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Universal Design Will Open Cities to Disabled

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Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
4/17/2013 12:00:02 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: This just in
Here are a couple of other comments from Karen Braitmayer, from the same email:

"If communities do want to be more walk-able or bike-friendly, then they need to consider allowing alternate devices for those who can't walk the distances.  Perhaps substituting golf carts or scooters for bikes?  

 "In terms of urgent priorities in  city planning - I believe that efficiently connecting different modes of in-city transportation is the first priority. Then people with disabilities can have choice in their location for housing, employment, schooling and community services. The next priority is likely to be creating housing that is age-neutral so that anyone can stay in their home, regardless of illness, aging, disability, etc."

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
4/17/2013 11:57:17 AM
User Rank Staff
This just in
Just got an email back from an expert in architecture for the disabled -- Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA, who happened to be away last week. She gave me permission to post a few of her comments on the topic of universal urban design:

"The increased focus on human powered transport and walkability, both for citizen health and for carbon reduction, does overlook those who rely on transit and individual mobility vehicles to gain close access to their destination.  The most significantly impacted population may be our seniors - who may choose not to attend a social or community gathering if they are worried that it may be too taxing to get there. They are least likely to be advocating for their needs because they don't identify as people with disabilities. The biking lobby is advocating for a community of near athletes - not the leisure biker (12 yo riding to school) or person who uses a mobility device like a walker, scooter or wheelchair to get to work or the store."

 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
4/17/2013 11:54:54 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: textured surfaces and wheelchairs etc
I love Falling Water. I always wonder, though, how the residents kept it so clean and uncluttered. I suppose living in a work of art, the work takes precedence over one's messiness.

richheap
richheap  
4/17/2013 6:03:10 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: textured surfaces and wheelchairs etc
I wasn't aware of FallingWater so presumably there are others who also don't know about it. Here's a video:


CitySolver
CitySolver  
4/16/2013 10:57:10 AM
User Rank Blogger
textured surfaces and wheelchairs etc
The thing about good design is its ability to find a middle way without it being a compromise. In Gordon Cullens famous book 'Townscape' he shows that we can have textured/cobbled surfaces and still have easy access. Its about weaving smooth surfaces through, between, around the more decorative or aesthetically rustic surfaces tha exist. Wheelchair friendly does not mean boring, but in the wrog hands designs that accomodate wheelchair users are often just dull. Lets see some creativity. In University when I studied architecture, the idea of disabled friendly design was always treated by the students as yet another constraint to design BUT ITS NOT. Frank Lloyd Wright, Americas greatest Architect said that teh best design comes from tight constraints, it forces creativity. Look at his masterpiece FallingWater, it is so iconic because it had to be ground breaking to work, a normal design solution would not suffice to enable those huge overhanging floor slabs. Urban Designers GET CREATIVE, DITCH DULL!!!

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
4/13/2013 7:37:51 PM
User Rank Burgher
Baby Boomers coming of Age
Mary,

As I look around and see what the baby boomers have accomplished I am anticipating they will definitely change the world for the physically challenged.  As they get older and need to be accommodated I am expecting they will make the world work in a more Universally designed way.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
4/11/2013 12:58:46 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Was almost embarrassed
Yes indeed, Nicole. What distresses me most is that some very interesting urban trends, such as cycling and broadened public transport, sometimes seem to exclude disabled people. It's important to keep an eye out here, I think, and call designers out on any neglect in this area.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
4/11/2013 12:53:38 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Was almost embarrassed
Mary: That's outrageous. My jaw just dropped!

Unfortunately, though, it seems that many who've designed our cities actually share his opinion. He may just be one of the few who've actually admitted it this way. Others appear happy to ignore the topic instead, as though it doesn't exist.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
4/11/2013 12:32:26 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Was almost embarrassed
One of the saddest testaments to neglect of disabled services in my experience happened when I worked with some voice activation consultants years ago on a report. I asked whether the technology had been considered for the disabled. The consultant ignored my question. When I asked again, he exclaimed, "I don't care about the [expletive] disabled!"

Here was someone who was potentially a "market mover" plainly ignoring a market he didn't see as lucrative enough to bother with.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
4/11/2013 11:48:11 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Was almost embarrassed
Mary, I was thinking the same while I was reading this. It's mind-boggling that this is a subject that gets so little respect or attention. It's almost like an afterthought, or it seems so when you assess the infrastructure in cities that is intended to aid the disabled. Newer buses seem to have been reengineered to make on- and off-access much easier for people who can't climb steps, but that's just one tiny piece of the urban puzzle. I give people in wheelchairs, and the blind, and the elderly, a ton of credit for getting around New York and other cities. I don't know how they do it.

(For those interested, James Byrne wrote a great piece about this subject for us as well.)

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