Design for inclusive play spaces and parks

Universal Design Conference logo.Design for access and inclusion in play spaces and parks: those devilish details that make a difference

Mary Jeavons is a landscape architect with more than 25 years experience in the design of inclusive play spaces. In her presentation she shows some of the practicalities of creating inclusion. As is often the case, it’s the attention to detail that makes the difference. Her slideshow has many pictures and this makes it a large document to download.

Jeavons presentation slideshow PDF 22MB

Presentation Abstract:  

The need for access to nature, parks, gardens and diverse outdoor play opportunities is well documented and fundamental to human wellbeing. Parks and open space become increasingly important as the densities of cities increase. The design of these important spaces is therefore critical in determining how individuals of all ages and abilities access the outdoor settings for play and recreation, physical activity, social interaction, respite and retreat, and engagement with nature. 

This paper focuses on the design of parks and play spaces of all kinds and their potential for intergenerational play, social interaction and community building, and for interaction with the natural world. This is a contested domain.

Play equipment in a neatly fenced rubber space, it is argued, cannot meet all of the play needs of today’s children and families. To design quality play settings in urban environments, designers need to address challenging issues in play provision such as the need for: looseness and responsiveness in public parks to allow for hands-on engagement and creativity; self-directed, unstructured play; provision for risk taking behaviour; high levels of useability and multi functionality; and for diversity in the qualities of parks, play spaces and open space.

A particularly thoughtful approach is required to provide and protect these and many other aspects of quality play and recreation environments, and to engage users of all ages and all abilities. As we broaden our concept of play, we can diversify the way we design to maximise useability. This richly illustrated presentation will show examples of details that matter to maximise physical access, social inclusion and opportunities for all users to participate in outdoor play in parks. (Paper presented by Sally Jeavons.)

Engaging with communities and stakeholders in universal design

UD-logo-200x200Michelle Blicavs is CEO of IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) gives an overview of engaging with  communities and stakeholders in universal design.  

Michelle Blicavs slideshow presentation PDF

Abstract: Planning and design for our public spaces often attracts great emotions from our communities. Public participation, or community engagement, is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to involved in the decision-making process. It includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision. This presentation will provide some insights into how outrage can be minimised and how a better engagement process can result in better outcomes in planning and designing public infrastructure that meets the needs of the community.

Included in the presentation are tools and techniques for engaging with the communities who use public places, and the importance of the promises made to the public and stakeholders whether that be through informing, consulting, involving, collaborating or empowering that community in the decision making process. This is particularly relevant when considering design for liveable communities for people regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity. Engagement is about reducing risk for decision makers and achieving better outcomes for communities and stakeholders.

Creating enabling environments: Stories of success

UD-logo-200x200Danielle McIntosh discusses how evidence based design principles and features can support dignity, wellbeing and inclusion for people with dementia. She presents success points in all situations from public domain to residential services.

Danielle McIntosh slideshow presentation PDF 1MB


Dementia design is good design per se! So why is good design for older people and people with dementia rarely prioritised in the creation of liveable community spaces? Older people and people with dementia require environments that will compensate for the myriad sensory, physical and cognitive changes that can strip away their independence. The built environment can have a positive impact on supporting older people and people with dementia to live well.

This presentation will address how evidence based design principles and features can support dignity, wellbeing and inclusion. Experiences and success points from designing and building residential aged care services, independent living units, outdoor public spaces.

Remember Hearing Loss

Carol Wilkinson iUniversal Design Conference logos a Hearing Advisor at Better Hearing Australia (BHA) in Victoria. BHA is a not for profit organisation offering an advisory service to anyone with hearing problems. 

Carol Wilkinson presentation notes PDF


It is vital that planners, architects and building designers consider people with hearing loss in order to enhance universal design of public spaces. Imagine you are going on a long awaited holiday.  At the airport there is a delay to the flight but you are unsure why. A message comes over the PA system but you’re having trouble understanding it because you have a hearing loss and, even with hearing aids, the noisy background makes it impossible for you to hear the announcement. It is the middle of the night at your hotel and the fire alarm goes off.  Thank goodness it’s a false alarm, because you don’t sleep in your hearing aids and you were not woken by this auditory signal. The restaurants and cafes that you dine in whilst away are noisy and this makes it difficult to converse with the new people you are meeting on your tour as well as the staff. 

All these difficulties could be avoided or at least improved upon if more thought had gone into the design of buildings and facilities.  Hearing loss seems to be a forgotten disability in many ways, not the least when it comes to providing public facilities. At least twenty percent of the population experience hearing loss with younger people also affected. Consequently, it is amazing that there is not a greater awareness of providing an inclusive environment for people who are deaf or hearing impaired. This paper will look at things that can help, whether at home or on holiday, and how it is much easier and cost effective it is to include them in design rather than retrofitting.


Mutual Involvement for inclusive practices in design

Logo for the 2014 Universal Design conference.Cecília Carvalho, specialises in design and product development and has a Master of Industrial Design from the Engineering Faculty at Oporto University, Portugal. Her presentation discusses mutual involvement for inclusive practices in design.


Despite the accepted advantages of user involvement in design projects, such as deeper understanding of people’s needs, capabilities and aspirations, procedural difficulties are recognized and discouraging design teams. Moreover, when we consider users with disabilities, greater challenges are identified.

This study is grounded on a participatory experience into the lives of people with disabilities, in which it became possible to observe that many of those stated problems in user involvement may actually be overcome or compensated with significant gains for design. This two years and still ongoing experience includes sport practices and other leisure activities.

Our work showed that user involvement should not be assumed as a unilateral process in design development and that for better achievements, a bilateral process is needed. Involving and being involved with users apparently opens more possibilities of success.

Cecília Carvalho’s presentation slides PDF 4MB

Public toilets from an Islamic perspective

Logo for Universal Design ConferenceToilets are not the same the world over, but they all need to be accessible  as Alaa Bashti points out in her poster presentation: “Accessible public toilets and restrooms from an Islamic perspective” by Alaa Bashiti, International Islamic University, Malaysia. 

Alaa Bashti poster presentation PDF


The tourism industry has become the most successful service sector, one of its leading job-creators and foreign exchange-earners. Behind this success lies a fascinating understanding of people needs taking into consideration the variety of people abilities and religions. According to Pew Research Center (2012), one such group of people who have special requirements when it comes to using restrooms are Muslims, who make up 1.5 billion, or one quarter, of the world’s population. This makes Islam the second largest religion in the world. In Malaysia and most Islamic countries, it is important to understand the ‘Islamic toilet manner’ as it can have direct implications for the design and planning of toilet facilities as Islam advocates for matters of cleanliness. Among the most crucial problems to be solved if one wants to enjoy an outing is whether one is sure to find a toilet one can comfortably use outside of home. How should toilets outside one’s dwelling be designed and distributed to ensure inclusive environment for everyone and to be used by Muslims?

This paper highlights what might be ideal standards for toilet provision, toilet design according to the Islamic principles and emphasising the importance of public toilets in creating accessible cities for everyone. In designing a public toilet, some elements should be stressed particularly on the understanding of users’ needs. With the various types of users, there is a need for a universal design of a public toilet that is always clean, comfortable and safe as well as relaxing. More than half of Malaysia’s population is Muslim as Islam is the official religion. The Department of Standard Malaysia (SIRIM) has initiated the publication of Malaysian Standards as guidelines for designers; architects, city planners, landscape architects, interior designers, and others who are involved in the construction of the built environment with universal design. Four standards on public toilets are to be developed.


Universal Design in Tourism – Put the kettle on!

Universal design conference logo. Universal design in tourismEdited transcript from live captioning of John Evernden‘s presentation Universal Design in Tourism: Put the kettle on!

Synopsis: John outlines some of the simple things that can make travel and touring more inclusive and convenient for everyone, and how simple things such as being able to fit the electric jug under the tap at the hand basin are important considerations for everyone.

John Evernden Presentation transcript PDF

John Evernden Presentation transcript Word

John Evernden Slideshow PDF 4MB

Gearing up for inclusive tourism in Australia

Conference UD-logoEdited transcript from live captioning of Bill Forrester’s presentation: Utilising Universal Design on “Soft Infrastructure” for Competitive Advantage and Greater Economic Returns

Synopsis: This presentation explains the importance of customer service in tourism, and that many tourists now, and in the future, will have a disability and many more will be ageing. Gearing up as in industry in Australia has been slow and there are missed opportunities. Bill Forrester uses examples from overseas to show how we can improve the design of tourism opportunities.

Bill Forrester Presentation transcript PDF

Bill Forrester Presentation transcript Word

Bill Forrester Slideshow PDF 6MB  

Banyule City Council Liveable Housing Guidelines

UD-logo-200x200Edited transcript from live captioning of the presentation by Shawn Neilson and Joel Elbourne who outline the process of engaging with developers to encourage the uptake of Banyule City Council’s Liveable Housing Design Guidelines in new housing developments. They show how it is possible to get buy-in from developers using local government resources. The title of their presentation is, Improving housing for people across their lifespan. Banyule City Council also has a Liveable Housing Policy. However, the policy indicates the notion of a proportion of new dwellings, which means the policy applies only to multi dwelling developments. 

Edited Transcript in PDF or in Word document.

Link to presentation slides and transcript on Prezi (August 2015) 

Link to presentation slides and transcript of 2016 outcomes so far.


Universal Housing Design – Let’s Get Going!

UD-logo-200x200 Margaret Ward’s presentation on universal housing design at the Australian Universal Design Conference 2014. The synopsis is taken from the transcript of live captioning.

Synopsis: While major industry players support the Livable Housing Design Guidelines, their implementation in mass market housing is not yet evident. This presentation takes the perspective of the Australian Network for Universal Housing Design and plots the history from the setting up of the National Dialogue for Universal Housing Design, to the development of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines, and the achievements to date of Livable Housing Australia.  It asks the question – what more can be done to progress universal housing design in Australia?

Graphic of a purple house shape with green outline for a window and a door. universal housing design.

Margaret Ward Presentation transcript in PDF format.

Margaret Ward slideshow PDF 1MB   


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