Access 101 offers a range of training and workshops in the area of accessibility and universal design. Topics include virtual environments, physical environments, document accessibility, accessible media and websites, fashion and apparel, the needs of younger and older people, and communication access.
Aging is a fact of life, yet we design houses, environments and products without thinking of the full spectrum of users. It is widely known that as we age, we acquire disabilities. Almost 20% of the population has a disability, but prevalence increases with age (i.e. 40% for 65-69 years of age). We need to design for older people in mind, and allow them to age in their homes.
Building accessibility requirements for buildings are outlined in the National Construction Code (adopted into State/Territory legislation) and the Access to Premises Standards under the Disability Discrimination Act. There are many technical requirements, but there are also best-practice concepts drawn from other industry and overseas guides.
There are legal requirements to make schools accessible for students and caregivers. An inclusive approach to enrolments, participation, play spaces and education will not only benefit the children with disabilities but also enrich the life’s of other children. Access and inclusion begin at a young age and good design will remove many unnecessary barriers.
Communication Access is important for many people with communication difficulties. Whether they are hearing or vison impaired, non-verbal, speak English as a second language or have cognitive issues, developing communication strategies will ensure equal access to goods and services. It can also be great for business to do the right thing and promote inclusion.
Documents that are accessible ensure everyone can read your written content and understand any images you use, particularly important for those people with a vision impairment. Every business needs a basic understanding of this area so they can implement small changes to improve accessibility of corporate reports and public information.
In a 2016 TEDx talk on adaptive clothing, Stephanie Thomas, the creator of a fashion lifestyle blog about dressing with disabilities stated, “We have more clothing in stores for dogs than we do for people with disabilities”. Access to fashionable clothing is another form of exclusion and there are limited options for modern clothing with accessible/adaptable features.
All media needs to be accessible for everyone’s enjoyment. This includes how people with disabilities, particularly those with a vision or hearing impairment can access printed material, video content, movies and other internet content. It covers the use of alternate print formats, captions, sign language and audio descriptions.
The NDIS will provide funding for support and services to about 460,000 people who have permanent and significant disability. Almost $6bn of this will be in housing investment, with $700 million each year in housing support. The NDIS will help to get younger people with significant disability out of aged care and into dignified social housing options, including SDA.
Public spaces need to be safe and accessible for everyone. While the National Construction Code and Access to Premises Standards cover public buildings, there is little guidance available on public space accessibility. One, therefore, must use available guidance from Australian technical and overseas references to help design accessible public spaces.
There are many new and emerging technologies to assist people with disabilities. From robotic arms, bionic prosthetics, to handheld document scanners, Google glasses, voice recognition software, and mobile phone apps, it is an ever-advancing area with new developments every year. Technology will play an ever important part in accessibility.
The tourism industry is slowing realising that there is a lot of opportunity in providing accessible tourism options. There is now a growing awareness of the needs of people with disabilities and the options in accessible accommodation, events and venues are ever increasing. Come along and hear how accessible tourism is a win/win for everyone.
Technology is rapidly changing and we can now do virtual tours of many different physical environments. This allows people to plan their trips and check out the car parking, entrances and where they need to visit before they even leave their home. Hear how 360-degree videos and virtual reality is changing the wayfinding experience.
Websites need to be accessible for everyone to use. The content needs to be keyboard-friendly for navigation, with a suitable heading structure and Alt+Text descriptions of all images. Colours need to appropriate with good contrasts, videos need captions and avoid automatic playing of media. There are simple steps to improve accessibility.