The non-profit organization 8-80 Cities based in Toronto focuses their efforts on providing solutions for cities to make it accessible to people of all ages. They determine whether a specific space would be usable by an 8 year old as well as by an 80 year old. If a space is deemed to be inaccessible, then they provide solutions to improve it.
The “complete streets” movement has taken the United States by storm, and has even taken root in countries such as Canada and Australia. Few movements have done so much to influence needed policy change in the transportation world. As of today, almost 300 jurisdictions around the U.S. have adopted complete streets policies or have committed to do so. This is an amazing accomplishment that sets the stage for communities to reframe their future around people instead of cars.
From the July 2011 Universal Design Newsletter
By: Elaine Ostroff, Hon. AIA, founding director of the Institute for Human Centered Design
Late in 2010, the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee and the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU), met to launch a “National Programme to raise awareness of the Russian Federation citizens on the Paralympic Games and Paralympic values 2011 – 2014: Issues and Challenges.” Participants included Olympic and Paralympic officials and Paralympic athletes who met to identify challenges and strategies to creating accessibility in Olympic venues, athletes villages, visitors centers and transportation systems serving the games.
Since then, the Sochi without Barriers group participated in multi-city celebrations on the occasion of 1,000 days to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic games. During the festivities, it was announced that Sochi is to become the first city in Russia to be put on a newly conceived, Russian Accessibility Map. The Accessibility Map is an innovative project to provide information on locations of sports facilities with accessible features such as ramps, rails and non-slip surfaces. This information will be collected on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis and the public is being encouraged to submit information to a central collection site to be compiled for each city map.
The 1,000 days festivities were hosted by 14 Russian cities and included a series of training and awareness events aimed at volunteers. About 25,000 volunteers will be involved in staging the games including an accessible volunteering program aimed at making the four volunteer centers (in Moscow, Sochi and Novorossiysk) accessible for people with disabilities.
These tips from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects can help urban planners and policy makers understand how to design a city to be better able to support people’s independence and well-being as they age. The tips cover areas like public spaces, streets, neighborhood development, buildings and residential units.
I have a favorite saying about transportation: “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.” It sounds obvious, but when I make this point to audiences around the country, it’s a real eye-opener. They love it.