user-friendly in their article, Accessibility: Usability for all. Here are some examples of their tips and advice:
If you use a CMS, choose one that supports accessibility standards. Drupal and WordPress, for example, support these. If you’re going to amend a template rather than create one for the theme, make certain that the theme was designed with accessibility in mind. It can save time, effort and money.
Use header tags to create headings in your text; ideally, ensure that you use CSS to make this consistent throughout the site. Try not to skip from one heading level to the next (e.g., H1 to H4, rather H1 to H2); this can confuse screen reader software. Users with more severe vision impairments may access your site using a refreshable Braille display or terminal, which depends on screen readers.
Use alt text on your images; if you use images to enhance content, then a screen reader will need to explain them— that’s what the alt text is for. However, if your image is purely for decoration and adds no other value (other than looking good), you should skip the alt text to avoid confusing someone having the site content read to him/her.
Have a link strategy. Screen readers sometimes stutter over links and stop on the first letter. That means it’s important not to have “click here” links scattered through the text. The best link descriptions have a text description before the link and then a unique name for the link. (E.g., “Read more about the Interaction Design Foundation, at their website.”) Consider offering a visual cue (such as a PDF icon) by links to make it clear what the link willdeliver. Use underlines on links (they help color blind people distinguish links from text). Highlight menu links on mouseover to assist with locating the cursor.
Choose colors carefully; if in doubt, test your color schemes with some color-blind people. Color blindness is an incredibly common disability, and the wrong palette can make it difficult for a color-blind person to read your text or navigate your site. You also need to ensure that you provide high levels of contrast between text and background; older people, for example, can find it hard to see text unless the contrast is high.
Don’t refer just to the color of something when giving instructions; “click the red button” isn’t helpful to a color-blind person. …
How do we design for the full-spectrum of user experience, if the designers themselves do not present a variety of experience and perspectives? Inherent in their role, user experience designers, or UX designers, are required to design the overall experience of a person using the product.
Fabricio Teixeira and Caio Braga believe that diversity generates diversity. Touching on topics such as diversity in the design industry, inclusion, equality and equity and gender, this series of five articles explores design from within the industry to explore the impact that designers have on people’s lives.