Good afternoon, and welcome to the ADA Distance Learning 2000 program. Today''s session is on the Principles of Universal Design. All site coordinators should have received in advance the slide presentation, a hard copy presentation for participants of the on-line slide show is also available on the Great Lakes web site at www.adagreatlakes.org. You can also follow the links to the realtime captioning of this session on the web site as well. During today''s session one unit of AIA learning units are available for participation for members of AIA. Site coordinators should collect a list of AIA members including the member''s name, address, and AIA membership identification number. That list can be faxed by Thursday, to the Region 3 Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at (301) 217-0754. Today''s session is hosted by your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. If you have any questions or later technical assistance, please feel free to call the center at (800) 949-4232. Today''s presenter is John Salmen, hi John.
How are you doing, Jennifer?
We are happy to have you with us. John is the President of Universal Designers and Consultants, he is also the publisher of the Universal Design Newsletter. He is a licensed architect and for the last 20 years has been specializing in barrier free and universal design. For the last ten years he has been a part of the ANSI, A117.1 committee that addresses accessibility standards. He has also been the AIA representative to the federal ADAAG review committee. John has provided training to the Hotel and Motel Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, 3M Corporation and the Walt Disney Corporation. We are excited to have John with us today, especially because he has been a trainer working on the Principles of Universal Design and was part of the core group of professionals that came together to develop the Principles of Universal Design. So we are going to spend the next hour talking about the principles and the development of universal design. John I will turn it over to you.
Great, thanks a lot, Jennifer. I hope you all have the presentation there in front of you. We will be following along with that as we go through this and try and spend about the first half hour on the presentation then open it up for questions and answers for people. This distance learning program is intended to try to assist people in understanding both the meaning of universal design by showing examples. We think that the examples are the best way to learn about this thing. The presentation that you have is a portion of a larger presentation. It is available in both 35 mm slides and PowerPoint presentation through our web site at www.universaldesign.com. That is the first slide. We will move on to the next slide which is "What is universal design?" Well, universal design has been evolving and will continue to evolve in terms of its meaning. But a lot of people have thought that when you come right down to it universal design is nothing more than good design. That is, design that works for everybody. Design that considers the needs of as many people as possible. This should be the accepted rather than the exceptional approach. And as we move into the 21st century a lot of us believe that it will be. Unfortunately though at present that is not the case. The practice of design tends to expect the user to adapt to the design rather than the other way around. Now, in my practice, if you move on to the next slide, we have found a difference between accessibility and universal design. Accessible design is design that complies with the minimum regulations to provide access for and usability by people with disabilities. It is really compliance with those minimum criteria that lets people at least be able to use facilities at a minimum level. Universal design, on the other hand, is designs that work for the entire population of users throughout the expected life span of those users. It is a very broad thing and the more that we learn about the users, the more our universal designs grow and become better. We can move on to the first slide which shows the Principles of Universal Design. There are seven principles that were developed under the direction of the late Ron Mace at North Carolina State University. These seven principles were intended to be tools that would allow somebody to be able to evaluate an existing design to determine whether or not it really was universal. They are general principles and there is actually a very good example of how these are demonstrated, that is also on the NCSU web site which again you get through ours at www.universaldesign.com. The first of those principles is "equitable use." This is intended to mean designs that don''t disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users. For example an automatic door at the entrance to a building, anybody can walk right up to that thing and it will open automatically for them and does not require anybody to have any special abilities. The next slide shows the second principle which is "flexibility in use." The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Such as right hand or left hand scissors, as these scissors show in the illustration on that slide. The next principle is that the design would be "simple and intuitive." That is easy to understand. These are designs that regardless of the person''s experience, knowledge, language, skills or their current concentration level, that they are able to understand how the thing works. For example, directions as shown here on the slide as to how you would put together a chair in this case. Or if the entrance to a building is very clearly marked, so that somebody would easily understand what the entrance is. We will see a couple of examples of this in the actual examples I will be showing you in a few more minutes. The fourth principle is "perceptible information." That is that the design communicates the information that is necessary so that the user can effectively understand it regardless of the ambient conditions or the user''s sensory abilities. The Honeywell thermostat that is shown in the slide here as little click stops as well as raised tactile elements that allow somebody to be able to feel and hear whether or not they are moving the temperature gauge from one setting to another. It also has visual numbers on there which are large that help somebody with low vision to be able to use it. The next slide shows our fifth principle which is "tolerance for error." In this case the design minimizes the hazards or the adverse consequences if somebody should accidentally or unintentionally do something or if they should become fatigued. I think that the "undo" button on most Windows programs is a great example of this, that when you mess something up you can immediately go back and redo the element or undo the modification which allows us to still have errors-but not have it destroy the work that we have been doing. The sixth principle is that the design requires "low physical effort." It is easy to operate, efficiently and comfortably, with a minimum of fatigue. Clearly lever handle door hardware is a very good example of this because it generally requires very little effort to be able to operate it regardless of a person''s abilities. The final principle on the next slide is "size and space for approach and use." Allowing the designer to or requiring the designer to come up with a design for people to easily get to approach, reach, manipulate and use the design, regardless of that person''s body size, or their posture or how they get around or anything like that. The fare card readers on the new Washington, D.C. metro systems, are great examples of this one, the fare card reader and turn style that they have can be used by anybody, regardless of their abilities. You simply put your fare card in and it is wide enough to allow a person in a wheelchair or somebody pushing a stroller or somebody carrying a couple of bags if they are on their way to the airport to be able to go through the turn style on the metro itself. I think the most important thing that everyone should remember about these principles is that they are simply guidelines and they may work with some designs better than other designs. This is the first step that we have ever taken in terms of trying to define what universal design is. I think it is a good step, but one that is evolving as a whole concept of universal design evolves. If we can go to next slide, this is the cover slide for the images project-the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Building Museum, and my firm, Universal Designers and Consultants Inc. sponsored this first national search. This was a juried collection of images that show examples of universal design excellence in the fields of architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture. It was completed in September of 1996. And it has been available since then and as I said earlier it is intended to encourage and assist universal design by providing examples that can be used in design practice and education. It features and credits the work of designers who are going beyond compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to create products and environments that are usable by people with the broadest possible range of ability throughout their life span. It also includes expanded audio description and availability in alternate formats as well. The next slide shows the first project, the Rest Seat that was designed by Brian Donnelly of Donnelly design in San Francisco. It is a prototype for an alternative to bench-type public seating. The structure has three legs, is secured to the ground the back is low, the armrests extend out from the seat. This picture shows an elderly woman using the seat and in the next slide we see a woman who is pregnant with a baby, a mother who is using it. When we combine this with other seating as shown in the final slide of this section, we see that in a park scene with two benches one lower and one higher several children, adults both seated and standing, that we allow older adults, fatigued tourists, parents carrying children, people with temporary or permanent disabilities to be able to use these facilities without any kind of stigmatizing appearance. When combined with other seating there is choice for everybody. The next slide shows the Cicena Home Phone. At the top of each slide, you can see who the designers of all these projects are. We found it was very important and if in fact if anybody uses these slides in the future we request they note who the designers were, we want to give credit to the people who did excellent work. It shows he can equitable use in that the hand site is inviting to grasp due to its organic shape thicker at the center than the end. The simple and intuitive use is demonstrated by the effect that is correct-that the designers edited the features available on contrary telephones down to the essential allege. Some noted the volume and the hold buttons are unique to this product and might be misunderstood in the context of other phones. But once somebody has started to use this it is very easy to understand and use those buttons. It has perceptible information. The number buttons are oversized, they have high contrast and they are backlit so they can be seen at night. Tucker Vmister, one of the designers commented "the best universal design is one that is transparent." The user doesn''t think of it as special. That is what we generally find. It is important in many cases to explain universal design, but most people look at it and say "that is good design." When in fact a great deal of thought went into it. The next project shows the G-O-cup, this is a real interesting product designed by Tim Johnson up in Boston. It is a prototype as shown here for a disposable cup and lid that are cut and folded from all recycled paper fiber. The cup is available in three sizes with one lid that fits all three sizes. The lid is secured to the the paper cup with three over sized grab hooks that fit into the cup rim. The lid can be removed by any of the three hooks, though not necessary because you can drink from the cup even with the cap on it. It also has a space for a straw to be inserted. It exhibits tolerance for error because the product minimizes hazards and adverse conditions of accidental or unintended action because there are highly visible oversized insulated side wall seams in an open rim bands that act as cool zones for the user''s thumb and fingers. You can see these in the striped section of the cup. The next slide shows the Talking Sign System. This is a slide of a woman with a cane at a bus stop, holding a receiver in front of her and she is able to read or be told what the information on the approaching bus is. The technical information is available via a speaker or handset. This is a system which has infrared signals which are sent out from small transmitters located on buses or on signs on buildings. And it sends out an infrared signal. The design doesn''t disadvantage or stigmatize anyone because it is very applicable not only for people with low vision or people who cannot read, but to visitors who are unfamiliar with a given area or foreign language persons. One of the great things about this system is that you can scan by swinging the receiver in an arc and find where the signal is strongest and then move directly towards that signal. So in that way you would be able to find an emergency exit, for example or the entrance to a building simply from the strength of the signal as you are listening to the sound being emitted from the transmitter. The next slide shows a series of signage systems that were developed by Roger Whitehouse for the Lighthouse in New York City. It is important to know that this signage system actually acted as the basis for the proposed ADAAG changes because Roger did a great deal of research into the design of signage and came up with a number of systems that are evident here. First of all, there are upper and lower cased visual signage which are much easier for people to read because they can recognize the footprint of the word. For instance, the word "men" is a very small word as opposed the word "women." So by glancing at it you can tell pretty quickly whether or not it is "men" or "women" even without the man symbol at the top. Also there is tactile signage. As you can see the person reading with their fingers on a projecting panel that is raised characters in a type font which Roger developed called "haptick" that has thin strokes on the letters and widely spaced letters and work so it is easy to read by touch. The letter in caps and lower case aids variable readability through the recognizable shape of the familiar words rather than the ambiguous rectangular shape of words that are in all caps. The next slide shows room 685 where Elizabeth Friedman is. You notice in this case they even used an italic signage for the visual to help differentiate common rooms from private rooms. But then they have again the signage information in tactile form on the yellow strip. Features of the Whitehouse''s haptic type script include a distinct cross-section, large open counter spaces and the exaggeration of unique letter form characteristics, such as a slash through the 0 to differentiate it from the letter 0 and an open top numeral 4 to differentiate it from a capital A. Notice the three bumps from the lower edge of the mounting bracket, these are infrared diodes for emitting a talking sign signal. So this thing that is visual, tactile and talking sign systems all incorporated into it. A really marvelous universal design. In the final slide of the section you can see the talking sign working from the infrared diodes that are emitting the talking sign signal. Also-some of you from California especially and other places in the country that are familiar with this, notice they use the California notation convention of circles for women and triangles for men, which are starting to sweep the country because they are very easy way for many people to recognize the difference between men and women in restroom signage. Our next slide shows the Leviton Corporation Decora line of light switches. These have long been a favorite choice for universal usability since the late 1960s. The large rocker panel is especially easy to locate, activate with very low force and minimal dexterity. The next slide we see somebody actually operating that slight switch with their elbow as they are carrying a pile of books. This demonstrates equitable use that everyone can use this regardless of hand dexterity, without any sense of stigma from an institutional product. The next slide is one of the designs that Ron Mace submitted. This is a vision panel which allows the interior occupants of a building to be able to see who is coming to the door. The full length entrance sidelight, this is a common architectural detail, but doesn''t disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users since it can be of advantage to children as well as older adults and integrated into almost any entrance design adding little or no cost to the entrance. In this image we see a woman and child looking out the side light to view an arriving visit tore. The next slide is a project from the Center for Universal Design, this is an interior design detail that was developed in 1993 for builder J Beeman of Raliegh, North Carolina. The objective is to provide knee space under kitchen counters for seated persons without needlessly sacrificing storage space through a permanent design. It was accomplished by providing self storing doors which slide into the cabinet as shown in the first slide or the next slid-oors that can be quickly removed and replaced using spring loaded cabinet latches. Our next slide is one of my favorites because this is sort of low tech end of the universal design solutions. In Rogue River National Forest in Grant Pass, Oregon, the National Forest Service developed this type of an earth-berm tent pad. The key to this universally designed tent site is an 18 inch vertical change in level formed by a low retaining wall constructed of logs and earthwork that also serves as a bench. Tents can be placed on the upper level and then campers who use wheelchairs can get in and out of the tents which was previously very difficult to get down off of their chairs to the ground level. They can do this by parking the wheelchair on the lower level and transferring to the bench on the higher ground level and crawling into the tent itself. The next slide shows somebody using it simply as a bench as they are going along the trail. This design is a particular advantage for anyone that may have difficulty getting up, getting down or getting back up from the ground. It is also a comfortable place to sit for anybody, exemplifying equitable use. Its rustic setting shows universal design can be included in any design style, it need not be slick, commercial or industrial. Our next project is Flood Park. This was done by a really excellent design firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Berkeley. Flood Park is an excellent example of a children and family play facility that has been purposefully designed to accommodate both disabled and non-disabled people. It is designed for people with different abilities to be in the same activities and spaces at the same time. It does this without stigmatizing labels, unnecessary rhetoric or attention-getting fan fare. It shows the bell tower a rectangular structure about two stories high. It is open underneath so people can walk through. It has a wind chime in it that gives an audible indication of entrance of the park. It is a great example of intuitive use where the chime itself activated by the breezes in the area lets people know where the entrance is as well as the two story facility. The next slide shows a close-up of this bell tower which not only meets accessibility standards for parking and drop off zones but the bell tower contributes to its universal usability. The next slide shows tactile maps that provide both color coded orientation information that is understandable by anyone, again another universally designed feature that is there at the entrance to the park. Our next slide shows children playing on one of the park features. Recognizing the universal attraction to water play, the MIG designers installed a water play complex consisting of a hand pump and spout that most visitors can reach and operate. A water out fall and channel pouring into an upper pond separated from a lower pond by a combination of bridge, dam, flusgate and ford. When the flusgate is open, water flows under the bridge. When closed, it acts as a dam, causing water to collect in the upper pond and eventually flow over the damn forming a ford that pours into the lower pond. The ponds are wading areas and the fords, dams and bridge provide an opportunity for one to get their feet or wheels wet. As you can see here everyone can play together. In fact, the one of the neatest things I have seen in the MIG designs is they require children to play together. So you have to have someone pumping the water while someone else is holding the dam so other kids can splash through the bridge. Then somebody else has to release the dam for the water to go out. So it is really a two-way system. They have incorporated this type of design in many of their parks which are equally excellent. In our next slide, we see the transfer walls that are low walls at seat height but placed so they can act as retaining walls with sand or grass surfaces flush with the top or the seat surface. These are located throughout the park and are intended to allow wheelchair users to transfer from the chairs and join their peers in the grass or sand surfaces. They serve also for others who cannot stoop or get down on the ground and get back up again. You notice dark recesses in the concrete walls where wheelchair users can sit and have sand surface within easy reach at table level. Our next slide shows a design for Mr. and Mrs. John Ambrose in Raleigh, North Carolina this was concluded in 1988 by Ron Mace of Barrier Free Environments at that time. He created a universal approach to their single family home in place of the existing steps. This is the before picture we see and the second slide shows the after design. The earth-berm bridge entrance design consists of a stepped or sloping retaining wall starting about eight to 12 feet from the entrance and rising up to the height of the entrance floor level. A level bridge often in combination with a deck or porch is fabricated of wood or other durable material to span the distance between the retaining wall and the building entrance. The moat maintains drainage away from the building and can be filled with plants, ground cover, or grass. So we keep the earthwork away from the building and you don''t have to modify any of the foundation plantings or basement windows in this case. The next slide shows the landscape is then graded at a slope of 1 to 20 or less up to the retaining wall so it is a walkway rather than a ramp and a hard surface is laid over the earth with a flat landing area at the top. This bridge that crosses the moat may have handrails, benches or a planter for edge protection. And the final slide here shows the design provides a level entrance for all users and a pleasant place to meet and greet visitors. Though the design is a little more expensive than the ramp alternative, realtors have remarked unlike ramps it adds value to the home like curb appeal. A beautiful solution. The next set of slides I wanted to talk a little bit about what has come to me as another approach to how we can address universal design. It talks about the spectrum of alternatives that we have at the end of the 20th century, beginning of the 21st. The human hand, I think, is a good analogy for human methods for trying to find ways that we can make our environment useful by everybody. By mixing and matching the methods that are exemplified by the fingers on the hands we can find things that are are appropriate to the situations and come up with solutions that are universal, cost effective and beautiful. The first slide you will see there are five primary alternatives that span the range from architecture to service. The first shown with the red lettering on the small finger, is at the physical construction end of the spectrum. And this is design processes. That encompass architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and engineering. These are permanent modifications to the environment we can make to the environment work better for people. Wider doors, ramps, etc. The next slide we talk about the other end of the spectrum which is in the pure service sector. Here the action once it is over is gone as opposed to the construction and architecture on the other end. This end is basically people helping people. Something that somebody either cannot do or chooses not to do can be provided by a service. Service is one way we can make things be more usable in our environment. The next slide shows something that is related to personal assistance on the service side but different. This is where we change the process of how we do things. It may be accomplished by teaching an individual how to do things differently such as showing a stroke survivor how to button a shirt with one hand or by changing an administrative procedure similar to what is done under reasonable accommodation under Title I for the ADA. These procedural changes are typically known as rehabilitation training or operational changes. These are ways we sort of institutionalize a change to the way people are expected to do things. In the next slide we jump back to the physical side and here we talk about things that are a little softer than hard architecture in terms of equipment. Physical solutions that are in the form of products or equipment that can be used by individuals. Equipment is increasingly filling an important niche in the spectrum as our built environment becomes more modular, we often augment the facilities we have with equipment to make things works better for everyone. Assistive listening devices, automatic doors can fall into these categories, increasingly we find consumer products, computers, solutions that can be very cost effective. These would then be utilized on an as-needed basis by the individuals. The last of our alternatives has only become available in the last generation when we have had the ability to bridge the physical and the functional or the operational in the form of medical interventions where we change the individual, similar to the concept of mediating measures in the recent ADA Supreme Court decision. These are solutions such as medications or surgical procedures that provide the individual with new or restored abilities. Eyeglasses are in this range. In the next slide we see all of them, the full spectrum of facilities from the physical to the service side. What I believe is that by thinking radically about how to address problems and by mixing and matching our solutions, we can come up with designs that are beautiful, cost effective, and meet the needs of most people as we move into this new millennium. In the last slide you see the quote "we are all students of universal design." I believe this strongly. I believe the key is we can all learn from each other. Universal design, I think, is and should be a horizon concept, something out there beyond our reach that we are always striving to try to get to. The more we learn about people who we are trying to serve, the better our designs become. I think that it is better to talk really about universal designing, because it is a process rather than universal design. As soon as you have created a design we can all learn from it and hopefully improve in the future. The examples that we have seen here that are now about four, five years old, I think I can improve on some of these. I''m sure many of you can as well. I think the key is finding ways we can learn about each other as our society changes. This final slide that I have here talks a little bit about where you can find the examples of universal design on the web. And also I wanted to point out that the Center for Universal Design, the NEC Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts have sponsored a second search for universal design examples that will be presented at the Designing for the 21st Century Conference in Providence, Rhode Island June 14 to 18. I strongly recommend anyone who can attends this do so, this is the second conference in this series, an excellent forum for people to see what is happening in universal design. Now I will turn it back over to you Jennifer.
Thanks John. We should point out to people that we are taking questions on-line in the chat room so you can also submit your question there.
Could you tell us how we could incorporate some of these universal designs in our projects? What we need to do? We typically hire architects and engineers to do design work for us.
Dave I''m not sure if you are the designer or a client for the designer. But the Principles of Universal Design when used as a guideline for the designers are a checklist, are intended to be a checklist that people can use to try to determine whether or not their designs are universal. So I would suggest that they get a copy of those principles. And use those within the design methodology to check a design and see if it answers all those questions.
John, could you clarify, too, a design could use more than one of the principles or just one of the principles? Is that true?
Sure. We have seen that most...it is again a question of how good the universal design is. The more universal the more of the principles that it may encompass. But some designs may really only be applicable to a single principle. Some software and see the interesting thing about these principles they apply across the entire gamut of design types from architecture to product design, graphic design, etc. That is one of the problems we found in applying them in that the principles because they are intended for the entire range of design disciplines may be appropriate for some design types more than others. I have found them to be especially useful when talking about product design but a little bit less coherent sometimes when you talk about urban planning projects or some architecture projects. So you need to look at these with a grain of salt. But at the same time they are a good starting point for people to at least evaluate their designs as to whether or not they approach some of the universal design concepts.
Could you explain slide 31? I really don''t get it, how the water flows in certain areas.
Oh, okay. At Flood Park. What happens is there is sort of a pump that the kids have to pump and squirt this water out of a pump and then falls down into a waterway. The waterway continues down slope, downstream, through rocks and things like that so you can get a real running stream. It crosses the little bridge area and on the downhill side of the bridge they have put a dam in that is screwed down with a wheel. So some kids will be pumping the water and others will be holding the water back creating a fjord behind it then at the right time once you have enough water there, the kids will release the dam and suddenly the water will come flowing through and everyone can play in the water crossing the bridge or play in the water in the rest of the stream. The bridge portion is an accessible route. The other portions of the stream bed are pretty rough and they are fun for kids who can easily ambulate on an uneven surface to be able to use. But they aren''t so rough they are dangerous so kids can crawl and play in the water safely. But by doing this combined effort between the pumper and the dammer, you can create a little pond that people can splash around and have a good time in.
John, is that true, too in the picture where the bridge is the accessible route water can couple on that, too, right? So the wheelchair user can also get that water experience?
Exactly. That is exactly the idea here. So it is intended to be something that would allow everybody to be able to play in the water on a hot day. The folks at MIG have done excellent things. There is another project up in Oregon up by Portland where they have sort of a dinosaur park and in this case they have created a ferry where one kid can ferry kids across another stream bed kind of thing and they have created an accessible ferry that a kid in a wheelchair could get on to and other kids will bring them back and forth. A big part of the MIG process has been getting families and people who are part of the community to be involved in determining how these projects are to be designed. And then also to try to encourage cooperation and play between all kids. Many people have pointed to the fact that segregated play areas are where we start to establish our stereotypes about people with disabilities. So if kids with disabilities are playing with other kids, it immediately starts to breakdown that and mainstreams disability into our set society at a very early age.
I am a blind person and there is one slide that you had that I don''t know if I can actual fully describe so you know what I mean, but it is a slide with that has signage and it had I think raised lettering and it did not show any Braille. I''m concerned about that because there are some blind people that have never seen lettering, you know, print alphabetic lettering. So their, you know,-they are used to the Braille alphabet.
Sure. All that signage does have Braille on it. It has Braille and raised characters. The neat thing about the Lighthouse signage is by separating the visual and and the tactile portions, they did not have the tactile portion be visual at all. It blends visually into the plaques in the background that it is shown on. In fact this is hard to show in slides because there is no contrast, it is the same color. But when you touch it, you can feel it very clearly. What they wanted to have was a very clear visual sign that was all visual and a very clear tactile sign that was all tactile. And with a tactile sign they have both the raised characters I spoke of and also Braille equivalents included in all that signage. You are very right that you really need to have both those things, Susan.
Thanks John I will turn it over to Robin who has an on line question.
We have a question from on line users. Are the principles that you described widely accepted by architects and design professionals or are they too new and unknown by these professionals to use?
These are very new and relatively unknown. People are only now starting to recognize and I really applaud the DBTACs for having this session to be able to let more people now about it. The whole field of universal design is very new and young. And really only came about in the last ten years. When I started my firm Universal Designers and Consultants we did a search on the name to see whether or not there were any hits in on the Internet or anything like that. We found none. About a year ago we did another search and found 10,000 hits on the term universal design. So it is rapidly becoming known especially through common press, the public press, when the New York Times runs a home edition that that has universal design, boy, we get all kinds of calls. But what we have found is that people are only beginning to recognize this as a likely alternative to accessibility which is what most people are concentrating on because it is compliant with the requirements of the law. Unfortunately, a lot of people still don''t recognize the marketability and the real possibilities that universal design offers. And many people are also trying to regulate universal design. I think that is a big mistake. I think we always try and have universal design be this horizon concept that we constantly try to approach. Once we regulate it we fixed it and once somebody has reached that they know they have universal design. I don''t think that is right. I think what we want is something where people will constantly be challenged to try and do better designs that work for everybody. The principles are a very good way to try to do this. This was Ron Mace''s idea, what we want is something that will inspire designers and not be a limitation on them. Many designers look at the ADA accessibility standards and guidelines as limitations on their designs. Universal design, on the other hand, is a totally different way of looking at the stuff as a positive approach as to how we can go about making things work for as many people as possible and the more we learn, the better our universal designs become.
Thanks, John. Our next question?
This is Judith from Independence First in Milwaukee. I have a multiple question. Do you see this as something that could become required in design schools of architecture, possibly the next stage beyond ADA? Or something that will remain nebulous?
Judith I think you hit it on the head. The place where this really is most appropriate is in design schools. There has been a major project, the Adaptive Environment Center, one of the sponsors of the 21 Century Conference has been working on for problem 15 years. I have been an adviser to the Universal Design Education Program, you can find more about that at www.adaptenv.org. The universal design education project recognized a long time ago what we need to get people to do this better is not to regulate them but to inspire them. And that is exactly what these examples are intended to do, show people how it can be done really well. When we show designers what the problem is and then what some good examples of how things are done, they say "oh, yeah, I can do that" and "I can do that even better." As opposed to telling them regulations, then in that instance they suddenly say, "this is what I have to do" suddenly their minds shut down and say "okay, I have to do this in my design rather than being creative" and saying maybe "I can approach it this way or that way." I think the possibility of universal design is really only going to be realized if it goes into the schools. There is a brand new book being written right now. I have been asked to write a chapter, the Universal Design Handbook, intended to be used in schools of design to inspire people about what is useful and how to make designs work very well. I think universal design is the basis of that whole thing if we recognize it as inspiration rather than a requirement. We certainly want to require people to do that but by exemplifying exactly what meets it we defeat the purpose.
John, wouldn''t you also say that probably one of the major selling points of universal design is that it is not like accessibility, just designing for a specific population of people with disabilities, but really is the widest spectrum of users and that you can really use that argument greatest looking at how our baby boomer generation continues to age as well.
We have been very involved in hospitality design. And the whole different approach that you have to take for women travelers is a very good example. They are a special group that need certain things in terms of the security and the basic ambience of many facilities to be able to work on equal par with everyone else. I think that the universal design can encompass this. It encompasses green design because we start to think about the users down the road, the next generation, how do we create designs at this point that work for everybody, regardless of when they are. There are some points where it can get almost absurd if you take it too far out. But in terms of who the populations are that we understand, and that we know about at this time, we can always design better and better for them. I think that is what the real promise of universal design is. It includes people with disabilities, but it also includes aging people and it includes parents with children or with babies, it includes anybody who is trying to use the environment by understanding the range of users. The better we can do this. I have generally thought that the best designers are older people who have seen a lot of life, who know a lot of the experiences of life, and can understand these. The younger designers often have very little experience with aging or people who haven''t had kids don''t know what it is like to deal with a screaming toddler when you are at the mall. So I think there is a lot of opportunity for us to know more about humanity and in that way come up with human ways of designing that really become universal.
Thanks, John. We have time for a couple more questions.
How do you find someone in your area that has this knowledge?
That is a tough one. There are not a whole lot of people because this is a brand new field. What we have seen is that people who have been in the accessibility field for a while generally have caught on to this and are moving in that direction. Through the Designing for the 21st Century Conference there will be a lot of people there. There is the network of people through the Adaptive Environment Center in Boston at www.adaptenv.org. that has a list serv or people who are interested in universal design. You might want to try hooking into that. At this point there is no directory of people that know universal design. You can contact us directly if you are in an area where I know somebody we can point you in that direction.
We will also put some of the web sites up on the transcript on the ADA Great Lakes web site. There is a link to Adaptive Environments and information on both the 21st Century Conference coming up in June and also Universal Design Education Project, too. We will make sure and also include a link to the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University, too, so people have those resources also.
I had a question about slide 17, the bus stop and the talking sign. I was curious about a couple of things. First exactly how those works, the cost of those types of signs and whether any transit authorities across the country have adopted those kinds of signs.
The question was about the talking sign system shown on slide 17. And how it works and how much it costs and is anybody using it. Talking Signs is a technology that was developed by Smith-Kettlewell Research Laboratory in San Francisco. And then licensed to a group called Talking Signs Inc. has been around for eight years, I think and they are starting to have installations of Talking Signs all over the world. They are in Florence, in New York City, Washington, D.C., and many of them in San Francisco. That has been one of the real locations. They are in Korea, Japan, a lot of different places in transit systems are starting to pick up on these because of their universality they work so well. The way it works you have a small transmitter that can run on battery or AC power, it sends out an infrared signal into the environment it send out a cone of this signal that can be picked up by a small handheld receiver. Into that receiver you can plug into an earphone so you have an earbud that you hear privately or a speaker on it and it talks directly to you out loud. As you scan the environment with this receiver you pick up signals stronger or weaker as you orient more and more towards the signal comes from. The receivers cost I think about $25 to $30 and the transmitter is only about $10 a piece for these things, it is just a little chip with a power source and little infrared light emitting diodes connected on to the panel. It is inexpensive, small thing hidden, you don''t see it. It can have any kind of signal on it. In fact the signal being sent out on the infrared is digital so you can have it in multiple languages at the same time. So it is a marvelous little system that is now started to sweep a lot of places. You see it especially in California in BART in the San Francisco area and the new main library and many of the stops along the BART system they are especially frequented by people with visual impairments. So Talking Signs in Baton Rouge Louisiana is where you get information.
One more question, I will throw it to you if you have brief closing comment for us as well
I thought you said that was the last
I have one more question. You know my questions never end. The next universal design contest, if people are interested that is going to be introduced at the 21st Century Conference is that right?
I don''t know that. I know they are going to present the second winners because last year there was a call for entry and the competition ran during the summer of last year and they have been working on finalizing the presentations. So the actual winners will be presented at the conference.
Thanks for clarifying that. If people were interested if they were not able to attend the 21st Century Conference and interested in seeing the winning entries, is there a contact organization?
The Center for Universal in Raleigh, North Carolina will have information. They are the group coordinating and putting that whole presentation together. The first set which we have, at the Universal Designers and Consultants is available on CD-ROM or with a PowerPoint, with this PowerPoint presentation or individual 35 mmm slides.
Great. Do you have a closing comment?
I would just want to reiterate we are all students of universal design. I think the more we learn about each other the better our designs become. Nobody knows it all. We can all learn from each other. So I welcome your designs and learning from you about this and thank you all for attending.
Thanks for joining us today, John, it was very insightful. We hope to have you back again
We thank you all for joining us today and hope to have you back on June 20 for our next session on Post-Secondary Education, the ADA and 504 as Dr. Laura Rothstein joins us. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. We hope that you will be with us again.