Can you imagine the structures of a world without barriers? In truth, the prospect has been contemplated, due in large part to the disabled community. The notion comes off as so rewarding to society that a website has been devoted specifically to the cause. And it is here that we can find a well-articulated definition of exactly what Universal Design is:
“Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use” (Source).
How do you like that? Universal Design considers more than just producing structures that are accessible for the disabled community; not that this isn’t worthy in and of itself. It sounds as though Universal Design is a philosophy that the creative minds and engineers of the world should embrace. It is a way of thinking that is inclusive, a way of bringing humanity together. Consider a great, visually presented example:
The effect here is stunning. A simple comparative analysis tells us precisely what the captions convey, that when thinking with the diversity of society in mind, the outcome eliminates the potential for polarization and instead, incites unification along with — satisfyingly enough — aesthetic principle. The second picture presents us with an ideal world that not only serves scope of utility, but brings out the beauty to be found in architectural creativity. Here we have the idea embodied in a more modern form:
Coined by Ronald L. Mace of North Carolina State University, Universal Design has come to be further studied through collaboration with architects, product designers, engineers and environmental designers, culminating in seven basic principles:
1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue.
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility. (Source)
To think of Universal Design applying primarily to architecture is understandable, but we can find elements of the philosophy in one of our most used products of daily life, the standard door knob:
In the next case, we have the features of a bathroom accommodating the products we use, as well as accommodating the need for safety — the items in view have been sleekly modified so that they can be used as grab bars:
One thing you can count on is that Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) supports the philosophy of Universal Design in its entirety. To celebrate and empower the cause, DSLC conducts a technology exposition on a yearly basis, right here in Santa Rosa, California. Here you can learn about the products and services which embrace Universal Design as they are united in a day of presentation and exploration. We hope you’ll take a moment to come and see the wonderful displays and the people who accompany them, which is really a fancy way of saying:
Join us for Tech Expo 2015!
Exactly what is a modified vehicle?
A modified vehicle is any mode of transportation that has been uniquely engineered to aid persons with disabilities, so they can gain independence in the world of which they live. Generally speaking, modifications are often found in vans for accessibility:
Bicycles can be modified too:
But who says modifying a vehicle has to be about accessibility alone? Can’t we have a little fun? Here we have access to NASCAR!
DSLC’s Tech Expo 2015 will be displaying modified vehicles for you…
…and did you know that our friends at Accessible Mobility Center will be there to help you make decisions about products?
Join us for Tech Expo 2015 for modified vehicles and much more!
And THANK YOU to everyone who has been visiting, liking, and following our blog!
The Assistive Technology Industry Association‘s webpage sums up the meaning of assistive technology with great clarity, telling us that assistive technology (often abbreviated as AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
AT can be low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
AT can be high tech such as special purpose computers.
AT can be hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning devices.
AT can be computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
AT can be computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
AT can be specialized curricular software.
AT can be much more, including electronic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers.
If there’s any one thing the Tech Expo 2015 will focus on, you can rest assured, it will be Assistive Technology.
You’ve been cruising with your motorized wheelchair, but did you know who first invented them?
According to Wikipedia, around the year 1953 the “electric-powered wheelchair was invented by George Klein who worked for the National Research Council of Canada, to assist injured veterans after World War II” (source).
And thanks to Wikipedia, we have a picture to honor the event:
Matters have certainly come a long way since then. Here we have the Ibot on display with former President Bill Clinton:
Isn’t technology amazing? But did you know that the Tech Expo has had an Ibot on display as well?
And as for the motorized chair, DSLC’s Tech Expo 2015 intends to have them available for showcasing, just as they’ve done in the past:
Tech Expo 2015 will be the biggest and best yet, and we hope to see you there!
The year is 2006 and Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) in Santa Rosa decides to conduct its first technology exposition for the disabled. With the idea of reaching out to the community with technologies and services, the effort proved to be a huge success, and the tradition of the Tech Expo is born.
Here one of our exhibitors presents a small host of phone technologies.
We had some buses show up to showcase how they assist their patrons with lifts when necessary.
DSLC’s first Tech Expo also saw the presentation of an I-Bot…
…and quite the assortment of modified vehicles.
Ten years have past and the tradition of the Tech Expo is rolling stronger than ever. Stay tuned for more information and photographs, and if you or someone you know would like to participate in this year’s event, feel free to contact us via the information in our flyer: