An accessible campus is part of sustainability

Edifice of a federation stone building with arched entrance with step leading to it.Linking “sustainability” with universal design is not a new idea, especially when thinking about social sustainability. A new book, Towards Green Campus Operations, includes a chapter that moves away from “green” to social sustainability. The argument is that making the campus more universally accessible is a sustainability exercise. The more accessible the campus is, the more likely the students are to enroll and, more importantly, finish their course. This is good for the university and sustains their student intake and retention.

The authors also argue that academics need to be educated about this issue too. The chapter, “Educational Institutions and Universal Accessibility: In Search of Sustainability on University Campus”, is available through Springer Link.


The paper reports proposals and solutions of the design and implementation for universal accessibility at the university campus, complying with current legislation and community demands. It addresses the challenges of raising academic awareness about the subject and of the accessible route project overcoming the campus large dimensions, urbanized areas and rugged topography. It is the result of a project and an accessible route shared through pedestrian and motorized routes and with its implantation overcoming barriers in the implementation.

The theme was conducted with a focus on social sustainability, as it is a requirement to obtain the universal and legitimate right to higher education and the benefits of the university campus as a community educational, environmental and leisure urban equipment.

The results of the article demonstrate that universal accessibility, more than a legal requirement for educational institutions, contributes to social sustainability. The spatial adequacies allow the universalization of the possibility of entry and stay of persons with disabilities or reduced mobility in the university campus, expanding their training at an higher level. 

UD for Learning: An indigenous perspective

Placed in a rural setting a wooden barn type building displays the cultural icons and two totem poles of the Alaskan NativesThe education system in Alaska is an interesting place to research the potential for applying the principles of universal design for learning (UDL) in a culturally diverse and indigenous context. The article by Krista James explores examples of implementation of the Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators within a UDL framework.

Similarly to Australia, Alaska’s indigenous population has experienced loss of culture and forced assimilation with Western educational systems taking over the education of their children. James concludes that the Alaska Cultural Standards for Educators and the UDL framework are not just easy to connect, but many of the standards are already ingrained in the core principles of UDL. You don’t have to be an educator to appreciate this article.

The title of the article is: “Universal Design for Learning as a Structure for Culturally Responsive Practice”, in the Northwest Journal of Teacher Education. 2018. There is a link to a 30 minute video at the end of the article.

Camp Manyung and universal design

a person in a wheelchair is on the flying fox highlighting universal design at Camp Manyung.
Cloudrider on zipline

Camp Manyung in Victoria is leading the way by universally designing everything. The excellent video below shows how the application of universal design principles throughout the design of the camp facilities bring about the inclusiveness that is the aim of universal design. Universal design principles are also applied to camp activities, and staff attitudes and communication. Find out more about universal design at Camp Manyung.

The camp is run by YMCA on behalf of Sport and Recreation Victoria that also has a Design for Everyone Guide. The video below explains more about Camp Manyung. 

There is no legislation within Australia to guide the design of sporting or leisure activities that enable participation by everyone at a level that suits them. Sport and Recreation Victoria have embraced the principles of universal design to make all their camps and activities inclusive. The accessible high ropes course shows that anything is possible.

Integrating universal design into camp activities

Sport and Recreation Victoria and YMCA want to increase awareness and applicability of universal design in residential camps. The image shows how any one can enjoy the flying fox on the “Skyrider”.  They have produced a report, Universal Design: Integrating the Principles into Camp Activities. The report outlines ways in which environments, activities and programs within residential camps can be used by everyone. It shows how to apply universal design to all aspects of camp activities.

Universal Design: Camps and Consultation 

What are the best practice methods for consulting with users to implement universal design? image shows people putting block of wood together to create a towerProbably there is no one-size fits all. The literature review highlights projects that attempted to achieve universal design or user-centred design by consulting with users throughout the design process.

The case study techniques included the full participation of users in the design process, the use of hidden cameras, observation, focus groups, scaled cardboard models and 3-D virtual environments. Some important considerations for consulting with users are raised in the literature. The title of the review is Universal Design: Camps & Consultation.

Communicating at Camp Manyung

We all like to get our message across. Communication access is just as important as physical access. So what are the communication barriers that some people face? It might be reading, understanding spoken language or having difficulties speaking. So the way that signs and written communication are designed are as important as well-trained staff. 

Camp Manyung has increased their level of inclusiveness by gaining communication accreditation from SCOPE. Reception staff and activity staff can now communicate with everyone throughout the camp experience. Staff wear the international communication symbol so that they are easily recognised by visitors. SCOPE has videos that show how a person trained in communication access uses their skills. 


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