The main selection criteria are “whether the principles of universal design (UD) have been espoused and whether superior activities to achieve them have been proposed or carried out.” Judging is based on both the advocacy of the principles and the activities and actions that result from it. Both are comprehensively evaluated as a whole. The judging perspective mentioned in the application requirements is also given importance in the evaluation process.
Konnichiwa, Good day everyone and welcome to the 2013 IAUD Awards Ceremony. Once again, as Chair of the Selection Committee I have been privileged to review some striking initiatives and inspiring products mapping out new directions for Universal Design. What this tells me is that in Japan, UD is now deeply embedded in business thinking and public awareness, pointing to a remarkable preparedness and willingness among the Japanese people to tackle the social priorities and design challenges that are part of creating a UD society for all.
The Jury panel was drawn from three continents, and so able to take a fully international view of the entries. It consisted of myself, Roger Coleman, Professor Emeritus of the Royal College of Art, London, Valerie Fletcher, Executive Director of the Institute for Human-Centered Design, USA, Francesc Aragall, Director of the Design for All Foundation, Spain, and from Japan, Professor Toshiharu Arai, of Kanazawa College of Art, Design Consultant Fumikazu Masuda, Professor of Tokyo Zokei University, and Professor Keiji Kawahara, of the Graduate School, Nagoya University of Arts and Sciences, Co-Chair of the conference and Executive Director of IAUD. Despite our different backgrounds and viewpoints, we found remarkable unanimity in arriving at our decisions, and a deep appreciation of the commitment, insight and innovation demonstrated by all the entrants.
2013 has delivered a rich crop of entries across the full compass of universal and inclusive design approaches, ranging from assistive products and services, through user-led design processes and solutions, to examples of UD as a business and new product development strategy. Notably, in this year’s entries – a number of which are now well-proven in practice – we see strong evidence that UD is being increasingly adopted as a key business model for the future, targeted at mainstream markets and capable of delivering powerful, new and innovative concepts.
So it gives me great pleasure to read out the citations for each of the winners.
You can listen to the voice massage of the citations from the Chairman. (Grand Award, Gold Awards and Silver Awards)
An innovative and extremely well-researched and realized rethink of the light passenger vehicle with an emphasis on flexibility, adaptability and ease of access and loading / unloading within a small footprint. This has been achieved by reducing the intrusion of mechanical elements into the passenger space, to facilitate a redesign of the vehicle platform that meets the needs of the widest possible range of users. Although the needs of wheelchair users were prioritized throughout the design development process the end result is a car-for-all, a multi-generational vehicle and a perfect fit with the complexity and diversity of modern family lifestyles. Through this sophisticated rethink of vehicle engineering assumptions Honda has created a new vehicle typology with significant potential, not just in Japan, but across Europe and other major market areas.
The Jury felt that with this innovative concept Honda has demonstrated the true commercial potential of Universal Design. By placing the lifestyles of more extreme users at the heart of the development process and using that as a spur to including the widest range of consumer profiles, the Honda design team has created a vehicle platform that truly addresses the needs of the modern, multi-generational family. The Jury congratulates Honda on this advance in the application of UD and wishes the company every success with this new venture.
The Jury thought although the safety standard of the vehicle is high there remains scope to improve security for wheelchair passengers traveling in the rear of the vehicle.
Ota City stands out among the 23 Tokyo municipalities as a leading promoter of Universal Design, having established a 10-year plan aimed at making the municipality and its facilities more accessible to all its citizens and visitors. This is a rolling process of continuous improvement, and as a first step the renovation of Ota City’s main office building was chosen as a demonstration project and a way of building the necessary relationships and consultation processes in collaboration with the municipality’s disabled citizens. The programme started in 2009 with a complete redesign of signage within the building, followed by the introduction of maps and tactile features to aid navigation. The result is a highly accessible building fully tested and endorsed by a wide range of disabled users.
The Jury commends Ota City ,Uchida Systems Co.,LTD and Kuwahata Design Office on initiating such a forward-looking programme. The commitment to “a positive upward spiral of continuous improvement” is at the heart of this submission and the concept that most appealed to the jury. In recommending the award the Jury advises that in future developments, Ota City and Kuwahata design seriously consider incorporating some of the key aspects of exemplary designs in other parts of the world, where an emphasis is placed on the integration of multi-sensory information for wayfinding.
In this extraordinary collaboration, two companies, that in other circumstances would see each other as major competitors, have joined forces to demonstrate the benefits of voice-guidance for domestic TVs. This collaboration is based on mutual respect for each other’s achievements in universal design and in social engagement, and centered on a programme of product experience events that introduce the technology to the many people with visual limitations who might benefit from it. The programme includes an internet “Voice Guidance Portal” that the collaborators are encouraging other companies to join, along with a large-scale dissemination initiative that by March 2013 had included some 113 events, reaching out to 5,672 people. In addition, it has been extended to include other types of domestic voice-guided appliances and products.
The addition of voice-guidance to domestic and information products makes them useable by a wide range of people with visual and mobility limitations and is an important way of extending the accessibility of products and services. The Jury was deeply impressed by the way Mitsubishi and Panasonic have transcended commercial barriers to work together for the benefit of people who may otherwise be excluded from easy access to mainstream media and information.
This is an important demonstration of the inclusive thinking and future vision underpinning the establishment of IAUD, and the Jury urges other companies to follow the example set here, and find ways to share information and expertise and work together to realize the goal of a UD society.
This well-researched and highly user-friendly system is responsive to the requirements of the 2006 law. It gives real-time information to passengers about the status of trains, their routes and the layout of platforms along with other useful information to aid navigation for a wide range of users, including foreign visitors as well as people with hearing difficulties. It has been in service for some considerable time, during which Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has continued to research user needs and preferences to better evolve the design and expand the range of information provided. This has included the development of an appropriate character font and the introduction of LCD technology.
The Jury was particularly impressed with the simplicity and effectiveness of the system, and the company’s commitment to continuous improvement. The Jury members from Spain, the UK and United States attested to how accessible the Japanese rail network was for them as a result, and importantly how well that user-friendliness reflected on their impressions of Japan as a welcoming and friendly country. The Jury hopes that in the future the company will push ahead with improvements that take it well beyond current legal requirements in Japan and make the system true world-leader in inclusive transport information display.
This exemplary initiative is part of a wider, long-standing programme from Sekisui House Ltd. offering opportunities for people to learn about Universal Design, better understand what it means and develop useful skills in evaluating products and services from a UD perspective. The intention is to heighten awareness of UD and give people the ability to make informed purchasing decisions based on that awareness. This initiative seeks to embed UD understanding in primary school education, and to do so in practical, hands-on ways that give schoolchildren direct experience of Universal Design products and encourage them to develop the ability to assess and evaluate UD products. It also raises awareness of the real diversity of society in particular in terms of capability, and importantly, the key role of UD in achieving an inclusive society.
The Jury felt this entry had much in common with the Smart UD proposal, also from Sekisui, but that the focus on educating future generations was of major importance. However, the Jury sees this as a ‘demonstration project’ – not an end but a beginning – and in making this Gold Award to Sekisui trusts that the company will now roll out this initiative on the widest possible basis as an investment in future generations.
A very simple, elegant and effective communication tool in the form of an application running on a smart phone or ‘tablet’ computer. UD Handwriting facilitates ‘conversations’ between those with limited or no hearing and other people across a wide range of situations. By integrating voice recognition technology along with user-friendly manual input of text, both groups of people can quickly communicate via on-screen text. Voice recognition provides a simple interface for people without hearing loss who are not used to communicating in text format making it easier for them to adopt this means of communication. Apart from enabling conversations between people it has a potentially important role in customer service, especially where staff are equipped with ‘smart’ devices, and as a step towards ‘normalizing’ text communication.
The Jury was impressed by the use of a ubiquitous technology platform to address a chronic communication problem with an off-the shelf device and a simple interface. It noted that extensive research and liaison with end-user groups had been undertaken during development, and hopes that, although coming from a small organization and presently limited in its availability, it will attract the finance necessary to make it genuinely universal and able to function equally well across all smart phone and tablet types and in multiple languages, so ensuring an international market and benefit.
The Healthcare and Welfare category includes those products and services that address special needs in more holistic ways. In the case of the “Wells” bath, considerable attention has been paid to improving the sense of independence in otherwise dependent users, and to making the carer’s task easier and so facilitating a pleasurable experience for both. Extensive research has resulted in a simple, flexible design with a domestic aesthetic, which can be adapted to a range of physical capabilities and bathing preferences.
The Jury agreed that this is a well thought out design that delivers a versatile but compact bathtub that can be accommodated in a relatively small space and domestic setting. Although it is essentially an assistive device, by focussing on maximizing the bathing experience and simultaneously minimizing the burden on caregivers, the “Wells” bath goes beyond purely physical needs to address important psychological factors impacting on self-esteem, independence and care-giving, that are becoming increasingly important as the population ages.
Supermarket design has evolved in many ways customer-friendly ways, but the checkout remains a pinch point and a negative experience for customers and staff alike. Building on extensive and detailed research Okamura Corporation have proposed four complimentary designs focused on removing the need for the lifting of heavy baskets, simplifying the checkout process and improving the experience for all users, while maximizing safety and efficiency.
The Jury noted that Okamura is not the only organization researching the supermarket checkout and proposing innovative improvements, but thought that this entry offered considerable benefits to staff customers and supermarket management alike and for that reason was highly likely to be adopted. It is hoped Okamura will build on this recognition and we will soon see these designs implemented.
The safety of children in the home is a very real concern for many people. Through this educational initiative targeting parents and children, Sekisui is making a valuable contribution by helping parents and children better understand hazards in the home, and how they children can be particularly vulnerable. A further benefit of this practical programme is that it emphasizes the importance of independence and development through play and seeks to make homes a safe environment for active children.
It was this focus on independence and active childhoods that appealed to the Jury, in particular the emphasis on children taking an interest in and responsibility for their own safety and the important idea of promoting an understanding of universal design at an early age.
This entry attempts to redress a frequent but little understood problem in schools, where although textbooks may conform to UD standards, in particular with reference to the use of color, the challenges faced by many children with mild color vision deficiencies tend to be overlooked. In response, Kyoiku-Shuppan has produced a textbook for parents, teachers and educational administrators that documents these problems in readily understandable ways, and suggests strategies for dealing with them.
The Jury thought this an important beginning and trusts it will be part of an iterative and ongoing process that enables progress to be tracked and ensures a high level of awareness of this and other issues within the education system.
Although not the only company offering voice-guidance technology for TV sets, Panasonic has played a leadership role in developing and disseminating this technology, for which it has received international recognition. Not only does the technology benefit people with limited or no vision, it offers convenience for a wide range of users who have difficulty using a remote control. The successful internationalization of this technology achieved by Panasonic is a pointer to the potential market advantage of well-executed UD innovation.
The Jury congratulates Panasonic on its clear and evident commitment to developing innovative and user-friendly solutions to problems that can exclude specific groups and also large numbers of people from access to information and everyday products. The development of this technology and its collaborative dissemination with Mitsubishi stands an exemplar in accessible information technology.
The Color Universal Design Organization has created a system of guidelines and product accreditation, along with a recognizable mark, that makes it easy for organizations to ensure that colors used in communications are compliant. Demand for accreditation has been high, requiring a more efficient and flexible approach. As a result and in collaboration with Dai Nippon Printing, CUDO has developed a certification system for the management of Color Universal Design at the organizational level rather than individual product level thus removing a bottleneck to pervasive implementation.
The Jury applauds the important and significant efforts of CUDO and Dai Nippon Printing, but suggests that further thought be given to ensuring that standardization does not lead to a lack of innovation and aesthetic quality in communication design.
Recovery from injury or invasive treatment is very significantly improved through rehabilitation, but exercises in a clinical environment using standardized equipment make it hard to maintain interest and follow a challenging routine. Patricia Moore has developed a range of innovative facilities attached to clinical centers that replicate post-treatment realities by bringing elements of a familiar local environment into the clinical and remedial setting. This improves patient outcomes and staff satisfaction, provides sponsorship opportunities to local businesses and promotes sense of ownership within the local community.
The Jury is aware that Patricia Moore is currently engaged in applying this approach to the rehabilitation of injured military personnel and hopes to hear more about this development at future IAUD conferences.
This combined solar charger and portable lamp has been designed specifically to provide people living in unelectrified areas with a smoke-free portable light source and charger for small electrical items such as mobile phones. This will help reduce fire and smoke hazards, reduce the cost of lighting, facilitate study and enhance the safety of women and children after dark. Panasonic intends to donate 100,000 of these devices to communities in Africa and Asia as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Program, and also make them available in Japan in response to natural disasters.
The Jury commends Panasonic on this initiative, and the solar lantern, which it sees as an outstanding model of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The need is so urgent - 20% of the world's population without power - and its potential so great that the jury urges Panasonic to explore ways in which this product could be sold in the developing world.