UK: The experience of students with disabilities following substantial changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowances system will be the primary focus of this year’s De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Annual Conference 2017.
This important subject matter will build on other significant topics discussed at previous DMU conferences as part of its sector-leading drive to make higher education accessible to all and to encourage further development of inclusive practice.
The event, entitled Universal Design for Inclusion, takes place at the university’s Hugh Aston Building, Vaughan Way, Leicester, on Wednesday 7 June from 9.15am until 4pm.
It will be of interest to anyone in the higher education sector and will consist of a mixture of whole-conference sessions as well as interactive workshops, with plenty of time for networking and sharing ideas.
DMU has been at the forefront of developing inclusive approaches to teaching and learning through its innovative Universal Design for Learning framework. It is the product of decades of research into how people learn and based on more than 800 different research studies.
This approach has received extensive praise from, among others, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Education, the latter of which asked DMU to contribute to its ‘Inclusive teaching and learning in higher education as a route to excellence’ guidance document.
The conference will explore subjects such as institution-wide approaches to inclusion, managing student referrals, ensuring students have an input into programme content, how apps can help students, and giving people the opportunity to hear about DMU’s adoption of the principle of Universal Design for Learning into all teaching and learning approaches.
The day will be opened by Jo Cooke, DMU’s Associate Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Student and Academic Services, who will introduce the university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard and the keynote speaker Bettina Rigg.
SINGAPORE: Wheelchair accessible weight machines at the gymnasium, staggered platforms with handrails at the swimming pool, extensive braille indicators, step-free entrances to units and bathrooms.
These are just some of the features that won serviced residence Ascott Orchard Singapore and Cairnhill Nine condominium the Universal Design (UD) Mark Platinum award, given out by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
Ascott Orchard Singapore, a 220-unit serviced residence that operates with a hotel licence, and Cairnhill Nine, a 268-unit condominium, make up the integrated development which sits atop a multi-storey carpark and the Al-Falah Mosque on Cairnhill Road.
It is the only project to win this top award out of the 30 awardees this year, the BCA said on Monday (May 15) during a viewing of two selected projects.
Introduced in 2012 by the BCA, the annual awards — which rate projects in increasing order of performance from Certified, Gold, Gold PLUS, to Platinum — give recognition to projects that incorporate user-friendly features to build an inclusive living environment.
Mr Andy Tan, 57, who has been on the wheelchair for the last three years and a former guest at Ascott Orchard Singapore, said that a gym with equipment for people on wheelchair is “an amazing idea”.
“I don’t know why they don’t have (such a design) earlier, because it’s exactly the people (who) are injured and weak that need to exercise more,” he said. Mr Tan is a regular patient at Paragon Medical Centre, and the integrated development is connected to the centre via a step-free link-bridge.
It is not just wheelchair users who can benefit from the development’s thoughtful features. Braille indicators are used extensively at navigation points to help people with vision disabilities find their way, as opposed to being just in elevators, the way it is in most residential areas today.
Mr Eng Tiang Wah, vice president of product development and design in CapitaLand Limited, the project’s developer, said: “Wherever we can add in little elements of universal design, we did it… From the towers, to the surroundings… down to even the benches that we sit on.”
Kallang Trivista, a public housing development comprising three blocks of 808 homes, was also awarded the Universal Design award (Gold PLUS), with facilities and spaces that catered to all age groups.
Ms Goh Hui Hoon, senior architectural associate at Surbana Jurong Consultants, the architectural firm of the project, said:
“Universal design means to think about the user first… We had to think about the facilities and amenities users would appreciate… and incorporate them into the design.”
The features were embraced fully by Madam Lee Peck Kiow, 61, who lives in a one-bedroom studio apartment at Kallang Trivista. She had been living in a three-room flat at Rochor Centre for 30 years before it was acquired by the Government.
Besides what she called the “million-dollar view” from her new home, with vistas of the Singapore Sports Hub, Kallang River, and the Singapore Flyer, Madam Lee is also pleased with the variety of amenities within the residential area. “There’s a Senior Activity Centre, childcare centre, 24-hour supermarket… it’s all so good,” she said, adding that she visits the activity centre to exercise and take part in taiji classes.
Other features at Kallang Trivista’s elder-friendly units include cabinets mounted at a lower height for wheelchair users, step-free bathrooms fitted with grab-bars, as well as an alarm alert system. When activated by pulling a string, the alert system notifies the Senior Activity Centre on the first floor. The resident’s unit number will also be displayed on a signage just outside the lift lobby on that floor, notifying neighbours who will be able to render help.
Madam Lee, who lives with her 58-year-old husband, said: “It’s very good because we never know what will happen to us. We may just fall ill or faint and we need urgent help.”
Muted colors and matte finishes create a soothing environment for children with autism. A slate-gray cooking surface on a cream porcelain countertop provides contrast for those with vision disabilities. And a low, shallow sink eases kitchen work from a wheelchair.
The Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has reenvisioned its residential-design demonstration studio to reflect an expanded focus on universal design and sustainability principles. The newly launched Center for Real Life Design now offers faculty and students a multifaceted laboratory for exploring design and technology solutions for people with a range of physical and cognitive abilities and consumers who want to be environmentally responsible.
The studio — which replaces a kitchen-design space that opened as a collaboration between the university and the kitchen industry in 1998 — is launching with a broadened mission as well as two new kitchens furnished with appliances and other products donated by a range of corporations in the residential design industry.
GE Appliances, a major donor to the original space, has contributed appliances to the new center as well. In advance of the opening, the company’s president and chief executive officer, Chip Blankenship, will offer a College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Executive Insights Interview. Blankenship, who earned his degree in materials engineering from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering in 1988, will present People and Their Homes: Launching the Center for Real Life Design on May 4 at 2 p.m. in the Fralin Auditorium at 360 West Campus Drive.
Following Blankenship’s presentation, three events will take place across the street in Wallace Hall: an introduction to the design concepts and solutions used in the new kitchens at 3 p.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:45 p.m., and a reception in the new space at 4 p.m. The Virginia Tech community and the public are invited to all four events.
“The reenvisioned center reflects our expanded commitment to all types of residential design,” said Julia Beamish, head of the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, which houses the center. “While kitchen design remains a key component in faculty research and student learning, other spaces in the home also need study to ensure they meet the needs and lifestyles of today’s families and consumers.”
The signature space — the Universal Design Kitchen — is intended to accommodate multigenerational households. The kitchen was designed by residential environments and design students, who incorporated planning for aging-in-place and variations in physical and cognitive abilities into their layout and product selection .
The main sink includes racks to provide adjustable depths for users of various heights. Cabinets raise and lower with the press of buttons. A cabinet for trash and recycling opens with just the coax of a finger or — when a cook’s hands are dripping with raw chicken juice — the touch of a knee.
Beamish points out that following universal design standards from the outset saves the need for later renovations and helps maintain property values.
The second renovated space, the Loft Kitchen, reflects an urban, sustainable, and multifamily lifestyle. The kitchen includes Energy Star appliances and ecofriendly materials. The sustainable cabinets qualify for LEED credits, a standard for green building design. The countertops are made from recycled glass, mirrors, porcelain, earthenware, and vitrified ash. The sink is scratch-resistant to preclude the need for frequent replacement, and the porcelain-tile backsplash was chosen to help brighten the kitchen, which uses LED lights throughout.
The Center for Real Life Design includes four additional demonstration kitchens, a classroom, a laundry area, and a small library.
In addition to GE Appliances, corporate donors for the new kitchens include Advanta Cabinets, Alberene Soapstone, Back to Nature Construction, Blum Hardware, Building Pro, Cosentino, Floored LLC, Johnson Granite, Kohler Company, Liberty Hardware, Lutron by French Inc., Mockett, MS International, Philips Lighting, Plain and Fancy Cabinetry, Seagull Lighting, and State Electric.
“The center is intended as a hands-on learning environment for activities related to universal design and residential design,” said Beamish. “Students learn to evaluate spaces and products that everyone can use.”
Faculty, educators and staff from various Wichita State entities participated in a Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) workshop, hosted by the Wichita State University College of Health Professions (CHP).
Examples of UDI practices include ensuring physical access to facilities, arranging classroom seating for clear lines of sight, providing materials in accessible electronic formats and captioning and transcribing videos. UDI can be applied to all aspects of instruction, including classroom environment, delivery methods, information resources and technology, feedback and assessment.
Sandra Bibb, dean of the College of Health Professions, says Universal Design of Instruction is about progressive positive change, and the CHP is moving forward in transforming their culture and how they think about instruction.
“Incorporating all these things without singling people out makes the Universal Design approach ideal for supporting diversity,” says Bibb. “We want to raise awareness regarding diversity that is invisible, in terms of learning needs, while continuing our focus on the importance of arranging for accommodation.”
Sheryl Burgstahler, affiliate professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington, designed and facilitated two small group discussions and a large workshop. In all three forums she emphasized that a universal design approach to curriculum can contribute to a more inclusive university culture.
“Most disabilities are invisible, and a student’s strengths and weaknesses are not always obvious,” she says. “We need to ask ourselves what we can do to be proactive and not just responsive.”
Burgstahler’s teaching and research focus on the successful transition of students with disabilities to college and careers and on the application of universal design to physical spaces, student services, technology and learning activities. She is also the founder and director of the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Center and the Access Technology Center (ATC).
For more information, visit http://www.washington.edu/doit/node/4001
TOKYO: In a meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe on Wednesday afternoon (22 February) in Tokyo, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven praised the Japanese government for the approval of the Universal Design 2020 Action Plan.
Under the terms of the plan approved this week, the government will redouble efforts to promote universal design for an inclusive society that is comfortable and accessible to everyone regardless of age, nationality and ability ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
During the meeting, which was also attended by Miss Marukawa, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and Taido Tanose, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology, Sir Philip Craven said: “The IPC’s aspiration is to make for a more inclusive society for people with an impairment through Para sport and in my view this new action plan is one of the first tangible legacies of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“Universal design will promote a barrier-free attitude amongst the people of Japan and make for more accessible facilities. I hope through this plan we will see the marrying of Japan’s strong traditions with the innovative culture that it is world renowned for in order to make for a more inclusive society.
“I also hope this plan extends to sports facilities around the country, making them accessible for people of all abilities who want to participate in sport. Such a move in the long-term will benefit Team Japan in their preparations for Tokyo 2020 and future Paralympic Games.”
Speaking to parliament earlier this week, Prime Minster Abe said: “Last year, our Japanese athletes put in strong performances at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Seeing Paralympians pull off an astonishing performance on the grand stage made me realise once again that Para sports has the power to invigorate people and society.
“Coming up is the Tokyo Games. We need to accelerate preparations in order to make this the world’s best Games.
“Furthermore, we will take the Tokyo Paralympic Games as an opportunity to realise a society of co-existence, a society in which those with disabilities can pursue their dreams and more fully harness their potential and capabilities, in the same manner as those without disabilities. This will become one of the greatest legacies of the Tokyo Games.
“Today, we have here people with disabilities including Paralympians, people involved with the Tokyo Games, relevant ministers including Minister Marukawa, among others, and we have compiled an action plan of the Government for the success of the Tokyo Paralympic Games and for the creation of a society of co-existence as a legacy of those Games.”
Following Wednesday’s meeting, Sir Philip presented Prime Minister Abe with a signed commemorative boccia set. Following Japan’s team silver in the sport at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, the sport has seen a surge in popularity in the 2020 host city.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will take place between 25 August and 6 September.
NEW YORK: The Universal Design Conference 2017, which will take place in New York, USA, March 9, 2017 at the Center for Architecture, aims to propagate the popularity of universal design and the need for universal accessibility.
The UD conference 2017 will be hosted by American Institute of Architects in New York’s Design for Aging Committee alongside Universal Design Management, LLC and AEC Professional’s Circle. The event will showcase a number of short, 18 minute talks on ideas, initiatives and projects to inspire individuals to endeavor to incorporate universal design in their design process.
The Event is a wide-ranging conference encompassing everything universal/inclusive design and how it will promote accessibility and ensure inclusion and equality for people of diverse abilities and backgrounds, no matter their size or age. Universal Design Management and AEC Professionals Circle are bringing together thought leaders of the Universal Design approach from interior design, technology, architecture, healthcare, building and construction, marketing, product manufacturing, education and government industries.
SINGAPORE: Senior architectural designer Richard Kuppusamy cuts an unusual sight in busy construction sites when he navigates expertly past enormous cranes and trucks, manoeuvres around floors scattered with various tools, and even gets on temporary hoists – in his wheelchair.
Born with spina bifida – a congenital spinal cord defect which leaves him paralysed from the waist down – Mr Kuppusamy has been in the construction industry for over 11 years and has never once been refused entry on site, even though he has drawn curious looks.
“There’s been (times) when the lift wasn’t ready yet, but it was never a matter of ‘we’re not providing access’ for you… And that willingness to do things has made it possible for me to work in this industry,” the 40-year-old told.
This willingness to provide access to him across the company’s front door as a wheelchair user, and the availability of a wheelchair accessible toilet, were the key questions he had for potential employers in 2012 when he considered returning home to be closer to his parents after spending 16 years in the UK training and working as an architect.
“Call me arrogant if you like… I knew my business and I knew I have skills to offer any employer… But I also knew my future is limited by my accessibility,” said Mr Kuppusamy, whose portfolio includes specialist emergency care hospitals, universities, retail and commercial developments, and even the BBC Scotland headquarters.
In the end, he joined architecture firm WOHA Architects, whose management spent S$109,070 retrofitting their shophouse office with ramps, stair lifts and renovated the toilets to make the workplace accessible for him, shared WOHA co-founder Wong Mun Summ.
Jokingly, Mr Kuppusamy said he has since become the “poster boy” for this concept of “universal design”, which is the cornerstone of his work and something he tries to incorporate into local projects that he has worked on, including new generation public housing projects like SkyVille@Dawson and Kampung Admiralty, the upcoming 11-storey integrated development in Woodlands.
These have lush sky terraces that double up as “outdoor living rooms” for the community to gather, flat pathways and handrails, as well as Braille and colour contrasts on signage.
Beyond building ramps, he said universal design is about designing with “people” as the priority, and making it intuitive so that everyone, be it young mothers with prams or the elderly, is able to enjoy the environment.
To that end, he trains himself in understanding other people’s disabilities and needs as well. Good design, he said, is the key to social inclusion as people with disabilities would have more chances to come and interact with society.
“Building owners don’t take the needs of disabled people seriously because they say there aren’t enough people with disabilities to matter. But people with disabilities aren’t getting out of their homes and into the shopping mall or cinema because it’s those building owners who aren’t doing enough to make their premises accessible. It’s all a vicious cycle that needs to be turned around,” he said.
In fact, part of the reason why the Singaporean, who became a wheelchair user in his early 20s, was hesitant to return home five years ago was because he felt here, he has to fight for even the most basic rights like equal access.
It is times when a van driver occupies his disability parking lot to unload his goods without apologising, a sales assistant speaking only to his girlfriend while they are out shopping, or the handicapped toilets in malls are occupied by able-bodied people who just wanted “a larger room” that Mr Kuppusamy feels disabled.
Having spent most of his life growing up in what he called “more enlightened” countries like New Zealand, the United States and Switzerland because of his father’s overseas posting, he was never given any special treatment in all the mainstream schools he attended, save for a few minutes extra to move between classes.
“I never got siloed into a special needs school. After all, I don’t have special needs. My physical disability doesn’t define who I am or what I am capable of doing,” he said, adding his decision to become an architect came about after a family friend’s suggestion and a desire to put his practical nature and love for problem-solving to good use.
Since coming back, while he noted that Singapore has made big strides in improving accessibility, he urged for more to be done to ensure a more proportionate number of accessible homes, parking, and toilets, and for solutions not to be tacked on just as an afterthought.
He said design here is still geared towards enabling caregivers to give assisted care instead of helping disabled people to lead independent lives. For example, putting enough knee-space under sinks in apartments would allow wheel-chair users to do their own dishes instead of relying on others.
But the biggest barrier to accessibility remains Singapore’s me-first attitudes and mentality, he said. People need to put aside their personal agendas to “work towards a more humane society”.
For now, the captain of the Singapore Wheelchair Rugby team and executive committee member of the Handicaps Welfare Association, is doing what he can to drive causes he is passionate about.
Counting himself as a “uniquely lucky case”, Mr Kuppusamy said that what keeps him going is the mantra of leading to serve. “I’ve made my own opportunities where I can, and I have a duty like everyone else to give a little something back. I realised very early on that if I want change, I need to be the one driving that change,” he said.
The 3rd International Conference on Universal Design (UD2016), which will take place in the historic city of York, UK, August 21 – 24 2016.
The conference will bring together both researchers and practitioners and will include presentations on theoretical and practical issues, design cases, demonstrations and posters.
SINGAPORE: Themed “Universal Design in Public Places” this year, Singapore Universal Design Week kicked off on Wednesday, with the launch of the country’s first Universal Design Guide for Public Places.
Organized by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the third Singapore Universal Design Week is filled with events on how excellent Universal Design strategies create an inclusive environment for everyone, including persons with disabilities and older people in Singapore.
BCA Chief Executive Officer John Keung said the objective is to make Universal Design a big part of life in Singapore, and everyone can live, work, learn and play in comfort, ease and in friendly surroundings.
“We recognize how public places are an important part of our living environment and simple but inclusive designs can make a huge difference in everyone’s lives. Hence, our universal design efforts will go beyond buildings and focus on public places.”
One of the highlights of Singapore Universal Design Week is the launch of Singapore’s first Universal Design Guide for Public Places, which was unveiled at the opening ceremony by Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.
The newly issued Guide, which is one of the key initiatives of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing’s Action Plan for Successful Ageing, will guide architects, engineers, building owners and developers in providing more Universal Design features in public places.
Developed in collaboration with the BCA’s tripartite partners — public agencies, the industry and voluntary welfare organizations, the Guide covers a comprehensive approach to Universal Design in and around buildings, vehicular environments, sanitary facilities and even for different types of public buildings such as community clubs and supermarkets.
Singapore Universal Design Week will last until Saturday, which attracts building professionals, developers, industry firms, public agencies and voluntary welfare organizations to take part in various events and learning opportunities, such as Universal Design Conference, Universal Design Exhibition, Universal Design Forum and Universal Design Building Tour.