Universal Support for Universal Design

  • The South Australian Upper House has supported amendments to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Bill that will increase accessibility for everyone. The amendments mean that South Australian developers will be required to consider universal design principles in their proposals. Long overdue, this is an Australian first. A walk through city and suburban streets shows why we need to promote best practice in access and inclusion planning.  Ramps that are too steep, and road crossing ramps that don’t line up are not just inconvenient, they also pose safety risks.  Any costs involved in retro-fitting basic infrastructure are offset by greater accessibility of public spaces meaning more people can get out and about safely and conveniently. Mandatory compliance monitoring for access features is required in the same way as food safety or work health and safety inspections. Too many “mistakes” are made and not picked up and corrected and the assumption is that “near enough is good enough”.  But the built environment is only the start.  Transportation systems, housing design, tourist destinations, employment and education all need universal design principles applied to them.

    In this presentation I will outline the processes that got the Upper House to the point of support and agreement, and how the barriers and arguments against this move were overcome.  The more we as a society, as policy-makers, and at all levels of government learn about the social and economic imperatives of real inclusion of all people, the more incumbent it is on us to find ways to enable that inclusion and participation.


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