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Universal Design at the Urban Scale

Wolfgang F.E. Preiser

Professor, Architecture at the University of Cincinnati : USA

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Universal design (Inclusive Design in the UK; Design for All in Scandinavia) is about the power of lifting the human spirit beyond legislated minimum requirements and standards, as exemplified by the American with Disabilities Act in the US. In order to ascertain the viability of the Seven Principles of Universal Design (Preiser and Ostroff, 2001), it will be necessary to develop objective and explicit criteria for the performance and evaluation of designed and planned environments. According to Preiser (2003) these criteria should be tested in line with the traditional three-level hierarchy of priorities, including:  1. health, safety, security (addressed by the building codes); 2. function, efficiency, work processes (covered by the design and planning guideline literature); and 3., social, psychological, cultural performance (distilled from the research literature). At the urban planning scale, these can be related directly to control mechanisms common in planning, such as building codes, the life safety code, zoning regulations, design review, tax incentives, as well as guidance, which has emanated from environment/behavior research over the past 35 years.  Due to the paucity of systematic, universal/inclusive design evaluation research (Preiser, 2001), the author proposes to scrutinize case study examples at the urban and planning scale.  The underlying theoretical framework is feedback based, and it is aiming at continuous quality improvements. This is in the expectation that universally/inclusively designed environments will facilitate their use by a vast majority of people. Some recommendations will be made for future explorations and research into the application of universal/inclusive design at the urban scale, and to the field of planning in general.

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What has Inclusive Design missed? Importance of Emergency Preparedness

Edwina Juillet

Director, National Task Force on Fire and Life Safety for People with Disabilities : USA

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Why are we not prepared - emergency preparedness - for the evacuation, sheltering, recovery for those who we know will need assistance, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, people without vehicles, the poor? Public sector mandated planning has not paid particular attention to these populations...

UD or inclusive design began as an extension of making our built environment and programs accessible to as many as possible. Universal Design has addressed partially everything, our living spaces, communication devices, products for the kitchen from appliances to cooking implements, in other words creating a better environment for everyday living for all. But, what about events that occur disrupting our day to day routine... such as a catastrophic event? A disaster is not personal, but, something that impacts a large segment of the population? So, we arrive at preparing for emergencies.

My talk will cover recent efforts toward the development of strategies of emergency preparedness.

Strengthening the preparedness of the Nation requires revisiting our traditional approaches to defining and addressing preparedness requirements through planning. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8)