This week, Jess delves into ‘The Accessible Dream’ and the realities or disappointments of that dream here in the UK….
I am reading a very interesting article entitled ‘What would a truly disabled-accessible city look like?’ (14 Feb 2018, Guardian). Immediately, this grabs my interest. Always keen to read about ideas to help make a city be more user friendly for everyone. Love reading about inclusive environments that offer solutions which enable marginalised groups ( suffering with diverse impairments from sensory to physical to those on the autistic spectrum to those with a learning disability and those who suffer with an invisible disability) to be more independent ,to have more choice, ultimately to be considered, to be part of the conversation.
I must confess that I was slightly disappointed that the buildings and apps referred to in this article were all from disparate cities around the world and not just from one.
The first great app-discussed in the article, has been designed by The University of Washington. It is a map based app, allowing the planning of an accessible route. It can advise you on the presence of ramps or drop curbs and is able to warn a person on the steepness of a slope. The kind of detail that would be great for a person with limited mobility.
Next we go to Singapore. A 14 story office block has been created (2014) following Universal Design principles-which has encouraged accessibility in new developments since 2007. They boast many helpful gadgets such as lifts that stay open longer, wider gateways, clearer communication, and tactile guidance.
The next example comes from Arizona State University. This is a cluster of four bed homes built specifically for young adults with autism. As people suffering with autism may be overwhelmed/hyper sensitive to sound, lighting, movement and often become overwhelmed in noisy, cluttered, environments or crowded spaces. They have been thoughtfully designed to reduce the effects of stress from noise, the fittings and décor are in neutral tones.
We then travel to Denmark next for a look at the Musholm sports holiday and conference centre. Most impressively I notice that of the 24 Hotel rooms all have a ceiling hoist! The foundation director proudly states, “We wanted to create a place where there is space for difference.”
The article ends by looking at a great pilot scheme in Melbourne Australia, which creates a navigation system for the visually impaired using Bluetooth and a free GPS smartphone app which guides the user around a public space with audio cues. This offers a brilliant sense of independence and freedom.
These small pockets of accessible design all have merit, however I am left wondering if there are any more mainstream projects that could be taken on here?
It always good to know that on our tour of the world we do have one place in England which has been noted for it for its excellent access. This place was given the European commission’s Access City award. This city is Chester.One impressive fact I’ve found in the article was that the city has already got six changing places toilets! Despite it’s nearly 2 mile circuit of Roman/medieval/Saxon wall it manages, with ramps and lifts, to keep it accessible to all.
As interesting as it is to look at different buildings and gadgets around the world. I have come to the conclusion, that building On a larger scale of accessible homes is needed for us to move forward. We need to consider building far more accessible housing. Yes, this article highlights the need amongst all disabled people to feel included, to feel important and to feel considered. How about more mainstream projects?
The goal as I see it,and as Branch Properties sees it, is for accessible housing to become the norm. The more standard it becomes to build a new property with features that help us all – wider doorways, lift joists, level access etc. The more choice available for someone like me.
I hope I haven’t talked Sallie out of a job! (In fact, I know she is working hard to make accessibility at the forefronts of people’s minds and independence for all!)
What are you thoughts? Please put your comments here, or contact Jess on firstname.lastname@example.org