November 2005 Archives

Add Lisbon to Your "Must See" List!

Access Lisbon Logo

Lisbon, Portugal has risen to the fore on the news front of Inclusive Destination Development. Dave Player of Wheeling Around the Algarve would like Rolling Rains Readers to know about the new services available through Accessible Lisbon his neighbor to the north.

Wheelchair Rappel Record


The American Adventure Service Corps (TAASC) reported the longest rapel by someone in a wheelchair as 900 feet in 2003. Do any Rolling Rains readers know if that record has been broken yet?

Tactile interpretive nature display in Chile

Chile's Lago Pe�uelas National Park now has a thoughtfully designed trail and interpretive system that users are acclaiming.

The wheelchair accessible trail has nine bridges, two pergolas, numerous rest spots, and signage in Braille. Similar to the approach taken by Coco Raynes in various Columbian museums the site provides replicas and bass relief representations of the local fauna for those with visual impairments.

Disabled Surfers of Australia

DSA logo.gif

Another reason to head downunder -- as if anybody needed one -- is Disabled Surfers Association of Australia!.

DSA group photo

East Meets West Around Universal Design

"Usability" is the term common among designers of digital information and information interfaces who are interested in Universal Design. Universal Design arises from disability culture in which human variability is definitive and, increasingly, a source of pride and inspiration. Disability culture and its products such as Universal Design interact with values and artifacts produced by other cultures where non-disability is the dominant cultural norm and the rewarded bodily status.

It is instructive to observe to emergence of conversations such as the one at UI Garden where a threefold self-aware conversation takes place between UD, Eastern and Western cultures.

Marc Mendelsohn @ Universal Design Specialists

Marc Mendelsohn

Some understand the idea of Universal Design - its seven principles and its historical grounding in the civil rights movement. Some understand the growing market demand and have positioned themselves well to provide timely solutions. Still others have the skill and artist's sensibility to distinguish their work with a sense of style. Less have the ability to combine all these. Fewer still have the commitment and passion to shepherd the very idea of Universal Design into new realms.

I am always impressed by those who get the "big picture" about Universal Design. Ideas, like products, have a "life cycle." It takes the right person to launch an idea on a new cycle. I have been privileged to meet several - not surprising since I regularly travel around the world to seek them out! From my short observation it appears that Marc Mendelsohn is one of those people - and he is in my own back yard.

Darren Hillock located a travelogue on wheelchair travel in South America that was recently published in the Austin Statesman. I especially appreciate how one of the travelers, Pat Broderick, understands herself to be an ambassador for other travelers with disabilities who come after her. We are still enough of a novelty in many places that our individual actions make a big difference. Read about Pat Broderick and Julia Malone at:

You can read another version of the story here:

Darren always has something interesting going over at Get Around Guide -- the blog.

A Quote Found on the Gimp Parade

Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, 'normal,' and sane....If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.
-- Susan Wendell, author of The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability

Tips for Tourism Destination Developers

NAHB Event logo

Save the dates April 24 - 26, 2006 for the National Association of Home Builders event, "Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium 2006."

The Universal Trails Assessment Process

Some news items are most interesting for the ways that they "talk to each other."

Consider this article on the economic value of eco-tourism. Note that, if mismanagement of the natural heritage of the US continues unabated, exisiting Universal Design solutions such as the Universal Trails Assessment Process created by Beneifical Designs will not be implemented.

Update on Universal Design Competition

The Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), AIA NY Chapter, has announced the second biennial international ideas competition to explore issues of universal design and historic rejuvenation in developing a visual / performing arts center on Roosevelt Island. The registration deadline has been extended to December 18, 2005. Visit for further information.

Access Tips for Switzerland

Cheryl Imboden's Switzerland & Austria for Visitors offers the following advice on accessible travel in Switzerland:

Live Luggage Meets a Universal Design Need

Live Luggage

There is a change in the air. I have been scanning the Engadget blog aimlessly recently. It must be "window shopping season" - too late for back-to-school and not quite time to buy holiday gifts.

Unfortunately for my bank account, I found sometyhing that I just must have: Live Luggage!

Adelaide Airport Gets Universal Design Makeover

From The Advertiser

Access for all in the new terminal

MAKING Adelaide Airport's new passenger terminal accessible to everyone, especially the disabled, was a major challenge facing the designers. The new facilities, opened to the public over the weekend, demonstrate the world-leading Universal Design principles that should be used in all developments, according to a leading disability standards expert.

Gracias a Diego Alejandro Sadras of Argentina we have news about an accessible transport service in Argentina: Transpdisc.

They offer pick up from the International Airport of Ezeiza or the Port of Buenos Aires. They also offer excursions. They have been around since 1996 and their site is trilingual: English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Susan M. LoTempio traveled a relatively short distance as a tourist - Buffalo to New York City - although, for the price of her concert ticket, she could have flown to LA roundtrip.

She writes a "Tale of Two Concerts" - pre- and post-ADA. In the October 7, 2005 issue of the New York Times she recounts her experience as a wheelchair user attending first a Beattles then a Paul McCartney concert in Madison Square Garden. In spite of spending nearly $300 on a front section ticket, she was unable to see either the stage or the giant screens. To make things worse, she recounts:


Apparently there are a few other people paying attention to the lack of transparency, accountability, and community participation in post-Katrina rebuilding schemes.

These two Letters to the Editor appeared yesterday.

It is always a little disheartening to find out that I am no more than a lemming in my style preferences. The door operators in my home? Lever. The finish on my bathroom fixtures? Brushed nickel.

The Quad City Times tells me I am not alone:

Brushed nickel is a popular finish for new home buyers, even when it costs more...Buyers in higher-priced houses want levers instead of knobs on their doors.

The article doesn't say so but chances are good that these same high-end home buyers respond to lever door handles in hotels, spas, and resorts with the thought, "That's quality - and it feels like home!"

Universal Design is defining the hotel of the future. Once it gets out the door it will define the whole neighborhood -- Inclusive Destination Development.

IDEA Center gets $5 million grant

Award continues funding of rehabilitation research on universal design

Contributing Editor, University at Buffalo Reporter

The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) in the School of Architecture and Planning has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to fund a second five-year cycle of its Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD).

Although the IDEA Center is the grant recipient, in operating the RERC it now will collaborate with the Ontario Rehabilitation Technology Consortium (ORTC) and representatives from the design and disability communities nationwide.

Co-directors of the center are architect Edward Steinfeld, UB professor of architecture and director of the IDEA Center, who is nationally recognized as one of the early developers of the concept of universal design, and Geoff Fernie, vice president for research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, a member organization of ORTC.

UB Reporter: IDEA Center gets $5 million grant

New from Santa Cruz: Shared Adventures

Here in Northern California the network of organizations providing leisure and travel services to people with disabilities is maturing steadily.

Among the highlights are Marilyn Straka's On the Level Tours of San Francisco, Access Northern California's accessibility audits and training for the travel industry in the same city. Environmental Travel Companions expeditions, programs by Accessible Adventures, and Shared Adventures year-round slate of activities in Santa Cruz, California

Shared Adventures announces it new web site:

Accessible Taxis

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a recent story in the Seattle Times via Inclusion Daily Express:

Getting to a business meeting, the mall, a Seahawks game or even to a restaurant for a date with his wife, Emily, often means a long bus ride for Michael Rogers of Kenmore, and for many other wheelchair users in the Seattle area.

Not so in Portland, where at least two taxicab companies offer wheelchair-accessible cabs.

Mexico City's First Symposium on Universal Design

Uninversal Design Logo

Mexico City hosted its first symposium on Universal Design. Sponsors included

La Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México, a través del Departamento de Arquitectura, el Departamento de Diseño y la Coordinación de Difusión Cultural, y Libre Acceso, A. C.,

UIA - Primer Simposio Arquitectura y Accesabilidad

Metropolis magazine features a great interview with Valerie Fletcher, Director of Adaptive Environments.

See Beyond Compliance

Universal Design in Spain

Thus article (in Spanish) came to my attention about Spain's application of Universal Design:

Madrid: Impulso la transformación de las ciudades

Aging in Place Fair in Seattle

This announcement from Herladnet:

Households of all ages have roots in their communities and strong emotional ties to their homes. Few people want to move solely because their house no longer fits their needs. The problems faced by older individuals are compounded by the fact that they often live in the oldest housing stock.

If you want to stay in the home, how do your prioritize your projects? How do you judge need versus want? Many of the answers will be provided at National Aging in Place Week, today through Saturday, featuring a series of programs and seminars offered in dozens of communities across the country and coordinated by the Aging in Place Council and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Who will represent Universal Design in the HUD grant competition for rebuilding after Katrina?

The Universities Rebuilding America Partnerships (URAP)- Community Design
program provides funding to schools of architecture, urban planning and
design, or construction at accredited two- and four-year colleges and
universities to establish and operate partnerships with and for communities
affected by Hurricane Katrina or Rita (or both).

"Enticed by the appeal of keeping tax-paying senior citizens in place who don't have young children enrolled in the school system, suburban towns have been welcoming age-restricted housing with open arms," writes Bill Doak in "From the Age of Aquarius to Age-Restricted Housing." "Designed to appeal to the baby boomer generation and up - the housing is for those age 55 and older - the development is the hottest trend in new home construction, " he continues. Universal Design is incorporated into the homes.

Pattern Language & Universal Design

Some ideologues argue against accessibility because it "beaks the esthetic." The truth is, an esthetic that permits inaccessiblity is already irrecoverably broken.

Launching into study of Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language has been an engaging intellectual exercise. By no means can I claim to have mastered his thought but some initial thoughts occur to me. Resonant with Chomskian sensibilities the search for gramaticality in Alexander's work seems to substitute for the proscriptive esthetics of more precious constructs like New Urbanism. That is a hopeful sign.
Alexander's essay "Methods" which discusses the role of " generative sequence" and its essential feature as being "backtrack-free" strikes me as the Pattern Language argument against retrofitting ("backtracking") - and, by extension, as argument for Universal Design.

This is because Universal Design incorporates the lifespan-aware definition of disability outlined in the International Categorization of Functionality (ICF). Good design, even for those who remain in the temporary state identified and reinforced by the built environment as "able bodied," must take into account the functionalities associated with a complete lifespan -- childhood, temporary injury, tiredness, lapses of attention, the posssibility of permanent disability, and aging. To achieve the goal of livability each action undertaken must not eliminate the possibility a future one made necessary, for example, by disability:

New York: City in Motion

New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan invites presentation proposals for the Interdisciplinary Conference: New York: City in Motion. Rolling Rains readers may be interested to present their ideas on Universal Design and Inclusive Destination Development. For those wishing to be linked with other readers to discuss a collaborative presentation contact the editor, Scott Rains: srains (AT) oco (DOT) net.

This day-long conference will take place on Friday, March 10, 2006, in NYIT’s state-of-the-art conference facility near Columbus Circle. The organizers welcome and encourage technology-enhanced presentations.

What Ought a "Livable Community" Look Like?

Nancy LeaMond defined "Livable Community" and summarized exemplary projects at the June, 2005 AARP Conference entitled, "Universal Village: Livable Communities in the 21st Century." Her presention, "Public Policy Challenges to Creating Livable Communities," closed with this memorable advice:

To the Slovak Republic - Via Rio

Susanne Pacher at Travel & Transitions has reprinted an article that I did for "Slovakia" magazine. Accessibility is a project they are still working on but it a country with heart. Read To Slovakia - Via Rio - from the Seated Position.

Is Lehigh Valley Senior Friendly?

It's true. Lehigh Valley and Allentown do not show up this year on Conde Nast's top ten destinations list. They do have something in common with smart destinations however. They began the research necessary for Inclusive Destination Development in 2001 by examining their Livability. Read "Is Lehigh Valley Senior Friendly?"

Senior-Friendly Levers Improve Door Design

From the Tennesean -- Universal Design as mainstream in private home construction:

Instead of knobs, many people choose levers to give them the upper hand in opening and closing doors.

Once marketed only to older people, the levers are now targeted at homeowners of all ages, especially if the builder is using universal design principles in a house.

Full article:

Senior-friendly levers improve door design