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Universal Design: Why don’t we have more of it?


There could be several reasons why universal design has not taken off in a big way in the housing and construction industry – not knowing how to do it, industry wedded to longstanding technical efficiencies, entrenched ‘us and them’ attitudes towards people with disabilities and older people, unchallenged myths about cost and difficulty – to name a few. With greater prominence now given to the human rights of people with disabilities plus a rapidly ageing population, designing inclusively is becoming more than just a design option – it is becoming essential. So it would be good to find out just what the industry believes the inhibitors and facilitators of universal design really are.

Jane Bringolf is seeking to answer this question in her PhD studies at the Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney. Through in-depth interviews and surveying across the built environment industry Jane hopes to find out where the main difficulties lay and also what might be done to encourage more universally designed homes so that it becomes standard and ‘normal’.

As part of this study Jane is also seeking opinions of those who are experienced with both the issues of disability and construction. All staff and contractors are invited to take part in the survey which can be downloaded here. The information sheet can be downloaded here. Depending on how many comments you want to make it should take about 10-15 minutes to complete the survey form.

Any questions to Jane by email: or mobile 0417 231 349. More information about this study is available from the Urban Research Centre website by clicking here.

This research has University of Western Sydney ethics approval (No. H6886).

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