On Mismatch, a digital magazine for designers, founder Kat Holmes calls inclusive design “a skill that is developed with practice, over time.” Holmes continues, “In my education as an engineer, designer, and citizen I never formally learned about inclusion or exclusion. Accessibility, sociology, and civil rights weren’t required curricula for learning how to build technology.” For designers, she writes, “three fears of inclusion will likely strike you at some point. If so, you’re not alone. But from each of them grows an insight into the nature of inclusion.”
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) emerged about ten years ago as a barrier-free approach to teaching and learning. Educators who have included it in their practice have shared that it has revolutionized their teaching practice. Here are some ways to introduce UDL into a classroom, from Text Help (www.texthelp.com).
“Good design is inclusive design. Design should always be judged by whether or not it achieves an inclusive environment. Design which does not do this is not good enough. Good design should reflect the diversity of people who use it and not impose barriers of any kind.” This article on Lumesse Learning.com (lumesselearning.com) explains the origins of good design, and the difference between accessibility and inclusive design.
“Part of our obligation as architects is to help drive social change,” says Toronto architect and accessibility champion Susan Ruptash. Her impassioned call for better design is detailed in this opinion piece in Canadian Architect magazine (http://www.canadianarchitect.com). Ms. Ruptash offers the following insight in her article.
As a member of the European Union, Malta’s National Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has created a comprehensive set of guidelines for designing public spaces. A set of “Access for All Design Guidelines” are a requirement for all EU member countries. This is a technical guide, primarily designed to be followed by architects and engineers, and would be useful to any organization considering a renovation.
In this article, the accessibility editor for Smashing Magazine discusses inclusive web design. Heydon Pickering calls himself a front-end developer, user experience designer and accessibility engineer. Although his article is complex, his message is simple. “Inclusive design means designing things for people who aren’t you.” Heydon Pickering’s Inclusive Design Tips:
To design for accessibility means to be inclusive to the needs of your users. This includes your target users, users outside of your target demographic, users with disabilities, and even users from different cultures and countries. Understanding those needs is the key to crafting better and more accessible experiences for them.
A Toronto builder has caught onto the idea of intentionally designing condos that are easily modified to accommodate people with disabilities. Most builders don't currently offer accessibility as a standard option, and adding such features or retrofitting an existing unit can run to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Glamour, the American fashion magazine, recently published a first-person piece by a writer with on the topic of fashion for people with disabilities. Writer Keah Brown, who is a person who has cerebral palsy, says every day actions like buttoning pants is frustrating and time-consuming. Now, she says, people with disabilities are starting to ease onto the radar of a tiny slice of the fashion industry.
Finding your way around your own city or even a new one has become a lot easier in the digital age. Apps like Google Maps means you can have a planet’s worth of road maps at your fingertips inside your smartphone.Now, Google is making its Maps feature even more useful for people who have mobility challenges, especially when it comes to public transit options. The digital giant is harnessing the help of 30 million Local Guides across the globe who will exchange their knowledge, tips and photos about neighbourhood establishments and transit facilities.
Brock University located in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada took advantage of the recent summer break to improve accessibility by reconstructing walkways to make pedestrian routes barrier-free. The new sidewalks now have embedded textured plates which serve as an alert for people with visual impairments approaching a street crossing. This is one example of the many ways Canadian universities are creating more accessible campuses. B
One of the most popular summer pastimes in Canada is a trip to the beach, either by a lake or on the ocean. But for people with mobility issues, especially those who use wheelchairs, walkers or strollers, these sandy and often rocky areas can present themselves as an unappealing hazard, rather than an inviting place to saunter along the shore.
Universal Design Instruction (UDI) is a scientifically based concept that emphasizes inclusive practices to maximize student success, including those with ranges in ability, disability, age, learning style, language, race and ethnicity. For post-secondary institutions, this not only means ensuring campuses meet certain criteria in accessibility, but also rearranging classroom seating so clear sightlines are available to all students. Additionally, institutions should provide materials in electronic formats as well as captioning and transcribing for video presentations.
There has been much talk and articles written about Universal Design for Learning in recent years. But, how does a teacher actually prepare their physical classroom and their students for the experience? A fourth-grade teacher, Beth, logs her prepping process in a to-do list which can be used as a blueprint for anyone looking to implement the philosophy in their school.