2nd International niversal Design Conference: Kyoto


Valerie Fletcher tells it like it is in Kyoto: at the 2nd International Conference for Universal Design:

The conference reinforced that what it means to be old is changing. Many people over the age of 70 are staying active, whether it’s someone in Norway (a world leader in universal design along with Japan) extending their career or a grandparent in sub-Saharan Africa taking care of an HIV-positive baby whose parents have died of AIDS. It isn’t just polite to make their world accessible: it’s imperative.

For many other retirees, mental and physical isolation is the challenge. A major antidote, says Dr. Jane Barratt, secretary general for the International Federation on Aging, is creating “age friendly cities. It’s about creating enabling environments. Public space is an important opportunity.”

Relatedly, there was a debate at the conference about whether governments can or should mandate the creativity and innovation necessary for good UD. “I think fixed standards and regulations make design more predictable,” if not outright boring, says Valerie Fletcher of Adaptive Environments in Boston. “It becomes, ‘Just tell me what I have to do.’”


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