Universal Design Guidelines from Singapore

shows a man carrying a small child on his shoulders and a young woman pushing an older man in a wheelchairThe Singapore Government’s Universal Design Guidelines for commercial buildings has been well thought out and is presented clearly with many illustrations and drawings. This is a comprehensive guide that goes beyond basic accessibility requirements of previous guidelines. Access consultants might wish to compare this document with the Australian Access to Premises Standard, and the guidelines which can be downloaded from the Human Rights Commission website.

Singapore is keen to progress universal design and has a Universal Design Department within the Building and Construction Authority. 

Dementia Friendly Assessment Tool

Front cover of the publication has lime green with text and a man bending down to pet a wallaby.The 2015 edition of the Dementia Friendly Community Environmental Assessment Tool  provides a relatively simple checklist that takes in many of the regular aspects of accessibility overlaid with design thought for people with dementia. A good place to start your thinking. The more recent online resource from Dementia Training Australia expands on the 2015 edition and goes into more detail. Sections can be downloaded separately. There are three parts in the handbook:

  • Part 1 ‘Key Design Principles’ contains a description of key design principles.
  • Part 2 ‘The Dementia Friendly Community – Environmental Assessment Tool (DFC-EAT)’ introduces the DFC-EAT and provides directions for its use.
  • Part 3 ‘Using the Spreadsheet’ contains a guide to scoring the DFC-EAT and showing the results graphically.  

Home Renovations Tool

Front cover of the publication with the title of a way to stay.Scope Home Access has developed a Home Modification Assessment Tool, which is mainly for specialised home adaptations, but there are some useful mainstream ideas, particularly for ageing in place. For older people who are thinking ahead about how to stay put as they age, the checklist, although long, does give some good things to think about. However, not everyone wants to think ahead to a time when they might need these designs. That’s the problem.

The tool is good for builders who want to know what to think about in their designs for client renovations. There is also a health and ability checklist at the end. It is the kind of tool best used in conjunction with an occupational therapist.  

Wayfinding Design Guidelines

front cover of the wayfinding design guidelines.Wayfinding requires designers to organise and communicate the relationships of space in the environment. Basically, it is the naming and marking of places, identifying destinations, and providing directional information. The Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation produced a comprehensive, if somewhat technical, set of wayfinding design guidelines.

The guidelines covers basic principles, and very detailed design solutions and strategies, covering topics such as arrival point, main entry, internal arrival point, graphic communication, restrooms and toilets, lifts, and signage design. Sign legibility, system design criteria, and viewing distance to signs are all covered, plus much more. Wayfinding is a key element of accessibility for everyone. Making signs and systems universally designed for everyone requires additional thought and planning. 

AS 1428.4.2 Wayfinding Standard, was published in 2018 by Standards Australia. 

A grey marble wall has numbers embossed on it. It is difficult to see unless there is shadow on the embossing because the marbling effect disguises it.
How not to see a sign

Editor’s Note: I’ve come across a designer or two who consider signs and signage an imposition on their design and try to minimise their use or placement.  This picture shows how one designer thought that disguising signage was a good idea. Architectural wayfinding strategies minimise the need for lots of signs.