From Norway comes an Age Friendly Handbook that presents information in easy to consume formats. Norway has been driving a universal design agenda through national and local government since 1999. Norway’s key document for this is Norway Universally Designed 2025. This Handbook fits nicely within that framework but with an emphasis on an ageing population. The WHO Age-Friendly Cities guide is useful and detailed, but it’s showing its age. So this handbook comes at a good time.
The Handbook for Age-Friendly Communitiesis 70 pages with many photos and graphics. It covers the key steps in the planning cycle, aspects to consider in built design, transport, housing and social participation. Pre-requisites for age-friendly development are co-creation and communication.
Elements not considered in the WHO guide are plain language, internet use and how to co-create and gather information from older people. Checklists and examples are included. Fortunately the Handbook is in English so many more people can benefit from Norway’s 20 year’s experience. A great resource, particularly for local government.
Virginia Richardson is setting up a new universal design interest group for local government staff. This new network will enable like-minded people to share experiences and skills in universal design and inclusive practice.
Local government staff and others with an interest in local government are invited to join this new network. If you are interested in joining, Virginia asks that you complete the online form.
The objectives of the Network are:
Greater understanding of how UD is being applied in a Local Government setting
Support for UD policies to be adopted by more Councils
Opportunities for shared professional development and capacity building
Potential for joint advocacy to improve State and Federal legislation
This is a great initiative by Virginia Richardson who works for the Mornington Peninsular Shire Council in Victoria. The acronym works too – LGUDN (elgood’n).
Editor’s note: It would be good to see more special interest groups and networks set up to help with the implementation of universal design across different fields of work.
It seems the need for all councils in NSW to have a Disability Inclusion Action Planis starting to have an effect. As part of the plan councils have to be informed by an access and inclusion committee made up of residents, usually with a disability. And now the message is getting through according to an article on the ABC website. Some councillors are taking to the streets in wheelchairs, and with glasses that mimic low vision. This moves council staff from the “tick the box” compliance list to better understanding why certain features and design details are needed. For example, why benches for sitting are no good unless they have backrests and armrests, and why footpaths need to be continuous and not just end suddenly so that you are left walking on grass. The other message from these committees is that accessibility is everyone’s business, not just the ageing and disability coordinator.