January 2007 Archives

Us, Not You, for Person of the Year


Paul Lamb, founder of Street Tech, and colleague in the Community Technology Foundation of California Zero Divide Fellowship sent a note this morning as he delves into Universal Design. In a Computerworld piece below he addresses another issue of concern to the disabld community - affordability:

“Is anybody making technology and access to it for me, and not just for some rich kid?” I overheard a young student ask. At the time, I was in the classroom at Street Tech, a San Francisco Bay area technology training and job placement program for low-income and underserved adults.

The answer is complicated. Or is it?

Trickle-down technology is a fact of life in the U.S., just as are trickle-down employment, housing and wealth distribution. Thankfully, we as a nation believe in offering a safety net to keep people from slipping over the edge entirely. But we also harbor a competing set of beliefs that people get what they deserve and that working hard entitles one to certain “freedoms,” like unlimited wealth accumulation.

What if technology could help us to move beyond a “to the victor go the spoils” mentality? What if we all had similar access to the tools for success in a world that is being rapidly flattened, as Thomas Friedman suggests, by technology changes? That flattening already has some welcome partners, like municipal and community wireless broadband networks that are attempting to offer free and low-cost Internet access to everyone.

New Zealand on Wheels


Simon O'Keefe

Simon O'Keefe is out to put New Zealand on the map - our map - the map that that tells us destinations and attractions that have earned our business by going out of the way to be accessible; to be inclusive.

The blog New Zealand on Wheels documents Inclusive Destination Development. Get to know this part of the world. At the blog read the new post by Sandra Rhodda. She is a researcher at Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth on the West Coast undertaking an audit and catalog of the accessibility of businesses in New Zealand - especially the West Coast of the South Island.

Been to NZ? help her out with your firsthand experience. Here's mine.

When Green & Universal Design Combine


Near-Zero Energy Home

Once again sustainable, environmentally responsible Universal Design is making the news. A press release on the BASF Near-Zero Energy Home states:

The BASF Near-Zero Energy Home is 80% more energy efficient than the average home... not only does it save energy, with the integration of solar energy, it produces energy, as well. "There are many days that the electrical meter moves in reverse allowing the homeowner to sell the excess energy back to the utility company," Armstrong stated. "In this way the project represents a carbon-neutral model for residential housing nationwide."

Touting other benefits, Armstrong added, "The BASF Near-Zero Energy Home also delivers increased durability, affordability, ease of construction and improvements in indoor environmental health and comfort."

In the first quarter of 2007, the home will be donated to St. Michael's Housing Authority and then turned over to a family with a teenage boy who is living with quadriplegic paralysis. As such, the home was designed to incorporate elements of universal design, demonstrating BASF's commitment to providing real-life solutions for people with diverse needs.

Sailing: Mobility Cup 2007


mobility cup 2006 logo

2006 was just prelude. Mobility Cup 2007 hopes to make an even bigger splash.

Mobility Cup 2007 will be run by Sail Able Nova Scotia and hosted at the Dartmouth Yacht Club. It will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, to include one day's training and four of racing. Sailing will be on the Bedford Basin, a sheltered body of water two miles wide and five miles long - where the WWII Atlantic convoys would gather.

"Mobility Cup 2007 will give a huge boost to the profile of disabled sailing in Halifax and the Maritimes," said honourary chairman Paul Tingley, of Sail Able Nova Scotia. "Our goal is to purchase some Martin 16 adaptive sailboats so that we attract more disabled sailors.

"We have the highest percentage of disabled people in the country and we want to provide them with a new recreational activity not dependant on their disability. It is sailing for all, and we want to get some Sip 'n' Puff technology here, too."

- From the press release.

The Universal Design "Twofer"


In the document, the Rio Charter: Universal Design for Sustainable and Inclusive Development, green and Universal Design

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology House Research Consortium (MIT House_n) and Bensonwood Homes are building a series of four prototype homes through the Open Prototype Initiative, designed to bring innovation to the construction industry.



"While Malaysia promotes itself as a tourist destination, it should also provide amenities for disabled tourists," writes Malaysia's Anthony Thanasayan in today's The Star Online piece "Consider Disabled Tourists."

Thanasayan is a well-known disability self-advocate and journalist in Malaysia. He has done both the Malaysian tourism industry and foreign visitors a service with this piece calling for an Incusive Tourism during Visit Malasia Year.



Mountains Without Barriers


mountains without barriers

No Barriers and the Verizon Foundation produced the film Mountains Without Barriers. You can find it here.

It might make you redefine the word "accessible!"

George Braddock, a general contractor whose business, Creative Housing Solutions, has done about 1,500 projects for people with disabilities.

"The disability movement had an advantage because it was so 'cross-cultural,' " Braddock says. "Disabilities can affect anyone at any time and at any level, and as a result it has attracted a fair amount of resources."

That attention intensified after 1990, when Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, to prohibit discrimination in employment and public accommodation against people with disabilities.

"The ADA deserves a huge amount of credit for forcing the disabilities issue, but it's just a stepping stone," between public policy and the broader accommodations that allow disabled people to remain in their own homes, Braddock says.

Architectural and technological innovations developed especially to assist people with severe physical or mental disabilities also are finding new application in the "aging in place" movement that allows the elderly to remain in their own homes far longer than might have been possible just a few years ago, he says.

How to Promote Universal Design:



Both Dwyer and Pepiot see the campaign's success as a perfect example of what can happen when residents use the power of local government to their advantage- not demanding change, but educating the powers that be on the need for change.

"We were always careful to play within the rules of the game. We didn't go make a scene, we went and talked under the public statements time or agenda time for that project," Pepiot said.

"What I've learned in this process," Pepiot said, "is that it helps not to go in and ask for things that don't make sense. We had something that made great sense, so people wanted to learn about it."

Call for Papers


The Association of American Geographers has announced the 2007 AAG Disability Specialty Group Student Paper Competition.

The following information is available online but bears duplication here in part:

Disabled travellers - a guide for airline operators

This information has been adapted from a presentation by Jane Buckley - Director of medical services, Australian Paralympic Team.

Disabled passengers have different needs to the 'average' traveller. The result could easily be a journey which is stressful for all concerned. It can also be a trip that is rewarding for staff, relaxing for the passengers concerned and enhances the airline's image for all those involved. The difference is mostly in the preparation.

If a passenger is travelling independently, allow them to tell you how it is best to assist them. There are several different ways of helping. Passengers may just want assistance with moving their legs during a transfer from their wheelchair to their seat. Lifting can be quite dangerous if done incorrectly.

When dealing with disabled people, airline staff need to be aware that some disabilities are not obvious. Patronising or speaking louder is not appreciated.

Glacier National Park - Canada


Glacier Park

Glacier National Park in the US is a spectacular portion of the country adjacent to the Blackfeet Nation. Travel north and you are in Calgary, Alberta. A little to the west you find Banff National Park blending into Jasper National Park at its northern end. Sometimes overlooked on Highway 1continuing west out of Banff are Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke National Parks. Below are links to the accessibility features of each.

Resources on Accessible Japan


Here is a link to a muli-year project documenting the accessibility of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kamakura, Japan.

DPI World Assembly 2007  logo

Yesterday's post on the Active Aging Conference this May in Korea and the WellAging blog brought in an announcement today from Disabled People's International (DPI) that their 2007 World Assembly will be held in Korea in September 2007. Is it pure coincidence or is Korea emerging onto the world stage as a force for human rights and inclusion?

Whatever history determines now is the time to submit a proposal for a presentation at the 2007 DPI World Assembly.

Is Korea Accessible?


The truth? I'm not sure yet.

But I'll report on what I find after I return from speaking at the Active Aging Conference May 14 - 16 in Namhae, Korea hosted by WellAging

Meanwhile, I am scouring Tour2Korea.com for travel tips and diversions.

Wikitravel on Inclusive Travel


WikiTravel, which by the way will hold its annual gathering in Puerto Rico this year, has the following page on Travel Tips for Blind and Visually Impaired Travelers. Unfortunately it is listed under the pity-evoking category "Cope" instead of something like Inclusive Travel - but that's the beauty of a Wiki. It can be changed by simple editing. The eidt can be maintained by educating the wiki community.

Universal Design at Design Rag


The Design Rag blog has a commentary on the adoption of Universal Design in the post New Noblism in Architecture - Universal Design.

Accessible Spain



No Barriers 2007 Festival



The No Barriers Festival 2007 will be held in Squaw Valley , CA on June 28- July 2, 2007.

From the web site:

FESTIVAL 2007 seeks to share the techniques and technologies which enable people with challenges to live their dreams. Squaw Valley offers a beautiful natural environment for the Festival.

The spirit of No Barriers was conceived by a group of friends with a passion for the beautiful natural places of the world. Each of their lives was profoundly shaped by the mountains, and each in turn used the natural world to shatter barriers about what is possible. In 2003, they came together to form No Barriers, a not-for-profit organization with a goal of promoting innovative ideas, approaches, and assistive technologies which help people with disabilities push through their own personal barriers to live full and active lives.

This 2006 conference is scheduled to be repeated in 2007:

Mansystems (Cyprus), JBR Hellas (Greece) and ΜΗΙ Turismo (Spain) delivered succesfully the first seminar on Accessible Tourism in Cyprus. As highlighted in the seminar, Accessible Tourism is continuously increasing in importance due to, on the one hand, the improvement in the living standard of disabled people and, on the other hand, the aging population: disabled people in Europe, USA, Canada and Japan number approximately 110 million while the total number of disabled and aged people in Europe is approximately 130 million. For Cyprus in particular, the potential for Accessible Tourism from its main source markets is equal to approximately 50 mn people.

Of Sex and Gooseberries


Sometimes the distance between mouth and ear -- or brain and lips -- is more obstacle-strewn than Heathrow at the height of vacation season.

That is especially true if you have Spasmodic Dysphonia. Sue Bayliss of Cairns, Australia recounts a story of the unexpected fruit salad that can result by mixing Aussies, Kiwis, six, sex, and Chinese Gooseberries. See Excuse Me Young Man?

US National Park Access



If you had an America the Beautiful Access Pass you might want to use it to visit the Delware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Here is information on accessibility.

For more in formation on the Access Pass see the USGS here.

A blind woman was denied service at a North Miami Beach Jumbo Buffet restaurant. The manager was arrested. Restaurant management has filed a challenge. See the news video here.

New Rail Europe Single Country Packages



For the first time, Rail Europe is offering single-country rail passes for Croatia and Ireland and two-country passes for Austria and Hungary and Italy and Spain.

Source: ARTA

Smart Elevators



50+ Housing Pioneers Universal Design


Susan Mack

50+ Builder Magazine listed their top 50 exectuives for 2006. Among them, not surprisingly is long-time Rolling Rains Report supporter Susan Mack, president of Homes for Easy Living Universal Design Consultants. Congratulations, Susan!

Will we see Universal Design so prominently represented among the top designers of hotels, resorts, and cruise ships at the end of 2007? Let's hope so.

Is Paris Acccessible?


Global Access News has published Paris Passerelles - Wheelchair Accessible Travel In Paris - 2003 and the follow-up piece Wheelchair Accessible Travel in Paris – 2005. Search through the article archive here to find many more informative articles from around the world.

Kel Smith's Indirect Manipulation Blog


One of the thoughtful people that Jill Chamberlain's New York Times article on Universal Design reached yesterday was Kel Smith.

Kel writes the blog Indirect Manipulation subtitled "{ thoughts about development, design, architecture and other stuff }" Always encouraging to find articulate practitioners of Universal Design here's a snippet:

Universal Design in the New York Times


Design for Everyone, Disabled or Not by Lisa Chamberlain brings Universal Design to an ever widening a audience.

She is correct, if you heed her caveat "large scale", that this is "the first large-scale residential building in the country where all the units were built using what are called universal design principles."

University Neighborhood Apartments in Berkeley takes the prize for being the pace-setting pioneer in the field however.

Now, when will see luxury hotels adoup a 100% Universal Design policy? Resorts? Cruise ships?

Accessible Vacation Planning


youre able logo
Here's a resource for planning - the Youreable.com Accessible Vacation List.

"Lifetime Homes" as Universal Design


Back in October 2006 the Times Online reported that the Tories Plan Housing Revolution to Cater for Elderly Population. And here's some of that revolutionary rhetoric of Universal Design:

FEWER small flats and more bungalows and houses with gardens should be built to make it easier for elderly people to avoid going into care, the Conservatives said yesterday.

David Cameron, the party leader, told an Age Concern conference that houses should be designed to be suitable for every stage of life. “We must think in a new way about housing design and urban planning. Housing in Britain never seems to be built with a whole lifetime in mind,” he said.

New homes tend to be either small flats, which are not suitable when people have children, or tall houses, which aren’t suitable when people become old and less mobile. Although only a quarter of people say they want to live in flats, more than half of all new properties are flats.



Whether you know it or not, Michael Chenail is out there working for you.

michael chenail

Michael Chenail's professional mission is also a personal calling.

Chenail wants to make businesses and other public facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. The firm he founded in 2003, Compliance Alliance, provides consulting to businesses to help them achieve that.

"It's a unique kind of business," said Chenail, who is based in Midlothian and works locally and in the Southeast. "It's not something that the average businessperson would consider or realize is out there."

Alfred Borcover took on some of the issues involved in travel with a disability in this article.

Segway on the Road in Ontario


Segway gets a real time test by people with disabilities in Canada:

Five years ago, it was billed as a revolutionary means of transportation that would one day make the automobile obsolete. Now, the two-wheeled gyroscopic scooter known as the Segway Human Transporter is finally getting an official test-drive in Canada.

A five-year pilot project is underway that makes London, Ont., the first Canadian city to allow the battery-powered Segways on sidewalks and streets, Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield said Friday.

People with disabilities over the age of 14 can now drive a Segway on any Ontario road, but London is the first municipality to allow the vehicles on sidewalks as well, to help gauge how well the Segway integrates into city life.



Age Friedly Cities Initiative by WHO


The World Health Organization is piloting a worldwide Liveable Communities program -- Age Friendly Cities. More information here: http://www.who.int/ageing/projects/age_friendly_cities/en/index.html

Alexia Saoulli quotes Dimitris Lambrianides, president of the Cyprus Paraplegics’ Organisation:

“Access to buildings, pavements, main shopping and entertainment areas are all vital in enticing disabled tourists to Cyprus. Hotels should also been given incentives to make the necessary changes to make them more accessible, beaches should be accessible by way of building wheelchair friendly passageways, and a public transport network or at the very least a private transportation service equipped to cater to people with disabilities is needed.”

Lambrianides said another area which needed much improvement were the disabled services at local airports.

“They should be there to meet them when the planes park, not keep them waiting,” he told the Cyprus Mail.