Human-centred design playbook

Human-centred design is an approach to problem-solving that puts people at the heart of the process. It’s about empathy with users. This style of approach has the potential to generate more varied ideas for design solutions. It’s more than community engagement – it’s an collaborative and iterative design process. Collaboration and iteration are at the core of a universal design approach.

The Victorian Government’s human-centred design playbook was developed specifically for its staff – public servants. And not just those with job descriptions that are about policy, planning and design. 

The aim is to help staff collaborate better with the service design team, service designers, and external design agencies. The guide does some of the thinking in helping to assess options and practical steps for implementing the project.

Taking an iterative approach to design is at the heart of the process. “We iterate because we know that we won’t get it right the first time. Or even the second… it allows us to keep learning.”

At 100 pages covering methods, design plans, outputs and case studies this playbook has everything. The Digital, Design and Innovation branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet produced the playbook. It is designed to be a starting point for planning and scoping design-based activities. 

You can download a copy of the playbook directly from the website. 

 

It’s All Double Dutch to Me

Instructions for use written in symbols which are hard to decipher.
It’s all double Dutch. Decoding symbols can be a barrier to learning. Image: Gerd Altman.

You are not a coder, but take a look at the ‘back-end’ of a website. You are not bilingual, but start reading Le Monde. You are not a mathematician, but explore algebraic geometry. You have few mechanical skills, but still attempt to follow a bicycle assembly manual…and you don’t get very far with any of these areas. Rather, you may think, “It’s all double Dutch to me!”

Double Dutch is speech or language that is difficult to understand or decipher. Spare a thought for students who do not possess prior knowledge or awareness of specific language or symbols used in learning. The English alphabet is a code of letters that symbolise specific sounds. The process of decoding an encoded language begins with reading and then decoding the symbols to Braille, for example. Similarly, recognising and understanding mathematical symbols can be highly challenging. For some learners, fluency in decoding does not occur quickly. This means the student has difficulty in accessing the learning. 

The lack of automaticity in decoding symbols creates an additional layer of cognitive load for the student. In turn, their ability to use their cognition on processing the learning or making meaning of it is limited.

To support learners’ acquisition of symbol knowledge and ability to use the coded language efficiently, students need consistent and meaningful exposure to symbols. Providing alternatives or adjustments to decoding supports students to access the learning and develop their knowledge and skills.

Tools to provide alternatives or adjustments include:

  • Text-to-Speech software
  • Glossaries or keyword lists
  • Alternative sources of information (diagrams, voice-over explanations, worked examples, graphic organisers, etc)
  • Automatic voicing for mathematical notation
  • Audiobooks
  • C-Pens

For a relatively small cost in time, effort or money, these tools and strategies can provide meaningful support for students to equitably access learning.

Find more practical suggestions on reducing barriers to learning in the Universal Design for Learning section of the Centre for Universal Design Australia’s website.

Access Insight newsletter: focus on parking

Front cover of magazine showing an accessible parking space.Accessible parking spaces are the focus in the latest issue of the access consultants newsletter. Each contributor offers a different perspective on the topic. Nick Morris gives a personal story, and Howard Mutrie and Eric Martin get technical with standards. Rachel Whymark discusses car parking related to Specialist Disability Accommodation. As with all standards there are always some anomalies and these are discussed.  

You can read the magazine online using ISSUU, or you can download the PDF version.  

You can also see back issues of the newsletter on the ACAA website

 

Street Smart: A Pedestrian’s View

CUDA Director John Evernden gave a presentation at the UD2020 Webinar, People and Transport. His presentation, Street Smart: A Pedestrian’s View, shows pictures of various situations to show what works and what doesn’t. Most pictures are self explanatory in a PDF of his picture show (with Alt text). This is truly where “the rubber hits the road”. 

Header slide of Street Smart presention.

Sound Advice!

Sound Advice: ET, the ExtraTerrestrial wrapped in a white blanket standing against a backdrop of a starry night sky.
Sound is fundamental to both films and learning but alternatives or supplementary supports must be provided. Source: Couleur from Pixabay

Did you know, that according to Empireonline.com, an ice-cream cone was used to produce the sound of raptors hatching in the film, Jurassic Park? Or that jelly, popcorn and liver were used to create the sound of ET’s movement in the film of the same name?

Auditory input is integral to most films, so too is it an important part of learning and teaching. It helps explain learning content and express emotion. However, for some learners, processing auditory information is challenging or impractical. Challenges may stem from hearing impairment, competing sources of auditory information (eg background noise, multiple people speaking at the same time, music, etc), the location of the learner (eg on the train), the time it takes to process auditory information or even difficulties with memory, so here is some sound advice!

Practical Strategies

Awareness of these potential barriers allows educators to provide alternatives or supplements to auditory information. Captioning videos is a relatively simple way to allow an alternative to auditory information. Speech-to-text options also serve this purpose. Transcripts of lessons or seminars provide an alternative, too.

To supplement auditory information, enhance learning with visuals. These may include posters, infographics, diagrams, illustrations, photos or notations of music and other sounds. Making use of symbols and emoticons to supplement auditory information is another option. Where required, sign language and braille options must be considered.

Other visual and tactile information serves to supplement auditory information, too. Consider the ‘yellow line’ on a train platform. In addition to announcements over the intercom to stand behind the yellow line, train stations have signage sharing the message and tactile ground surface indicators (the rows of slightly raised circular markers). The provision of auditory, visual and tactile messaging serves to reduce barriers to understanding.

Find more sound advice to reduce barriers to learning on the CUDA website.

UD2020 Conference published papers

The Griffith University logo in black and white with the words published by ePress.COVID-19 prevented UD2020 conference from going ahead in May this year, but not before some of the speakers had finished writing their papers. As we had to postpone yet again to May 2021, it seemed too long to wait. So CUDA’s People and Transport webinar last week provided the perfect opportunity launch the papers. 

With the support of Griffith University we can now bring you eleven peer reviewed papers and extended abstracts. As you can see, they cover a wide range of topics. We look forward to hearing from the authors at the conference next year. 

Community-based studios for enhancing students’ awareness of universal design principles

Universal design in housing: Reporting on Australia’s obligations to the UNCRPD

From niche to mainstream: local government and the specialist disability housing sector

Thriving at School: How interoception is helping children and young people in learning everyday 

Universal Design and Communication Access 

Achieving visual contrast in built, transport and information environments for everyone, everywhere, everyday 

Mobility Scooters in the Wild: Users’ Resilience and Innovation 

Understanding the Differences between Universal Design and Inclusive Design implementation: The Case of an Indonesian Public Library  

Accessible Events: A multi-dimensional Approach to Temporary Universal Design

Everyone, everywhere, everyday: A case for expanding universal design to public toilets  

Reframing Universal Design: Creating Short Videos for Inclusion

Faith is wearing a white shirt. She has a mix of grey and dark hair and is smiling at the camera.The papers were launched at the webinar by Dr Faith Valencia-Forrester.

Social factors and accessibility

a man stands in front of a wall covered in bright coloured post it notes which have different ideas and actionsSocial factors influence how people with disability choose to use their technology. So they are sometimes disadvantaged because they don’t want to be “different”. Design for Social Accessibility is an approach that encourages designers to focus on social as well as functional factors in their designs. 

Using a workshop method, researchers worked with designers to bring about a change in their attitudes, and to see the effectiveness of the Design for Social Accessibility approach. The results are published in Incorporating Social Factors in Accessible Design. It is a lengthy read because it includes quotes from workshop participants and the reporting is very thorough. They conclude that accessible design is within the reach of professional designers if given appropriate tools and resources. Designing technologies for people with disability does not exclude people without disability. The focus of this study is on people with vision impairment. However, the principles are applicable to the design of any product or place. The article is open source.

Abstract: Personal technologies are rarely designed to be accessible to disabled people, partly due to the perceived challenge of including disability in design. Through design workshops, we addressed this challenge by infusing user-centered design activities with Design for Social Accessibility—a perspective emphasizing social aspects of accessibility—to investigate how professional designers can leverage social factors to include accessibility in design. We focused on how professional designers incorporated Design for Social Accessibility’s three tenets: (1) to work with users with and without visual impairments; (2) to consider social and functional factors; (3) to employ tools—a framework and method cards—to raise awareness and prompt reflection on social aspects toward accessible design. We then interviewed designers about their workshop experiences. We found DSA to be an effective set of tools and strategies incorporating social/functional and non/disabled perspectives that helped designers create accessible design.

 

Annual Report 2018-2019

Panel session at the Brisbane UD Conference.CUDA made much progress this year and contributed to many events and community consultations. The website and social media views continued to receive good attention throughout the year.  Key points from the Annual Report 2018-2019 are:

    • Our first online learning course, Introduction to Universal Design, had a 44% completion rate from 440 enrolments.
    • Preparation for and staging of the 3rd Universal Design Conference in Brisbane.
    • Participation in events to promote universal design, including a breakfast event organised in conjunction with Lend Lease.
    • Conference presentations included 4 papers at the UD conference in Dublin, Ireland, and Community Housing Industry Association Conference
    • Invited contributor to two magazines: Inner Sydney Voice and Building Connection.
    • Submissions and contributions to public policy through committee representation, roundtables and written submissions to government inquiries.

The full Annual Report can be downloaded in PDF format. The picture above is from the UD Conference in Brisbane with Lenna Klintworth at the lectern, Emily Steel, Jane Bringolf, Penny Galbraith and Chris Veitch.

 

 

Building Code: Rights and Research

picture of a modern building Norway Opera House.Building regulation is a highly contested space, especially in relation to disability access. So the Norwegian Building Authority decided that standards and codes should be based on evidence rather than the views, compromises and experience of interest groups. The Norwegian Research Laboratory for Universal Design was set up to focus on access solutions using established research methods. But this brings about a dilemma.

People with disability have fought for many years to have equal access to the built environment. “Some of the criteria have been based on compromises and “old truths”. These criteria are now put under scrutiny. This examination and possible reversal of minimum requirements may feel like a slap in the face of those who have fought for these rights. But what is the possible downside?” 

Their research results are based on the 90th percentile. But what happens to those who are outside the 90%?  Who pays for the compensatory adaptations or assistance? This is where it becomes political. Nevertheless, research by the Laboratory suggests that “those who cannot manage the minimum levels cannot manage any level”.

The paper provides some interesting research results on doorway approaches and ramp gradients. A relatively short paper with some good food for thought.

The title of the paper is, Deregulation of the Building Code and the
Norwegian Approach to Regulation of Accessibility in the Built Environment

Abstract: Deregulation is on the political agenda in the European countries. The Norwegian building code related to universal design and accessibility is challenged. To meet this, the Norwegian Building Authority have chosen to examine established truths and are basing their revised code on scientific research and field tests. But will this knowledge-based deregulation comply within the framework of the anti-discrimination act and, and if not: who suffers and to what extent?  

This project is part of the quest for Norway Universally Designed by 2025 and the updated Action Plan

Tourism marketing toolkit

Front cover of the workbook.Bill Forrester has a new marketing workbook for the tourist industry. It’s to help resorts, hotels and other accommodation collect key information and create an accessibility guide. It includes a detailed self audit tool to help with this. There’s lots of good tips at the beginning of the workbook that cost nothing and are easy to implement. 

Saying your accommodation is “accessible” is not enough information. It means different things to different people – specific information is needed. Pictures are important too. While most disabilities are invisible, it is useful to include a person with a visible disability within a group. Pictures of rooms and facilities are important too, especially if you include room dimensions and floor plans with furniture layout. 

“The workbook is not a statutory audit checklist, it is designed to be used as a “walk-through” tool to enable you to collect information on your facilities.”

“Having a tag line of “call us for accessibility information” is putting potential customers at a disadvantage over other customers searching on the internet and potentially putting your establishment at a competitive disadvantage over your competitors.”

The workbook comes in two formats: online on the Travability website or download the PDF.