A newly opened park in Watertown, Massachusetts, wants to make sure everyone, from the elderly to the visually impaired, can experience nature on their own terms.
University of Nevada, Reno’s Pennington Student Achievement Center, have been built with universal design in mind. The classrooms have been set up in a way that allows everyone to see what the instructor is teaching by using multiple projectors, and anyone can sit at a table of their choosing.
The playground’s “universal design” concept calls for play equipment and layouts to not just be accessible, but to encourage interaction between children of different mental and physical abilities.
Universal design has been a topic of much discussion in recent times. In fact, the Association of Consultants in Access Australia dedicated their recent national conference to the theme “Universal Design: A Better Way.”
The term is largely attributed to the late Ronald L. Mace, former program director of The Centre for Universal Design and is said to have been coined as early as the 1980s. Even so, at least locally in Australia, there seems to be an increasing focus on UD with several organisations attributing increasing value in it, at least principally. This has also seen substantial variation in the way these organisations interpret UD and of course ultimately the decisions they make with a view to its application.
The IDeA Center is dedicated to making environments and products more usable, safer and healthier in response to the needs of an increasingly diverse population. The IDeA Center’s activities are based on the philosophy of Inclusive Design, often called “Universal Design” or “Design for All.”
Speakers Susanne Tauke, owner and president of New American Homes, a custom builder and developer in the Chicago area, and Beth Tauke, associate dean in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo-SUNY, pointed to four specific needs in bathrooms: