Access Standard for Other Standards

The front cover of the CEN-CENELEC Guide.Did you know that all Australian Standards should include accessibility issues when they are being written? If you are on a standards committee or working party then it’s important to know. There are two documents relevant to this topic.

The ISO Guide 71 is a global standard and applies to Australia as well as other countries. CEN is the European standards agency. Their document is an adoption of ISO Guide 71. So, basically the same information. 

Both standards are relevant to implementing the UNCRPD* and related national policies across the world. It is also useful for manufacturers and educators. Discussion on standards might seem a bit dry, but when you think of all the official Standards that are developed, it is good to know there is a guide for addressing accessibility issues within the content of those Standards. Key points are:

“ISO/IEC Guide 71:2014 provides guidance to standards developers on addressing accessibility requirements and recommendations in standards that focus, whether directly or indirectly, on systems (i.e. products, services and built environments) used by people. To assist standards developers to define accessibility requirements and recommendations, it presents a summary of current terminology relating to accessibility, issues to consider in support of accessibility in the standards development process, a set of accessibility goals (used to identify user accessibility needs), descriptions of (and design considerations for) human abilities and characteristics, and strategies for addressing user accessibility needs and design considerations in standards.”

The CEN Guide “… is an important goal for the whole of society that all people, regardless of their age, size or ability, have access to the broadest range of systems. Issues of accessibility to and usability of systems have become more critical as the number of people (such as older persons, children, persons with reduced abilities and persons with disabilities) with diverse user accessibility needs has increased.”

*The UNCRPD is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Age-Friendly city or no place to grow old?

WHO age friendly logo of 8 petals showing the 8 domains of lifeAge Friendly Cities has its founding concepts in healthy ageing. Well if it’s healthy for older people it’s healthy for everyone. These cities should be walkable, compact and have infrastructure that supports liveability. But planning laws haven’t adapted to this. They continue to address ageing in terms of age-segregated living arrangements. 

Canada was at the forefront of the development of the WHO Age Friendly Cities program in 2006. But that hasn’t been enough to overcome entrenched planning and development processes. No Place to Grow Old: How Canadian Suburbs Can Become Age-Friendly, found that although planners and others have concerns about an ageing population, their thinking hasn’t adapted. Consequently, little has changed in the last ten years. 

The survey found that older people were still seen as a special-needs group rather than establishing inclusive policy solutions. The report makes some useful recommendations and the findings are applicable to any urban area in any location.

You can find a list of Australian cities or communities that are members of the WHO Global Network of Age Friendly Cities on the WHO website. You can also find out how your community can become a member of the Global Network.

The graphic above depicts the 8 domains of life that need to be considered in making a community age-friendly: Housing, Transportation, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Community Support and Health Services, Communication and Information, and Civic Participation and Employment. An argument was made at the International Federation of Ageing Conference in 2016 that housing should be in the centre of the the petals as it is the central part of everyone’s life.

Consumers, care and ageism

A man sits on a bench in a garden near a building.Are customers the same as citizens? Consumers are part of the market. Citizens are part of society. There are consumer rights and then there are human rights. Older people are treated as consumers of specialised housing products. They are not treated as citizens in their own homes. This is one of the messages to come out if the Royal Commission.

In The Fifth Estate article, Willow Aliento says of the care and retirement living sectors, “…the inquiry found that there had been a shift towards thinking about the aged care sector as an “industry” with “customers”, rather than a social service for older citizens.” This is an important factor because this approach dehumanises residents. Even the retirement living sector is fundamentally ableist because they only advertise “active living”. 

The article discusses how poor design of the physical environments with large, noisy facilities and poor visual layouts contributes to residents’ reduced quality of life and care. it also cover issues of downsizing and pension and assets tests. Complex issues are tackled well in this article titled, How ageist, ableism and inequity are creating “shelter hell’ for older people

 

Are you Diverse or Diversish?

A mosaic of many different faces and nationalitiesSometimes wry humour and satire is the way to get the message across. Sheri Byrne-Haber’s article You might be #Diversish if… explains what Diversish means. It’s a satirical term for businesses and organisations that call themselves diverse because they have a diversity policy. However, when you look at what they actually do, the policy is just collecting dust. So their claims lack authenticity. The article includes a British satirical video that really represents many of the business conversations around diversity. Funny but serious.

Artificial Intelligence: A framework

Infographic of the proportion of 272 different stakeholder groups.A discussion paper was released on 5 April 2019 to encourage conversations about AI ethics in Australia. This paper included a set of draft AI ethics principles. 130 submissions were received from a wide range of stakeholders, including one from CUDA. The Australian AI Principles are ready for testing and are:

    • Human, social and environmental wellbeing
    • Human-centred values
    • Fairness
    • Privacy protection and security
    • Reliability and safety
    • Transparency and explainability
    • Contestability
    • Accountability

You can find out more detail in a list of insights from the consultations. You can ask a question or give feedback via an online form at the bottom of the Department of Industry website on this topic.

It is good to see human-centred values and human, social and environmental wellbeing now included. A closer look shows that older people, people with disability, people from diverse backgrounds and children are included in these principles by virtue of including human rights. The Fairness Principle includes mentions of Inclusion and Accessibility. 

Smart Cities for All

cover of Smart Cities Toolkit.How smart can a smart city be? ‘Smart’ is everything from the footpath to the website. So not so smart if it doesn’t include everyone and join the dots between all the factors that make a city a city.  With digital transformations happening worldwide, the aim of the Smart Cities for All Toolkit is to eliminate the digital divide and improve urban environments for everyone. In the video below, James Thurston talks about the issues cities are facing.

The main part of the toolkit, the Inclusive Innovation Playbook, is detailed and aimed at a policy and planning level. Stakeholder participation and inclusion is an essential theme. Case studies assist with understanding. There is a helpful checklist at the end of the Playbook. There’s a lot to digest, but this means it isn’t a cursory overview with simplistic solutions. It goes much deeper than a digital accessibility checklist. This is about joining the dots across city assets and leveraging them for everyone’s benefit. Other sections of the toolkit cover: 

    • Toolkit Overview
    • Guide to adopting an ICT accessibility procurement policy
    • Implementing priority ICT accessibility standards
    • Communicating the case for stronger commitment to digital inclusion in cities
    • Database of solutions for digital inclusion in cities

“The toolkit supports a range of organizations and roles related to Smart Cities, including government managers, policy makers, IT professionals, disability advocates, procurement officials, technology suppliers, and developers who design Smart City apps and solutions.

Each of the tools addresses a priority challenge identified by global experts as a barrier to the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in Smart Cities.”  See also Smart Cities for All: A Vision

James Thurston of 3Gict discusses the issues in the video below.  

Persistence, Policy and Research

Parliament House, Canberra Australia facade.How well can evidence influence policy? Evidence can sometimes be an inconvenient political truth. This situation is frustrating for researchers and advocates alike. A few tips could help. Ten things to know about how to influence policy with research provides some helpful guidance. 

    1. Know what you want to influence – be clear about the policy issue
    2. Find out who you want to influence – who has the power?
    3. Consider when to influence
    4. Build relationships and networks
    5. Policy development is not a linear process
    6. Policy making is inherently political
    7. Plan your engagement
    8. Focus on idea and be propositional – be constructive
    9. It takes time, stick at it
    10. Monitor, learn and adjust along the way
    11. There are links to other useful references for researchers

Seems persistence is the key – don’t give up, says David McDonald. The 10 things to know was developed by the Overseas Development Institute based on years of experience. Find out more about the ten things. Here at CUDA, we are remaining persistent about implementing universal design everywhere.

Ageing with Choice in Western Australia

Ageing with Choice front cover.Ageing with Choice is Western Australia’s blueprint for “seniors housing”. One might ask, why only for older people? The Future Directions document has housing as part of the concept of being age-friendly and having connected communities. Some research went into the document and there are no real surprises. There are seven priority areas and a list of actions to follow. A good example of planning for the longevity revolution. A well set-out document with lots of infographics. 

Editor’s Note: There should be a note of caution about ancillary dwellings in the family back yard. That is, if the family splits up or has to move with their jobs, what happens to grandma? She doesn’t own the land. Also, to date, most ancillary dwellings are rented out to supplement family income. But this is a good idea for increasing rental stock for all ages. Downsizing should also be cautioned in terms of living in a small home. Research is still showing a preference for three bedrooms to give “room to move” especially if partnered. But most older people want to downsize their maintenance and gardening. I also noted some of the infographics are still based on mythical population segments.

Strategy priorities are :

Age-friendly communities
Homes that support ageing in place
Affordable housing innovations and alternatives to home ownership
Better options for renters
A more age-responsive social housing system
Assistance for those experiencing housing crisis
Informed decision-making

Ageing with Choice: Future directions for seniors housing 2019-2024 can be downloaded from the Western Australia Government website.

 

Design and Inequality

Front cover of the journal. A black background with an orange abstract design.The introduction to a special issue of Design Issues focuses on the way design can reproduce inequality in society. It asks questions such as: In what ways do designers or design processes emerge in relation to social inequalities? How can the discussion of inequality be broadened within design practices? This introduction discusses the rise of design and refers to different concepts and debates relating to design and designing. An academic journal asking important questions about the role of design in exercising power, creating accessibility, capitalism and consumption, cultural reproduction, oppression and neglect. An important contribution to the discourse on design.

The introduction is titled, On the Need for Mapping Design Inequalities, by Mona Sloane. Subscription to the full journal Design Issues is required to read the other contributions.

“This collection offers Design Issues readers insight into the
multi-layered connections between design and inequalities. All the
articles address issues that are both deeply sociological and acutely
concerned with design. They move across themes like the economy,
labor, gender, disability, politics, colonization, material culture,
class, and (social) policy. The essays clearly position themselves in
the context of design inequality by pushing for greater criticality
and reflexivity in design scholarship and practice.”

 

Voices of people with autism in a book

Front cover of the text book.The autism research field has changed a lot in the last 20 years. One of the key findings is the impact the research process has on people with autism. So including the voices of people with autism is really important. With this in mind, a new version of a text book has sections written by autistic contributors from all walks of life. Neurodiversity is a relatively new concept and area of study. There is still much work to do in understanding the diversity of ways autistic people navigate the world around them. 

There is a separate link to the discussion on how the authors went about including people with the lived experience of autism. This link also gives a short chapter by chapter review of the book’s content.

The title of the book is, Autism: A new introduction to psychological theory and current debate. It’s by Sue Fletcher-Watson and Francesca Happe. 

If you want a more personal approach to autism, you can read a transcript of an interview with Louis Scarantino – an autism advocate.  

The Autism Research Council has published its research priorities for 2019.