Tag Archives: accessible design

Why Truly Accessible Design Benefits Everyone

Universal Design is better for all humans, not just the disabled

Illustration by Raquel Kalil

WWhen I became paralyzed at the age of 15, I learned to live by hacking. Can’t walk anymore? Hack ambulation with a wheelchair.

15 or so years later, I live more or less independently. I drive my own car and I live in a house. I even dress and feed myself. But I still rely on hacks every day. To drive my own car, it needed to be hacked with hand controls. To live in a house, it needed to be hacked with ramps. And when hacks don’t work, I have to absolutely and completely rely on the kindness of strangers. I don’t know if you’ve met many strangers, but I wouldn’t say they’re all kind.

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Universal Design for Who?

Pyramid describing various users who benefit from UA. The bottom of the pyramid includes agile users, as the pyramid moves up it illustrates examples of limitations that people start to face, including age, gender, culture and various life stages. The top of the pyramid is a person who might need the assistance of two other people to function optimally in an environment or to experience a service fully.

Written by Colette Fransolet of Inclusive Design

Colette Fransolet

Universal Design, which is the action (verb) of creating Universal Access (adjective), benefits a large percentage of our population. Universal Design, which can also be referred to as “good design” recognises that all people have different requirements and abilities, that would enable them to contribute fully in all spheres if life.

Universal Access responds to individual and shared needs and is not associated with “special” needs.

Therefore being cognisant and designing appropriately means considering the needs of children, elderly people, persons with mobility, sight and/or cognitive limitations, persons who have linguistic challenges (eg: foreigners, people who are uneducated or persons with various forms of dyslexia), women who are pregnant, parents pushing prams or strollers, persons who are inebriated, persons who have become obese, very tall people, very short people, service personnel (cleaning staff and people doing deliveries) and people who require luggage access. The crux of Universal Access is therefore that all people, at some point during their lifetime, will experience “disability” due to being unable to participate in a social, cultural, political or economic activity. It is therefore fundamental to the concept of UA that it be understood that it is not the person that has the disability or lack of function that prevents their participation, but rather that the environment, service, facility, information or system poses a disability onto a person.

These concepts are not new and are largely supported by well published experts in the field of Universal Design (such as W. Preiser and E. Ostroff (editors) of the Universal Design Handbook (2001), published in the USA by McGraw-Hill, and S. Goldsmith author of Universal Design: A manual of Practical Guidelines for Architects (2000) published in Oxford by Architectural Press).

Selwyn Goldsmith made valuable contribution of the understanding of Universal Design, and one such contribution was through the well published and commonly referenced drawing, called the “Universal Design Pyramid” (2000: 3), which demonstrates the bottom-up approach of UD, with the bottom row demonstrating fit and agile people and the top row demonstrating a person who would require the assistance of two other people. Goldsmith’s pyramid serves to illustrate people who are most vulnerable to architectural discrimination, which is consequently depicted by persons with mobility limitations, with the only exception being a person using a guide dog (in row 5 of the original pyramid).

Preiser and Ostroff (2001: Chapter 3.11) made the following statement, referring to the designing for people on either end of the age spectrum:

“As we struggle for a world that is seamlessly accessible, seamlessly supportive, and seamlessly caring, we must never forget that no machine will ever be able to replace the superior wisdom that comes only with age and experience.” And “neither should we forget that it is childhood that provides the foundation for that superior wisdom”

Working as a Universal Access Consultant and having the privilege to have experienced the process of understanding that many of my clients go through, I wanted to be able to use the concept of the pyramid from Goldsmith, but in the broader context. Often (in fact mostly) clients who would like to have a Universal Design Access Plan put in place to reach better BBBEE scores or to accommodate an employee who has become disabled, mostly consider people with mobility limitations as the only spectrum of people to accommodate when it comes to Universal Access. In order to overcome this limited understanding of the users, I have added to and slightly modified Goldsmith’s pyramid to be more inclusive of the spectrum of people who benefit from Universal Access, not only in the built environment but also through services, information and systems.

While the top of the pyramid is still defined by a person with a mobility limitation who requires the assistance of two people, the rest of the pyramid demonstrates the wider range of users of spaces, services and environments, including a range of functional abilities, cultural requirements, daily activities, a variation in age, health, communication and auditory requirements. The notion of the pyramid is that by designing for a particular row, the users below that row would also benefit from the resulting design, but that users above that row would be unable to function optimally in the design.

If you’d like to find out more about how to include various users in a space, service and environment, please visit https://www.inclusivedesign.co.za/, we’d love to hear from you. (This article, written by the author, is from https://www.inclusivedesign.co.za/universal-access-for-who)

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Young Designer Creates Cooking Tools For The Blind

Hey there, I learnt about this through ChannelNewsAsia’s Instagram account. While the title is self explanatory, it’s an interesting and inspiring video that gets people thinking about all the problems that could be solved by the talented individuals out there, if only we knew how to bring the two together. One comment on the video […]

via Young Designer Creates Cooking Tools For The Blind — Jaime consumes pop culture

Putting people first by Experientia

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation, by international UX consultancy Experientia

The difference between Inclusive Design and Accessibility

If you’re familiar with what we do here at Eone, you probably know that we’re an inclusive design company, known for our feature product, the Bradley timepiece.

But what is inclusive design? And what’s the difference between inclusive design and accessibility? We’d love to tell you more about our design philosophy and why it’s important!

Two things we really care about are good design and inclusion for people with disabilities. What started as a simple problem shared between friends blossomed into Eone: a company with a social mission to create beautiful, functional products that meet the needs of as many people as possible. And that’s the core of inclusive design.

The Problem With Good Design: Why Good Design Isn’t Good Enough

The truth is that “good design” considers the best form and function for some people, but excludes many people on the basis of ability — and individuals with disabilities are often left out. We want to change that.

We’ve built Eone on our core conviction that design should be inclusive, bringing more people in instead of shutting them out. We believe that design shouldn’t discriminate or divide us up, but bring us together.

We believe that individuals with disabilities should have equal and integrated access to quality products, services, and structures — that everyone has a right to enjoy beautiful, functional design, and that we all benefit when we enjoy design together.

We believe inclusive design is a social justice issue.

Through inclusive design, we’re creating the change we wish to see in the world.

What is Inclusive Design?

Sometimes called universal design, inclusive design considers as many people’s needs and abilities as possible. Instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all user experience, inclusive design aims to please a diverse range of individuals and accommodate a variety of experiences and ways of interacting with the world.

Inclusive design recognizes that our needs shift with time and circumstance, so it anticipates different ways an individual might interact with the world as life goes on. Aging, permanent or temporary disability, carrying a load of grocery bags, pushing a stroller, or sitting in a business meeting are some examples of circumstances that impact how you interact with the world around you — circumstances that might change what you do or how you do things.

What’s the Difference Between Inclusive Design and Accessibility?

While inclusive design considers from the very beginning how something might be easily useful and enjoyable for as many individuals as possible, accessibility traditionally means making special considerations for people with disabilities. It’s the difference between designing a watch that can be read by touch or sight, and taking a standard analog watch and adding braille instead of numbers. The first example considers the functionality and beauty of a watch that doesn’t require sight, while the second example tries to take something designed for vision and make it work for touch without addressing some of the problems this modification creates.

Unlike assistive devices, inclusive design doesn’t specifically target people with disabilities. While assistive devices fill in the gaps left by exclusionary design practices, inclusive design aims to evolve products beyond their conventional definitions, changing our standards for products. Assistive devices aim to remove a barrier for people with disabilities. Inclusive design strives to fundamentally redesign a product so that the barrier does not exist in the first place. Assistive technology is reactive. Inclusive design is proactive.

How Eone Approaches Accessibility

At Eone, we utilize both approaches: building accessibility into what we do from the beginning, and addressing issues of access on platforms we use but do not own.

There are certain cases in which Eone cannot make something inclusive because we do not have control over design and user experience, such as social media platforms, retailer partner websites, and other properties we do not own. However, to the best of our ability, we aim to make accessible our use of platforms and third party sites — using the features available to us in ways that accommodate the most users.

From Eone website

Universal Design Toolkit

With rising health care costs & disability challenges, today’s Boomer generation wants to age at home …
with independence, safety and peace of mind.

  Are you ready to meet their demands??

By Universal Design Expert and motivational speaker Rosemarie Rossetti

“My new book is a great resource as you prepare to live in your home for a lifetime. As a person who uses a wheelchair and designed and built my home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory, let me help you remodel your home and know what to look for in your next home.

This is a great reference for occupational therapists, builders, remodelers, architects, interior designers, Realtors, physical therapists, and consumers.”

“Universal Design Toolkit: Time-saving ideas, resources, solutions, and guidance for making homes accessible” is a 200-page full color illustrated resource packaged with four hours of online videos and webinars.

Learn more, get a free chapter, and buy this Toolkit at Universal Design Toolkit