Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Complete and total integration

Is it possible? We've heard a lot about accessibility, universal access, inclusion. But why does it feel so much like accommodation, making do, afterthought? Is society really striving for inclusion and universal access? Then how it is that new residential buildings can still get away with not providing access to all aspects of the building? Why is it that buildings being renovated can get away with not improving their accessibility? Why is it that new public venues provide one section and one section only (for the most part) for people with wheelchairs? Why are we only allowed one companion with us at concerts? It's all nice and good to provide access, even as an afterthought, but it's not truly inclusive. It still smells of us and them mentality. I don't know if it's possible. Universal design thinks it is. Are they realistic or optimistic?


Aaron said...

Given the current level of critical thinking ability (not technology..) a true universal design is probably a long way off. Every individual's needs are so varied from everyone else's that it will be very difficult to accomplish. Unless some great thinker can come up with a flexible system that can be applied over and over to everything.

My Life On A Blog said...

I totally agree with you! True universal design will happen when city and state governments decide to be active in enforcement of existing laws. Universal access address simple accessibility features that everyone can use. Then we can take into account individuals needs and address accessability.

Scott Rains said...

You are confusing concepts and treating Universal Design as something concrete rather than what it is -- seven design principles describing a design process.

Universal Design is a process that starts with the broadest possible set of users. If it's really Universal Design then it can't be retrofitting - it is an entire philosophy of radical inclusion inserted into the very first step of the design (which comes before the building) process:

The Principles of Universal Design are:

1. Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.

2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

3. Simple, Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

7. Size and Space for Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.

More at

Anonymous said...

soooo tired of all the excuses. if it were any other group, people would be up in arms. "okay, all you gay people can sit over there." "you fat people have to sit in these chairs and can only have 1 other person with you." "you black people have to use the back door." i understand about logistics, but come on, people. my kid deserves to enter through the FRONT door! my new chant: NO MORE BACK DOOR!!! everyone! NO MORE BACK DOOR! NO MORE BACK DOOR! NO MORE BACK DOOR!