Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A is for Amen! Finally, people are starting to listen...

I spend a lot of time sending correspondence trying to get people and organizations who have the potential to be major game changers in the building and development industries to listen to what I am saying.  I admit it is often very frustrating  being blown off or given static responses about ADA compliance or aging in place efforts.  The lack of understanding about what universal design is in reference to housing and public spaces is an industry wide epidemic that is evident in every aspect from planning, design  & production to the point of sale.  I have a cache of stories and email responses to prove this and keep me motivated to educate people.  One person associated with one of the largest trade organizations in the US even went so far to say he could see “building houses for those people somewhere else”  when I met with him asking about the possibility of  collaborating on a subdivision of universally designed homes in a highly sought area.

That line of thinking is a glimpse of one of the main reasons for the slow progression of the universal design movement: discrimination and stereotypical attitudes toward people with disabilities.  This evidence for action is the biggest hurdle to overcome because the term universal design has become synonymous with ADA because of being used interchangeably with it.  Consequently the mental mindset and visuals that go along with ADA requirements have become obstructions to the movement to the point of people being obstinate about embracing the term, and that evidence is everywhere too. 

Then there are those who are starting to listen and this makes it all worth while.  Case in point is The American Institute of Architects and I am thankful for their responsiveness and actions.  I reached out to them back in November about some things I had found while preparing for a presentation.  They took heed and have made some visible and progressive changes in the language on their own website and even changed the name of their upcoming conference based on the things I pointed out to them.  While they still have some editing to do in the structure of their course offerings, I am giving them an A for Amen because my prayers are being answered.  Thank you, AIA!  The ball is rolling.

I have said it a zillion times but will say it again: universal means for all.


See here:  https://conferenceonarchitecture.com/

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A is for A New Start!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Today is January 2, 2018 and I am back to work.  It is that time of year when people commit to changes to improve themselves or do things differently, and given personal experience and habits,  would imagine in most cases it is to make life better in general.  I was watching The Today Show earlier and between the content and the commercials, it is obvious so much focus is being put on leading a healthier lifestyle in 2018 through good nutrition and being active.   Eating healthier and getting more exercise definitely tops my own list.

It is easier said than done if you live in an environment that does nothing to support the formation of these habits. So, in this new year, I am hoping there are people out there who are going to commit themselves to learning about, practicing and promoting universal design in their work, ESPECIALLY, if they have anything to do with constructing living, working and recreational environments.   Awareness and practice of universal design in your design and construction work could add years to someone else's life, and possibly even you or someone you love.

ENABLING a culture of  health through BUILT environments is one of the most crucial components of BUILDING a culture of health among populations.  Universal design is the way to get there so make a commitment to learn about it. You can make a difference and I am thanking you in advance for your help to further a universal design movement.

Amy Barnes
January 2, 2018