Korea and Bangalore: Tracking the Diffusion of Universal Design


For years now Tom Rickert of Access Exchange International in San Francisco has been the driving force behind the adoption of inclusive transportation systems worldwide. He is an incarnated point of diffusion for the seven principles of Universal Design. Reading the article about Bangalore deciding to mimic new Dehli Metro is just the tip of the iceberg revelation of all that you an discover firsthand by reading the newsletter of Access Exchange International.

While Universal Design makes its impact on public transportation in South Asia it continues to spread in the Asia Pacific region. Recently we see it merging with the "Korean Wave" as in this article, New Designs Focus on Easy Use, in Digital Chosunibo.

Note the factual error attributed to Lim Young-mo, senior researcher with Samsung Economic Research Institute that Universal Design is a "concept that first appeared in the U.S in the early nineties." They say it takes a good 20 to 30 years for an idea or tecnnology to diffuse. Here we see the diffusion and miscommunicatiion process operating hand-in-hand. On themore positive side, during the early years the fact that Ron Mace and others with disabilities were so strongly associated with their concept, Universal Design, meant that it was stigmatized and shunted to the margins in the same manner as the community which brought this transformative tool to the world.

Disabled people of Bangalore have indicated the city's metro system and other services connected to it should be easy for them to access.

Over the years they have been complaining that government buildings are not easily accessible to them.

For example ramps meant for disabled people are not designed for access by wheelchair.

"In house we will transmit whatever we have learnt to our engineers and consultants who are in the process of designing our subways, our elevated rail systems as well as elevated platforms," said Jitender Nag, the chief of corporate communications for Bangalore Metro.

Programme Manager for Actionaid John Cordeira said, "universal design simply means that whatever u produce, manufacture, or design should be in a way that all people can use it so the objective of this training is to make the environment barrier free".

The aim is to ensure that Bangalore Metro systems are friendly for the disabled like the Metro in Delhi.


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