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.
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 and 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.
“The livable and adaptable house” is a chapter in the technical guide, Your Home,published in 2013 by the the Australian Government. If you want use the Adaptable Housing Standard AS4299, and not the more recent Livable Housing Design Guidelines, this guide will be useful. There are many detailed diagrams to help explain design features and floor plans. The chapter on The Livable and Adaptable Home was written by Jasmine Palmer and Stephen Ward. They make distinctions between livable, accessible and adaptable designs. Reference to the public building access standard (AS1428.1) for an “accessible” home can lead to institutional designs that lack design creativity. AS1428.1 was not intended for application in residential dwellings, which is one of the reasons the Livable Housing Design Guidelines were developed.
Introduction: Many people, when building a new home, anticipate spending a number of years, if not decades, living in it. Others may conceive of a shorter stay. Whatever the intention, any new home is likely to have to accommodate changing needs over its lifetime. A livable and adaptable house is one that is able to respond effectively to these needs without requiring costly and energy intensive alterations.
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 guidelines for wayfinding.
The guide 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.
Editor’s Note: I have 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.
Media Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications. Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides.