Spatial Experiences of Dwarves – research paper

coverThis article comes from the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research.

Abstract:  Dwarfism is commonly defined as anyone 4ft 10″ (147.32 cm) or below and whose short stature involves a medical condition [Adelson, M. B. 2005. The Lives of Dwarfs, xv. NJ: Rutgers University Press]. Whilst it recognized that the built environment is unsuitable for dwarfs [see Kruse, R. 2002. “Social Spaces of Little People: The Experiences of the Jamisons.” Social and Cultural Geography 3 (2): 175–191, Kruse, R. 2010. “Placing Little People: Dwarfism and Geographies of Everyday Life.” In Towards Enabling Geographies, edited by V. Chouinard, E. Hall, and R. Wilton, 183–198. Surrey: Ashgate; Shakespeare, T., M. Wright, and S. Thompson. 2007. A Small Matter of Equality: Living with Restricted Growth. Newcastle: Newcastle University], this paper critically examines how spaces and facilities designed with other users in mind, including disabled people and children, can have unintended consequences for dwarfs. The data used in this paper are taken from semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation exercises conducted with 22 dwarfs living in the UK. Overall this paper shows the spatial experiences of dwarfs, which are a result of the unintended consequences of disabled child spaces and facilities, and suggests how Universal Design may be a more appropriate design concept. You will need academic library access for the full paper or it can be purchased. Here is the link.

Universal Access is not Universal Design

The next universal design conference (hosted by Association of Consultants in Access Australia – ACAA) is coming up on 7-9 October in Melbourne.  Here is a reminder of one of the panel presentations from the 2014 conference in Sydney.

UD Conference headerMark Relf traced the history of disability access and universal design in Australia. His presentation, Universal Access is not Universal Design, provided an excellent context to the position of universal design today. The transcript of his presentation is included in the Panel session on Day 2 of the conference:  Panel Session Day 2 in Word;   Panel Session Day 2 PDF.

Impact of local built environment attributes on the elderly sociability

four women using wheelie walkers are crossing the road in single file.This article focuses on the importance of social connectedness for older people and how this is essential for ongoing health and wellbeing. However, environments continue to be designed and built in ways that are often detrimental to older people being able to get out and about and socialise.

The research showed that the qualities of “safety”, “attractiveness” and “inclusiveness” respectively are the most influential factors on the sociability of older people. The results also determined that fear of injury is the most limiting factor in using urban spaces.

Download the article by H. Khosravi , F. Gharai, and Sh. Taghavi, in the International Journal of Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning.

Abstract: Due to the change of lifestyle and improvement of public health the number of aged people has considerably increased. Considering the relationship of the environment and people, the built environment features could exacerbate or facilitate the elderly people’s vulnerability and social needs. Recently, a large number of studies have put emphasis on the relationship between the neighborhoods’ open spaces attributes and seniors’ social needs. This study seeks to investigate the impact of the built environment indicators on the time the elderly spent in urban spaces of Banafsheh neighborhood in Mashhad. In order to do this, through a cross-sectional survey research, 33 indicators were collected from recent studies and categorized in seven main urban design qualities based on perceived and self-report data collected by questionnaire. A regression analysis revealed the impact of each quality on the sociability of the elderly. Results demonstrate that in this context, “safety” is the most effective factor on the elderly presence in open spaces. “Attractiveness” and “all age presence” are at the next points.

Intergenerational Shared Spaces in the UK context

book cover intergenerational spaceThis book chapter by Julie Melville and Alan Hatton-Yeo discusses how the generations are separated by life activities and dwelling places. However, interaction between generations, particularly younger and older people, is considered beneficial for individuals and society as a whole. The chapter discusses the benefits and includes the concern that the design of the built environment is not conducive to sharing spaces across the generations. The WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program, which is underpinned by universal design, is starting to take off in Europe and this is discussed further as a means of bringing the generations together.While this book is not specifically about universal design, it is about inclusive practice and social inclusion.

Download the chapter here

Or go Google Books for the full book, Intergenerational Space, edited by Robert M Vanderbeck and Nancy Worth.

See also a short documentary on young people and cyber seniors.

Accessible Design in Australia

Accessible Design in Australia 1999 front coverIn 1998 a group of passionate people came together with the aim of creating a centre for accessible design. They consulted widely and held two symposia, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The findings from these symposia are documented in Accessible Design in Australia

For various reasons, the project ended at this point and no further action was taken. However, soon afterwards a small group, led by Dr Max Murray, started the Association of Consultants in Access Australia, Australia (ACAA). Centre for Universal Design Australia has picked up the threads to follow through on the aim of having a central point or body for creating an inclusive Australia. 

Norway universally designed by 2025 – Update

Top half of the front cover of the plan. The graphic is various shades of blue with a woman operating an automatic teller machineThe Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them across all policies to create maximum inclusion. This makes everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT. In 2008, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, launched its first Action Plan 2009-2013, which sets the goal of Norway being universally designed by 2025. In 2010, Norway amended its Planning and Building Act to include universal Picture of the front cover of the Norwegian Action Plandesign. In 2016, The Delta Centre was given responsibility, and funding, to coordinate the actions in the 2015-2019 plan. This plan is more comprehensive and covers ICT and communications to a more detailed level. This is in recognition of how we are becoming more reliant on digital applications.

Barriers to Universal Design in Australian Housing

IMGP0308 20percentFrom the Editor: I prepared a 2000 word version of my PhD thesis which is worth another look given the proposed changes to the National Construction Code for housing. Basically, my question was, why we are still building and designing homes as if none of us is ever going to grow old? The simple answer is that the industry runs on regulations to hold the house building system together, so nothing will change without regulations. Read the paper to find out more about the complexities of the house building industry and why there is resistance to change from both builders and purchasers. You can also download the accompanying slide show from the 2011 FICCDAT conference.

Jane Bringolf

(FICCDAT is, Festival of International Conferences on Caring, Disability, Aging and Technology.)