Universal Design for Disabled People Draws International Support


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a global glimpse of the future

Final Report of the International Disability Exchanges And Studies

(IDEAS) Project for the New Millennium, 1999

Produced by the World Institute on Disability

ded by the U.S. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research,

project # H133A990006



a global glimpse of the future

Final Report on Technology for the

International Disability Exchanges And Studies (IDEAS)

Project for the New Millennium 1999

Funded by the

U.S. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research,

Project #H133A990006

Edited by Barbara Duncan of Rehabilitation International

Layout by Linda Schmidt

Published March 2005
by the

World Institute on Disability

510 16th Street, Suite 100

Oakland, California 94612

For additional copies, contact

Jennifer Geagan (jennifer@wid.org),

IDEAS Project Manager

Cover art reprinted from

“The provision of assistive aids”

by the Na
tional Insurance Administration

Assistive Technology Division

Sannergt. 2, 0426 Oslo Norway




a global glimpse of the future




a global glimpse of the future


Foreword and Acknowledgements


Executive Summary


Inventions and Techniques Developed
for People with Disabilities:


Unanticipated Consequences and Great Expectations

By Barbara Duncan


Report of Results of 2004 International Conference on Universal Design


By Deborah Kaplan

Latin American Group Adopts Rio Charte
r for Universal Design


Building Careers in Design: an online course


By Elaine Ostroff

Best Practices in Universal Design: a comparative study


By Betty Dion Enterprises Ltd.



sful Disability Advocacy at World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva, 2003


By Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons

Report of International Workshop on Accessibility Requirements for


Public Procurement in the ICT Domai
n, Brussels, 2004

By Andries Koster, Netherlands

Where There Are No Wheelchairs: An Overview of Non


Approaches to Wheelchairs in Developing Countries

By Steve Kurzman, Ph.D.


Microsoft Report of I
nternational Conference on “Libraries for the Blind and


Disabled: Moving Toward a Digital Future”

What is Daisy?


By George Kerscher

Audio Description: Access for All


By Joel Snyder




Foreword and


This volu
me of selected papers provides an international state
art overview and
constitutes the final report on technology and disability for the International Disability
Exchanges and Studies (IDEAS) Project for the New Millennium.

The five
year project (1

2004), administered by the World Institute on Disability (WID),
and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research,
concentrated on trends, developments and research in technology and accessibility as one
of its main to

During the five
year project, technology specialists hired by WID provided regular reports to
the project periodical,
, from Europe, Japan, and North and South
America, as well
as attending international state of the art conferences. Technology reporters
included Deborah Kaplan, former Executive Director of the World Institute on Disability; Mark
Krizack of Whirlwind Wheelchair International; Jane Berliss of the Center for Access
Technology in Berkeley; and Judy Wilkinson of the USA; Hiroshi Kawamura and other
representatives of the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons; and Andries
Koster and other representatives of Kantel Konsult in the Netherlands. Jennif
er Geagan of
WID, IDEAS project manager, provided technology news and resources throughout the

For the final report, WID commissioned several specialists to prepare overviews of key
technology topics with a view towards the future. Some of the re
ports have already appeared
in DisabilityWorld, while others are printed here for the first time. The topics selected for an
international perspective are: universal design, advocacy and the information society,
accessible information technology in the Eur
opean Union, wheelchair provision trends in
developing countries and information technology developments benefiting blind and print
disabled users.



a global glimpse of the future


Executive Summary

One of the results of the five
year IDEAS Project for the New Millennium is an interna
overview of technology and disability trends, with a view towards the future. Produced by the
World Institute on Disability, the 120
page volume consists of commissioned articles and
conference reports summarizing the following developments:

A hist
oric look at the unforeseen impact on society of technological advances intended to
benefit people with disabilities;

Several progress reports on best practices in universal design projects, including the
results of an international comparative study car
ried out by a Canadian firm, and an in
depth overview of the December 2004 Universal Design Conference in Rio de Janeiro;

A detailed case study of successful disability advocacy led by Japan and Thailand at the
World Summit on the Information Society, held

in Geneva in 2003;

A comprehensive article detailing progress in the European Union to establish
procurement policies requiring purchase of accessible products and services;

A groundbreaking overview of how nongovernmental organizations based in the
trialized countries are approaching wheelchair provision in developing countries;

Three articles reporting on international efforts to improve information technology for
blind and print disabled users, featuring a report of a 2004 international confere
nce on
“Libraries for the Blind and Print
Disabled: Moving toward a Digital Future,” a summary of
the Daisy project promoting digital books to a new level, and a state of the art look at
audio description of film, television and theater.

In summary

aps the globalization of disability issues and concerns can be most clearly witnessed in
the technology field. Several of these reports, particularly those from the recent Universal
Design conference and the World Summit on the Information Society, illustr
ate practical and
cutting edge partnerships being formed in countries located in both the North and South.
These partnerships, being forged among governments, advocacy and research groups

for example, Brazil, Japan, Norway, the European Union and the U

are both more
concrete and more transparent than other collaborations to improve life for people with
disabilities. Most of these initiatives involve time
dated goals for improvements in clearly
delineated public services such as transport and communic
ations. The much
touted, but
ultimately vague “Society for All” of the 1970s and ’80s, has now been succeeded by a global
blueprint called Universal Design. Universal Design, first developed in the U.S., is meant to
be flexible, allowing for substantial lo
cal variation in application of solutions as long as the
maximum number of users benefit. Other best practices described in the report, such as
those benefiting blind and print
disabled persons, also demonstrate the value of ongoing
international collabora
tion and exchange of research.



Inventions and techniques developed

for people with disabilities:

unanticipated consequences and

great expectations

By Barbara Duncan

Numerous advances are described in this international volume of papers on best pr
and new developments in Technology and Disability, some already implemented, some in
the earliest planning stages and others on the horizon.

Great expectations

We cannot predict with certainty what long range impact these developments will have
the lives of disabled persons or on society in general. But, if we consider the magnitude of
societal impact of previous devices and techniques intended to benefit people with
disabilities, it is not unreasonable to harbor great expectations.

In gener
al, there is substantial resistance by governments and bureaucracies to the costs of
developing and implementing new technologies and adaptations of public facilities and
services designed for people with disabilities. Yet, in nearly every case, these cost
s are
repaid many times over by their unforeseen benefits to society as a whole. Some
contemporary and historic examples follow.

New research on the brain’s first five years

In the 21st century, in response to research demonstrating that the human brain

its most rapid and critical development during the first five years of life, an array of new child
development approaches are being applied. Many of these approaches, centered on early
intervention and appropriate stimulation, were developed dur
ing the last 30 years as ways to
help children with disabilities catch up to their peers.

Ramping up

Throughout the world from Hanoi to Houston, we have become accustomed to using curb
cuts or ramps to move around more easily when using scooters, walkers
, bicycles or
skateboards, when pushing strollers or carts, or dragging suitcases or equipment on wheels.
It is hard to remember that only a few decades ago, the idea of providing curb cuts and
ramps in public spaces was perceived by governments as an extr
emely expensive


a global glimpse of the future


accommodation for a small segment of the population

those who use wheelchairs for
mobility. Ease of movement will only become more important in our aging societies.

Infant sign language

The use of American sign language with all infants

is gaining quickly in popularity with
parents in the U.S., following several books, videos and television programs illustrating that
children as young as 9 months could learn to communicate simple needs or wants. This
technique is enabling parents to begi
n communicating with their children up to a year before
the usual development of recognizable speech, and some research indicates other gains for
the children as well.

Captions for all

In many countries, it is now commonplace to see captioned television
news programs in
public, especially in noisy places such as airports, train stations, lobbies and bars. In the
U.S., this service began in 1976 when the Federal Communications Commission authorized
the use of line 21 on television sets for closed captionin
g for deaf viewers. Nearly 30 years
later, captioned programs are a preferred technique for teaching second language, based on
research showing gains from reading and hearing language simultaneously.

In all the above examples, society is witnessing long r
ange and unforeseen gains from the
wider application of technologies, approaches and inventions meant to improve life for
specific groups of people with disabilities.

Trend established in 1800s

This is not a new phenomenon, in fact some historians trace

this pattern back to the 1800s.
Steve Jacobs, an assistive technology expert, in an article for the
International Rehabilitation

in 1997

discussed many examples and a few follow:


● First typewriter developed in Italy by Pellegrino Turro to enable a blind
friend to write legibly.


● Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone to assist deaf people to


● “Talking book machines,” including 33 1/3 RPM records a


tape recorders, were developed so blind people could listen to books.

● Although the first intended market for the transistor, developed by John

Bardeen and a team of scientists, was smaller, lighter, cheaper hearing aids,
the Chairman of Son
y, Akio Morita, saw its even larger applications,
introducing transistor radios worldwide in the mid


Steve Jacobs, “Technology Developed in Response to Disability Improves Life for All: a history,”

Rehabilitation Review,

Vol. 48, issue 1,

1997, published by Rehabilitation International (




● Vincent Cerf, who is hearing impaired, develops protocols for the
ARPANET, the first large scale computer network, including text messagin
or email to enable better communication with his wife who is deaf.

● Kurzweil reading machine, forerunner of the scanner, produced to read
printed text to blind persons.


● Dragon Systems introduces speech recognition software, aimed at helping
isabled persons who cannot type well to produce written text by talking.
driven improvements to this software are being generated largely for
use by office workers who want to dictate text in a “hands free” mode.

● Similarly, the market for audio b
ooks in various formats has greatly
expanded beyond the blind population to the millions of commuters, travelers
and others who are now listening to bestsellers across the miles.

Looking to the future

We can conclude from these few examples and the arti
cles in this volume that: 1) investment
in assistive technology and universal design pays off for society at large, as well as
improving the quality of life and increasing productivity of people with disabilities, 2) the
earlier that accessibility and grea
ter universality of use are built into the planning process,
the lower the cost, 3) in countries where the population is aging, the investment in universal
design and assistive technology will become critical to the ability of large segments of the
ion to remain in their homes and communities, 4) there is encouraging evidence of
new partnerships between governments and non
governmental organizations all over the
world, dedicated to making these advances available nationwide, through new legislation o
planning codes and no longer confined to islands of excellence, and 5) recent international
exchanges of research and expertise have shown that in many countries the critical mass or
"tipping point" has been reached: the juncture where the evidence of th
e value of the

in this case, universal design

has been demonstrated and the field can now
mature beyond prototypes and pilot projects.



a global glimpse of the future




Universal Design for Disabled People

Draws International Support

Report on International Conference on U
niversal Design,

"Designing for the 21st Century,"

December 2004, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Deborah Kaplan, specialist in Universal Design,

Deborah Kaplan Consulting (

The brochure for
this innovative, international conference states, "This is an extraordinary
moment. We are more diverse now in ability and age than ever before. It is time for design to
catch up. There is an urgent need to exchange ideas about the design of places, things
information, policies and programs that demonstrate the power of design to shape a 21st
century world that works for all of us."

Living up to diverse expectations and agendas

With such an ambitious description, this conference managed to live up to m
any different
expectations and agendas. In
depth pre
conference sessions provided an opportunity for
complex subjects to be explored and explained completely. A variety of workshops and
plenary sessions covered a wide breadth of topics with presenters from

across the globe.
conference "charettes" were organized for participants to spend a portion of a day in an
intensive session, many in the local Rio community, during the pre
conference period,
followed by two working sessions during the Core Conferenc
e along with a final presentation.
The conference brought together exciting Plenary speakers and presenters, many of whom
were high
ranking officials from Brazil. One longer lasting impact of the conference will likely
be an increase in accessibility accom
plishments for Brazilians with disabilities.

Universal design, also referred variously during the conference as inclusive design, design
all or lifespan design, originated as a concept for the built environment. The phrase was
coined by the late arch
itect Ron Mace, a U.S. wheelchair
using pioneer of the disability
accessibility movement, who was remembered at the conference through an awards
presentation in his name. The idea is that through a deliberate design process that focuses
on the needs of all

users, especially including persons with all kinds of disabilities, most of
the things that people build or create can be improved for all users, and also greatly expand
the range of users.

This article originally appeared at




a global glimpse of the future


Reversing basic design procedures

This concept is in contras
t to the usual practice of first designing and constructing something,
such as a building, and then considering how to make it more accessible. The Designing for
the 21st Century III Conference was fueled by an international momentum to adopt universal
ign principles and practices in the planning mode. The Conference aimed to provide
opportunities for the growing number of practitioners and promoters of universal design to
engage with each other as multi
disciplinary colleagues. Designers, educators, lea
ders from
disability, aging and sustainability organizations, business, media and government all
attended the Conference, and had many opportunities to learn from each other, as well as
make new connections for future endeavors.

This international confer
ence built upon the successes of Designing for the 21st Century I in
1998 and Designing for the 21st Century II in 2000 (both held in the United States) as well as
the International Conference for Universal Design of Fall 2002 held in Yokohama, Japan.
tive Environments, a 25 year old USA
based NGO, continued in its role as primary Host
for the Conference. Centro de Vida Independente do Rio de Janeiro (CVI
Rio), the first
independent living center in Latin America, was the other Host Partner.

A signific
ant aim of the Designing for the 21st Century III conference was to act as a catalyst
for building understanding and collaboration between the developed and developing nations.
Brazil was chosen for the Conference site because it exemplifies economic dispa
rity, boasts
a variety of universal design experiments, is a "South" nation, and its capital city, Rio is an
attractive location for international conferences.

Why Brazil?

Brazil is the largest nation in Latin America with 182,032,604 people. Around 50
% of the
population accounts for just 10% of the national income

the internal economic disparities
parallel those of the world at large. The demographics are complex

from the fact that 47%
of Brazilians are of African descent to the fact that Brazil has th
e largest community of
Japanese outside of Japan. Within this huge geographical land mass more than 80% of
Brazilians live in urban areas.

The Conference planners also felt there is exciting potential for Brazil to model the national
integration of unive
rsal design. Innovative Brazilian leaders are shaping public policy and
finding ways to excite ordinary citizens about design
all. A new initiative on accessible
technology has been created out of President Lula's office. The city of Curitiba has creat
an international model of integration of sustainable and universal design in transportation
and urban design.

The following session descriptions are illustrative of the Conference content, with a focus on
technology and media, transportation, designer
s and leaders with disabilities, Japan and
Latin America.



Conference Workshops

Transport Highlights

Inclusive Design of Accessible Transport"
Public transportation that is designed for all
passengers, including people with disabilities, is sorely

needed in all corners of the world.
This workshop provided an overview of key elements of a truly universally designed transport
system, with presenters pointing out that there is more to true accessibility than just getting
on and off the vehicle. For ex
ample, public streets must be designed with curb cuts in order
for disabled passengers to be able to get to the transit station and then to their destination,
and traffic must be controlled near crosswalks at transit stations in order for passengers to
able to safely cross the street. Challenges for rural areas and for countries with restricted
public transit budgets were also addressed.

For transportation advocates from countries such as the U.S., where many hard
victories have led to accessibilit
y that can even sometimes be taken for granted, it is
extremely gratifying to see similar victories in other parts of the world. The pace of advances
in universally designed transportation is increasing, and advocates in distant parts of the
world can now
find many resources from their peers, making it easier to advocate for
change, to participate in the planning process and to find solutions and standards that can be
adapted for local use. In some countries such as Japan and Brazil, major legislative
atives have been adopted at the national level, calling for implementation of accessible
transit systems for the entire country. This opens the door for advocates to become involved
from the very beginning of the planning process, a key component of true u
niversal design.

A new trend in public transit across the globe is Bus Rapid Transit, which holds great
promise to bring universally designed transportation to many countries very soon. Bus Rapid
Transit, or BRT, combines some of the most attractive aspe
cts of subway, light rail and bus
systems into a new mode of public transportation. BRT uses on
road buses on fixed
routes, stopping at raised platform stations that are level with the entrance of the bus, which
is at the side of the vehicle and extra
wide to allow passengers to enter and exit quickly. The
passengers pay the fare when entering the station, like for the subway or light rail, making
wide fare integration possible. Using BRT, a city can achieve time efficiencies of light
rail or sub
ways at much less cost and time, improving the existing bus system. Dozens of
major cities in all continents are in various stages of implementing BRT. Universal design
features of BRT include low cost for passengers; intentional color schemes for stations

buses to convey basic use information for non
literate people, people who speak a different
language and people with cognitive disabilities; clear signage; space for wheelchair passage;
ramps instead of steps (often but not guaranteed); strong illumin
ation; cleanliness and
enhanced safety. The City of Coriciba, Brazil, was an early adopter of BRT, with ramped
tube stations that include many accessibility features.

The organizer of this workshop and first presenter was Tom Rickert, Executive Director
Access Exchange International, USA. He provided an overview of the basics of access to
transportation, making it clear that that are many elements to achieving the goal. Getting to a
transit stop involves access to streets and pathways, access to parkin
g spaces, and access
to bus stops, shelters and waiting areas. Getting on board includes access to buses, trains
and subways, vans and mini
buses for door
door service, and ramped taxi's. Advocacy
has played a key role in the advances that have been mad
e so far; legislation is usually


a global glimpse of the future


required first in order to affect purchases of new equipment and construction of new facilities,
as well as retrofits of existing stations and vehicles.


Two speakers from Brazil created real excitement at accompl
ishments so far and the
commitment at very high levels to achieve a national policy of accessibility to transportation.
Renato Boareto, Director of Urban Mobility of Brazil's National Secretary of Transport and
Urban Mobility described the policy framework

in Brazil. Brazil's Accessibility Program has
created a tool for cities and the state to assess the current state of accessibility of
transportation in 407 municipalities. In Brazil, 14.5% of the population has a disability
affecting access to transportat
ion. The country's goal is to identify and eliminate barriers
affecting people with mobility disabilities, sensorial disabilities, and mental or cultural
limitations (including illiterate and non
Portuguese speaking people) within the next ten
years. At th
e initial planning stages, many challenges exist, including the fact that 97% of
Brazil's public transportation is provided by private companies, which means that bus transit
is completely funded by passenger fares. Many stakeholders are involved in the pl
process, including organizations of people with disabilities.

Nazareno Stanislau, Executive Director of Brazil's National Public Transport Association,
electrified the audience with a compelling speech embracing the concept of universal design

recognizing the important role of persons with disabilities in transforming the quality
Brazil's mass transportation. Brazil's new legislation that requires an accessible system in
ten years was developed with the involvement of all the major stakeholders
, so he felt there
was a good chance that implementation will actually occur. He pointed out that people with
disabilities were previously regarded as a problem, but the new realization is that meeting
the needs of disabled people will improve the quality
of mass transit for everyone, adding
that "the attitudes and values of transport officials and the public in general will be radically
changed about people with disabilities."

A coalition called the National Forum for Urban Reform has a proposal that wou
ld combine
public transportation, universal design and environmental protection policy. Their specific
recommendations are (1) resources for public transportation should come from a tax on
gasoline, (2) reductions in fares for poor people, (3) acquisition
of a new family of vehicles for
buses, light rail and subways with universal design, and (4) support for workgroups of
citizens to develop programs for citizens to get around without cars. Brazil's transportation
reformers envision a safer mobility environ
ment for all through enhanced public transport.

40,000 people in Brazil are killed in vehicle related accidents every year. Under the
theme "Peace in Traffic," Stanislau called for universal design as an essential component of
designing cities for h
uman beings, and not for cars. Standards defining accessibility will be
issued in Brazil in a few months. In the next ten years, 110,000 mass transit vehicles will be
replaced with new ones that have lifts or low floors with ramps.


Yoshi Kawauchi
, author and universal design pioneer from Japan, was next to speak. In
Japan, the Transportation Accessibility Improvement Law 2000 will bring about sweeping
changes, also within a decade. This law requires facilities and rolling stock to become
e, and it establishes a framework for concentrated improvement of passenger
facilities, roads and stations in accord with a municipal transport plan. Each station and


nearby major facilities that are frequently used by aged or disabled people become the ba
for a designated route that must be accessible. Each local government is required to
establish a priority area plan with involvement from local transit agencies, police agencies
(for signage), agencies that are responsible for roads, and organizations
of persons with

The target of Japan's law is 10,000 stations, airports and bus/ferry terminals. The 3,700
public transit systems in Japan that serve more than 5,000 passengers a day are covered.
All must participate in developing the local
improvement priority areas. The deadline for
implementation is 2010; so far, 10% have reached the goal. Now, about 45% of facilities with
over 5,000 passengers a day have elevators, so there is a great deal of work yet to be done.
In addition to installing

elevators, facilities must also add guiding strips for blind and visually
impaired passengers, and wheelchair accessible restrooms. 30% of all trains have to be
accessible by 2010; all buses will be accessible by 2015, including 20

30% with low floors;
% of all ferries; and 40% of all passenger airplanes.

Accessibility features that are already designed or underway include ticket vending machines
that can be used by blind people, sound guides in stations for blind people, portable ramps
for breaching t
he gap between trains and the platform, gates on the platform to protect blind
people from falling when the train is not there, written and oral indicators of bus location and
time, visual displays for trains that indicate where the train is on its route a
nd also show the
locations of stairs and elevators in each station as it is reached, and visual displays on each
train indicating where accessible seats are located.

Japan's new commitment to universal design in mass transit will be quite a challenge to
implement. Millions of Japanese rely on an extremely complex and efficient system that has
up until now been mostly inaccessible. Many will be watching to see if these goals can be
reached without sacrificing the dependability and punctuality of the curren
t system. For
Japanese with disabilities, as well as for a significant aging population, these changes will be
life altering, opening up many new opportunities to create independent pathways within their
communities and beyond.

World Bank

Gerhard Menck
hoff, from the World Bank's Transport Sector, gave an in
depth talk about
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). For numerous cities across the world, BRT is an attractive
alternative to light rail or subway, delivering many of the advantages without the cost of
tracks or digging underground. For the emerging field of universal design, BRT also
offers many features that can expand the range of potential passengers and make mass
transit much safer and more attractive. Because resources can be focused on designing t
transit station, BRT is being executed in ways that make it more useable for people with
vision impairments, cognitive disabilities, mobility impairments, hearing impairments, limited
or no written language skills, unfamiliarity with the primary languag
e, and the general public
as well.

BRT has been put into operation in Curitiba, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; Leon de Guanajito,
Mexico; Quito, Equador; Djakarta, Indonesia; Kunming, China; Taipei; Ottowa, Canada;
Brisbane, Australia; and Pittsburgh, Boston,

Los Angeles, and Miami, U.S. Planning for BRT
is underway in Hanoi, Viet Nam; Delhi and Hyderabad, India; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania;


a global glimpse of the future


Akra, Turkey; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada, several Chinese cities, and Cleveland,
Hartford and New York City, U.S.

Accessibility of BRT for people with mobility disabilities is not guaranteed. Several systems
have built ramps or level entries at stations, but that is a local design decision. Transition
plates between the bus and platform can also be found in the statio
ns, but they are not
inherent to the design. For systems with no raised platforms, lifts are required on the buses.
Advocates present at the workshop discussed the need for ongoing work, even when
systems are designed to be accessible, to ensure maintenanc
e of accessibility features and
training of bus operators. One comment was that the disability advocacy network globally
should be fully informed about the significance of BRT and provided with detailed examples
of successful accessibility features in exis
ting systems in order to be effective in advocating
for accessibility and universal design of upcoming BRT systems.

Access to Mass Media

A Day of Media and Technology Access
This day
long pre
conference session focused on
the many existing and emerging

forms of media access such as captioning, audio description
and accessible web design. Universal Design to technology in Japan was also explored in

Larry Goldberg, Director of Media Access at WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston,
moderated the session and gave the first presentation. He covered access to
television, the movies, multimedia and the important role of advocacy in public policy related
to these issues. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission regulate
the television industry. Rules have been developed requiring closed captioning and audio
description of television programs, and the FCC has also issued new requirements regarding
captioning and digital TV. Similar requirements have been issued by the Ca
nadian Radio
and Television Commission, by the Office of Communications in the United Kingdom where
sign language interpreting is also required, and in Australia.

The conversion from analog to digital broadcasting in the U.S. began in 1998 and is
d to be complete by 2007. Digital broadcasting creates new challenges for closed
captioning and video description because new tools and standards must be developed for
their inclusion in digital programs. Standards are in development at several different s
setting bodies, and making sure that they will be followed is a significant challenge. The
Media Access Group at WGBH has a Digital TV Access Project (
) that
provides support to Public Bro
adcasting System member stations and the television industry
at large. Digital television was required to make captions available in 2002. There are no
current requirements regarding video description, although there is some voluntary
description available
. The DTV Access Project's goals are to maintain existing services of
closed captioning and to develop advanced services that will make captioning of new
programming easier and more expansive in capability. Digital television will give the viewer
more choi
ces regarding captioning display, such as fonts, font size, character color and
background color. New authoring systems for captioning are being developed. A random
survey of television stations that have converted to digital technology revealed that 1/3 h
all required methods of captioning in place, 1/3 had only one of two required modes, and 1/3
had none.



Some U.S. initiatives

Movies have been available for 100 years and are now finally accessible, to some extent,
through open and closed captioning
systems and audio descriptions. Open captions are
provided through different techniques in the movie industry. Closed captions are made
available through a Rear Window Captioning System that displays reversed captions on a
emitting diode (LED) text d
isplay which is mounted in the rear of a theater. Deaf and
hearing patrons use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the
captions so that they appear superimposed on the movie screen. The reflective panels are
portable and a
djustable, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the theater. More
information about Rear Window captioning is available at

Audio descriptions are also available in some thea
ters. Description conveys the key visual
aspects of a film or television program by describing scenery, facial expressions, costumes
during natural pauses in dialogue. Headsets that receive FM transmission of descriptions are
used to deliver audio descript

While some films are captioned and described, the movie studios are under no obligation to
include captions and descriptions in their films. The number of captioned and described films
is growing, though, nonetheless. The other major challenge in ge
tting accessible movies to
blind and deaf audience members is finding theaters that have installed the technology for
showing films that are accessible. A listing of U.S. theaters with such features can be found
at the mopix website:
. New digital movie
projectors operate like LED projectors but with many advanced features. They offer more
options for displaying captions, as well. Since they are quite new tech
nology, they are very
expensive and most movie theaters have not purchased them.

All of the technical advances in making TV and movies accessible have been implemented
because of effective advocacy by the deaf community and the blind community, with supp
from other disability organizations. Ongoing involvement at the policy level is necessary in
order to monitor and retain the existing legal requirements for TV access, including legal
challenges in court, and direct advocacy with movie studios and thea
ter chains is essential
for advancing the availability of movie accessibility.

Bob Regan, Product Manager for Accessibility at Macromedia in the U. S., went into detail
describing the web designer's perspective regarding access to the web. This presentat
was extremely useful because many disability and universal design advocates have a great
deal of experience with the user perspective, but often know very little about what motivates
web designers or what pressures they must respond to. He also explain
ed the new
challenges to accessibility that are emerging as web technology moves from HTML to Rich
Media and also as new screen readers become available.

Japan initiatives

In Japan, 25% of the population will be over 65 by 2015. 50% of the adult popula
tion will be
over 50 years old by 2005. This group represents over half of tax payers, voters and
consumers with money, time and a desire to learn. Many have multiple mild disabilities
affecting their ability to use technology. On the other hand, most of t
he designers in IT
companies are in their 20's or 30's and lack experience with many social realities. UDIT


a global glimpse of the future


bridges the gap between developers and users, and much more effort towards this goal has
been realized.

The concept of Universal Design addresses
this problem. Through designing technology with
users in mind, products can be more useable for people with different ages, genders, abilities
and physical attributes. The International Association for Universal Design is a consortium of
over 130 companies

in Japan that have begun to implement Universal Design in many
different ways. (More about IAUD's half
day session at the conference later in this report.)
Universal Design can well become a keyword for the 21st century, as important to society as

Chika Sekine, President of Universal Design Institute for Information Technology (UDIT),
Japan, described her business which connects hundreds of users with disabilities and other
nontraditional users of technology with companies in Japan for in
user review of
products from a broad accessibility perspective. Over 200 teleworkers are connected to
UDIT, ranging in age from 17 to 87, many with different disabilities or with connections to
disability. They evaluate Information Technology devices and p
ropose improvements from
the point of view of diverse users.

She summarized the results of research recently conducted in Japan about the amount of
effort that major companies are dedicating to universal design, and also measuring the
general public's re
ceptivity to the idea of universal design. This research is reported in a
special issue of "Nikkei Design" dedicated to Universal Design from June, 2004. Over 400
employees in 122 companies hold jobs dedicated to implementation of Universal Design.
About 6
0% of managers in Japanese companies include Universal Design as one of their
business objectives, and the number of Universal Design officers increased from 25% in
2003 to 40% in 2004. 79% of companies conduct user surveys, and 80% interview a wide
of users from the beginning of the product development process.

The highest ranking companies in Universal Design activity are Toto, Toyota, Matsushita and
Hitachi. Japan is eclipsing other countries in adopting universal design as a major corporate
iative, and the general public is also more aware and supportive of the concept. In a
survey of the general public, 24.8% of respondents were familiar with the concept but didn't
understand its meaning well, and 31% were familiar with both the concept and
understood its
meaning. Over 90% felt that Universal Design is an important goal for companies, and over
15% felt that it should be mandatory. 88% felt that a company's brand image would be
improved by adoption of Universal Design, and a majority of all, e
ven those in their twenties,
would select a product with Universal Design features over a less expensive item.

Public policy in Japan is also following this trend. In December 2003, the government
adopted a basic plan for disabilities that promotes Japan
ese accessibility standards and
procurement of products that comply with the standards. In May and June of 2004, formal
standards regarding accessibility of Information and communications equipment, software
and services, and also web content were adopted.

A set of standards on office and
telecommunications equipment will be adopted in the near future.

Research on Universal Design has been conducted through a collaboration of Hitachi, Keio
University, the University of Tokyo, the Tokyo Institute of Techno
logy, and UDIT. This team
of organizations has investigated possible new applications of information technology with a
particular emphasis on promotion of a ubiquitous information society.



UDIT publishes information and reports on these developments and
challenges at

Web Access

As the "Accessibility Champion" at Macromedia, Bob Regan interacts with web designers
about web access on a regular basis. He has found that w
eb designers are by nature visually
oriented, since they are graphic designers, and therefore they have a very difficult time
understanding that websites can be made accessible to people who have vision impairments
and are not used to communicating informa
tion verbally rather than through graphics.
Learning about web access takes web designers out of their technical area of expertise, and
therefore makes them uncomfortable. They also are often unaware of the difficulties of taking
in information with one's
ears rather than one's eyes.

Regan requires web designers who work under his supervision to use a screen reader for 30
minutes a day for at least three weeks in order to gain a working sensitivity to obtaining
information orally. Noting that it takes a n
ewly blind person nine months of rehabilitation to
learn how to perceive through hearing, he reinforces his message that using the web with a
screen reader can't be learned overnight. It can take approximately an extra 10% time to
design a website so that
it's really accessible once a designer has learned the skill of using a
screen reader; otherwise, web design costs might even be doubled if the designer has no
working familiarity with how a blind person interacts with websites using a screen reader. For
xample, with a screen reader, using a mouse is irrelevant, since you have to be able to see
the cursor to use a mouse. Blind people navigate through a website using the keyboard.
Most web designers can't imagine using a computer without the mouse.

s web access standards are most relevant for web sites designed using HTML, a web
design programming language. Newer web design tools, such as FLASH, will be easier to
make accessible according to standards for web access that are under development now.
, in other words, web access standards have fallen behind the newest web design tools,
and web designers will have an easier time with web access once the new standards are

Case studies

Regan presented a case study of web design and web acces
s. The San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art came to him after their web site had been built for help to make it accessible.
He first asked them to strip out all the graphics and audio from their site, so that they had
only text to work with to map out the st
ructure of their site. This way of looking at their web
site revealed that it was poorly designed for all users because it took a long time to get to the
actual content on the site. The re
design for accessibility resulted in a website that would
work bett
er for everyone. The Museum's web site also used audio that automatically played
when a user came to some web pages; the accessibility analysis revealed that this audio
interfered with the output of the screen reader used by a blind user. One hopeful aspec
t of
new web tools such as FLASH is that it can detect the presence of a screen reader and can
be programmed to turn off the audio and only play it when an audio button is pushed by the



a global glimpse of the future


The future of web access will be made much more complicated by

multiple platforms for
computer web use (Windows, Apple, LINUX) and multiple screen readers that will be used.
Blind users are expected to migrate over to screen readers that will be built into new Apple
computers and into LINUX as well. In addition, Mozi
lla (a popular web browser) will soon be
accessible, and so there will be multiple web browsers in use among blind users as well.

European Approach

A Universal Design Mentality and Culture in Development: Process and Dynamics in Europe

Four presenter
s from the field of architecture provided a view of Universal Design as it plays
out in Europe. From the policy level to the local building design level, Europe can be
regarded as a single entity, the European Union, and it can also be understood as severa
different countries, each with its own culture and history regarding both design and policies
regarding persons with disabilities. Since the economic conditions and culture are
comparable to the U.S., Europe can be contrasted with American policies and p
ractices. The
Americans with Disabilities Act has been inspirational to Europe, however there are real
differences that affect how Universal Design is applied. Europeans are more used to a
service model of disability, as opposed to the ADA's legal rights a
pproach with a complaints
basis of enforcement. Americans have developed a system that embraces the social model
of disability, which strives to treat disability as a normal status and seeks to achieve macro
solutions. European disability policy, although
it is really still disparate policies in various
countries, is still more based on the medical model, which seeks solutions at the micro level,
or with the individual with a disability.

The first speaker, Hubert Froyen, Professor of Architecture, PHI, Be
lgium, made several
general observations about Europe in general. He portrayed Post War Europe as in a
process of change away from its deeply hierarchical sociopolitical institutions to a more
egalitarian structure. Under the new European Union (E.U.), con
cepts of non
are taking hold, along with a rising general standard of living, although there are still gaps
between rich and poor, especially in Eastern Europe. The Nordic countries have a long
history of respect for human rights and equalit
y of opportunity for all. The middle countries of
Western Europe tend to put fewer resources into social services and take a more
paternalistic attitude. The southern countries make even fewer social investments, although
there are some new projects and in
itiatives to the contrary. Countries in Central Europe have
a great deal of catching up to do, and there are some innovative approaches emerging in the
communist era. His own experience has led him to believe that it is very important for
physical acc
ess to come first, serving to open the door for new technical and economic
approaches to disability to develop. "Disability leads to a particular perception of the world,"
he stated. "Collaboration between disabled and non
disabled people yields counter
homogenous trends. Especially for the younger generation, which is very open minded when
it comes to concepts of Universal Design and new ways of looking at disability, there is great
enthusiasm for developing new projects together between disabled an
d non


Hans Von Axelson, from the National Accessibility Centre, Office of the Disability
Ombudsman in Sweden, started with a strong statement. "The Swedish in general believe


they are the best in disability policy. But their na
tional arrogance keeps them from seeing the
segregation of persons with disabilities that still exists." There are well designed accessibility
tools but poor accessibility of common products. Despite the fact that Sweden has an
ambitious welfare system, pe
ople with disabilities still experience many barriers to society.
Disability policy still focuses on individual needs.

In May 2000, Sweden enacted national legislation based on the concept of full participation
of persons with disabilities in all sectors

of society. All areas of government are required to
integrate a disability perspective into their activities. The National Accessibility Centre
coordinates all sector authorities, developes guidelines and sets priorities for implementation
of Universal De
sign as the legislation is followed. By 2015, there will be many Swedes over
80, and a Universal Design approach will best meet their needs. The National Accessibility
Centre will work towards incorporating an anti
discrimination capacity into the social p
regarding disability.


Luigi Biocca, a Researcher and Architect with the Construction Technologies Institute at the
National Research Council in Italy provided a specific example of how Universal Design
principles are being applied in low
come public housing, where units are small and present
interesting challenges to the goal of accessibility. Pointing out that strict adherence to
building codes can sometimes restrict creative solutions from being developed, he expressed
support for the ne
w performance based approach that has been recently adopted in parts of
Europe. As an example, he showed a blueprint of a very small apartment unit that solves the
problem of access to a very small bathroom space by placing the bathroom in a hallway that
as doors that can be closed at both ends. The bathroom has a sliding door that can be
opened when the hallway doors are closed, in effect expanding the available space for a
wheelchair user. Further information about this example, the "User Friendly House"

can be
found at

United Kingdom

Marcus Ormerod, a Researcher with SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre at the
University of Salford, U.K., led with an attention
statement, "Even if you are on the
right track, if you stand still, you will get hit by the train." Since passage of the Disability
Discrimination Act in 1995, there has been a great deal of activity leading to Universal
Design in Great Britain. Standards
and building codes have been established, and legislation
calling for "lifetime homes" that can be adapted to the person as disabilities are acquired has
been passed. All of this in spite of the fact that Britain is not used to the concept of human
in public policy.

Ormerod stated that master planning is where Universal Design should first be applied and
gave examples of layouts of towns with and without good Universal Design planning. Those
with good design had taken into account the location of m
ajor areas of a town, how people
can move about easily, and where frequently used areas are situated in relation to each
other. He advocated for the appointment of an Inclusive Design Champion as a part of a
Master Plan team, with access consultants brough
t in and with strong user participation.

The session ended with a visionary statement: "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity

Design, or Design for All, as a utopian construct, deeply rooted in human rights, echoes this


a global glimpse of the future


motto of the French Revolutio
n, and by virtue of its "unattainability" entails a constant need
for regeneration in mentality and in culture, in dynamics and in processes, in ethics and in

Workshop: Disability Leaders Working from the Inside Out

An international array of d
isability activists now working inside government to achieve
Universal Design goals provided lessons from their own experiences, demonstrating that
significant accomplishments can be realized working from the "inside". Each presenter
began their career in
accessibility working as activists, learning how to influence public policy
and how to develop programs from outside government. As each person became more
successful as an activist and community leader, the opportunity arose to take a position with
icant responsibility for disability policy within government. Often, this new possibility
came about because of a shift in the political leadership in the country or the local authority,
accompanied by a commitment from the newly elected leader to make mea
ningful change
for persons with disabilities. The disability activist and leader may have been involved in the
political campaign that brought the new government to power, and during the campaign,
succeeded in bringing disability issues into the campaign.
The new government then became
interested in fulfilling these campaign promises, and the disability activist was invited to join
the new government to take on this challenge.


Taide Buenfil now works in the Office for the Promotion of the Inclusi
on of Persons with
Disabilities in the Office of the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox. She is an architect and as
an expert in accessibility, she works with every Ministry within the government of Mexico to
make sure that each program within every Ministry

is reaching and including people with
disabilities, as appropriate. Her office recognizes that disability is a factor in all facets of
government, working through laws, regulations, and standards at all levels of government.
The Office for the Promotion o
f the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities has visible support
from the President, which makes it easier for her to implement its mission. There are also
people with disabilities in the President's Cabinet.

Contrasting her current work with her previou
s role as an activist within an NGO, Ms. Buenfil
acknowledged that the pace of reform within government can be frustrating. Processes have
to be followed, and as an "insider", she must be more restrained than an activist working
outside of the system, who
can be more critical of government agencies. Budget shortfalls
also can slow the pace of change. Disability activists working outside of government and
those working within government must work together, which is how she functions. Because
she has worked f
rom the NGO position, Ms. Buenfil can avoid the appearance of
paternalism, and this strengthens her ability to work in partnership with NGO activists.


Edison Passafaro, now Executive Director of the Municipal Council of Persons with

in Sao Paulo, Brazil, became a disability activist after he became disabled as a
young adult and experienced the stigma of disability and widespread lack of accessibility in
Brazil. He founded the second Independent Living Center in Brazil, in Sao Paulo a
nd also
started a business selling hand controls for automobiles and other kinds of assistive


technology. After Edison and other activists succeeded in getting a local ordinance on
accessibility passed, the City of Sao Paulo established the Municipal Counc
il of Persons with
Disabilities. He became its first Executive Director.

Because the Council has enough of a budget to hire employees, it has been very effective.
The Council and its staff developed a plan, "Sao Paulo without Barriers", which adopted
nciples of Universal Design and has broad authority to create access. The first stage is to
eliminate barriers to the built environment and to apply Universal Design to the construction
of new buildings. The plan coined a new phrase, "Accessible Urban Mobi
lity", which applies
to all citizens in many realms: public housing, streets and sidewalks, transportation, public
buildings and communication. It includes economic goals for persons with disabilities, with
steps leading to economic self
sufficiency, payin
g taxes and consuming goods. The work of
Sao Paulo has become a model for the country, and other cities in Brazil are following this

International Association for Universal Design:

best practices in Japan

A special half
day session was coordi
nated by the International Association for Universal
Design (IAUD), an organization that was founded after the 2002 International Conference for
Universal Design in Japan. The IAUD has 130 corporate members in Japan from a wide
variety of industries. Becau
se Japan has a rapidly aging population, the concept of Universal
Design has taken hold with more strength than in any other country. Already, approximately
40% of the population in Japan could benefit from increased accessibility, taking into account
boomers aged 50 or older who experience functional limitations and also people with
disabilities who are younger.

IAUD recognizes that the rapid development of technical innovation has created
unnecessary barriers, and that many more people can benefit
from Universal Design, not just
seniors and persons with disabilities, including children, pregnant women, foreigners with
different native languages and lifestyles. According to IAUD's prospectus, "We must create
products for a society where there is no n
eed to feel inconveniences because of the
differences in age, sex, race or one's abilities".

IAUD advances the concept and practice of Universal Design in Japan, and also promotes it
worldwide. Through popularization of the idea and through implementing
it and placing more
accessible products into the marketplace, IAUD hopes to revitalize Japan's stagnant
economy and to improve living conditions for people across the world. IAUD operates with a
permanent staff on several levels: through planning seminars
and lectures, establishing
Universal Design vision and targets for the organization, establishing standards and
guidelines, developing individual projects through collaboration between companies and
providing assistance to members, through holding Universa
l Design events such as
conferences and exhibitions, and through publications and managing a website. Dialogue
with consumers is at the core of all IAUD activities.

Introducing the session, Kazuo Toda, Executive Vice President of Matsushita Electrical Co
and Chairman of the Council of IAUD, read a statement of welcome and support from Prince
Tomohito, Patron of IAUD. In IAUD's brochure, Prince Tomohito says, "No one is 100%


a global glimpse of the future


disabled. And no one is 100% healthy. Everyone has disabilities in some part of h
is or her
body (or mind), and has healthy parts at the same time. Universal design lets everyone lead
more affluent and comfortable lives."

Naotsune Hosono from Oki Electric gave an overview of Oki's approach to Universal Design.
Oki Electric produces eq
uipment used in connection with information and
telecommunications systems such as ATM's and ticketing machines. Their company vision is
of an "E
Society" that allows people to function without limitations of time and space.
Universal Design is an essentia
l method for improving service to their customers. They follow
the JIS standard 8341 Part 1, relating to accessibility for persons with disabilities and older
persons to information processing and web content. They seek out user involvement and
feedback in

all stages of the design process. As an example, they manufacture an ATM with
tactile symbols and a touch screen that is designed with blind people and people with
mobility limitations in mind.

Yoshide Yano from Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru automobiles
) described steps taken by
Fuji to apply principles of Universal Design to the workplace. In 1997, the Japanese
government raised the employment quota for persons with disabilities from 1.6% to 1.8% and
toughened the enforcement of this requirement that pe
ople with disabilities must be part of
every company's workforce. Companies were given two ways to comply, either by setting
a separate subsidiary where workers with disabilities are employed or integrating them into
the existing workforce. Most compani
es in Japan favor the separate subsidiary approach,
which is consistent with the segregation that is still found throughout Japan. Fuji, however,
decided to bring persons with disabilities into the workforce, reasoning that this approach is
more realistic
because of changing demographics throughout Japan that are expanding the
diversity of the workforce in general: the aging of the population and more women in the
workplace. Since Fuji's manufacturing facilities use heavy duty, high speed assembly lines,
ny of their workers experienced barriers at work, even short or tall workers. By modifying
the workplace so that people with disabilities can work there, Fuji made it easier for many
different employees as well.

Fuji created barrier free work areas and b
free pathways throughout their facilities,
including the covered parking area and the locker room (where there are a variety of heights
to the lockers now, since not all disabled people need the same height). They developed a
designed pa
rts carrier that all employees can use, a universally
pressing machine, a universally
designed quality check lamp, and a new system for opening
the cargo bays. As a result, Fuji has found that the workplace is safer and more efficient for
all work
ers, and product quality has improved.

Workers with disabilities are continuously surveyed to identify additional barriers. After the
physical and communication barriers were addressed, attitudinal barriers came next. Some
of the workers with disabilitie
s, especially deaf workers, complained that they felt
marginalized socially. A support system was developed to bridge the gap between disabled
and non
disabled workers, and sign language classes were offered. The sign language class
for supervisors is mand
atory and is taught by deaf workers. The optional class, which is
offered to all other employees, is always full even though the workers must pay for it
themselves. These measures have improved the morale of the entire plant. The human
resources personnel
who have initiated these steps have also learned to respect the ability
of workers with disabilities to take on new challenges, even if this sometimes means that
their primary job is to get out of the way. Future goals include equal opportunity to worker


raining for employees with disabilities, especially deaf people, and increasing the sensitivity
at the workplace to deaf culture and communication.

Kei Tomioka from Toshiba's Human Centered Design Group provided an example of how
Universal Design is appl
ied at Toshiba with respect to the development of accessible cell
phones. Several steps are followed:

Understand and specify the context of use

Specify the user and organizational requirements

Produce design solutions

Evaluate the designs against the u
ser requirements

Prototype is developed

User interviews and focus groups

For cell phones, users with disabilities identified several areas of need: key pad design,
phone size, and audio feedback during use. Performance testing and useability testing we
also conducted with users with disabilities to assess different solutions that were developed.
During a product interactive focus group on keypad design, key height and key shape were
reviewed. For the audio feedback needs, twenty different features wer
e identified as
potentially useful. Users were asked to rate the necessity for each item in order to prioritize
these features and determine which ones to include. Not all could be included within the
limited memory capability of the phones. The actual pro
duct that resulted from this process,
VM 4050, is now on the U.S. market.

Hitoshi Kanamori and Kenji Misugi from Toyota Vehicle Engineering Division gave a wide
ranging presentation on Toyota's accomplishments in Universal Design. Toyota's goals are
to m
inimize their automobiles' impact on the environment and to maximize their safety and
comfort and fun using Universal Design. They have designed an ergonomic index which
takes into consideration different body sizes and capabilities. It includes 180 items
evaluate, and rating scores are given for each one. For example, ease of ingress and egress
are evaluated for different configurations of legs, waist and head/shoulders. Visibility of
gauges, meters and indicators are scored for all age groups. Weightin
g factors for each item
include tolerance for error, physical effort, easy to understand and user perception of

The Toyota situational suitability index is another method for evaluating different car designs
from a user perspective. 500 items ar
e included in a database of usage situations. 30 items
are selected for each vehicle, and the different situations are ranked for the functions of
specific tasks within that situation. For example, one situation is putting a child into a seat in
the rear o
f the car, or another is putting a wheelchair in the area behind the front seat. User
feedback is obtained through interviews, questionnaires, and in
vehicle dynamic research.

The Raum, a model sold in Japan, was developed with specific user groups in mi
nd: older
people, children, care providers and people with limited mobility. User reviews were
conducted with people from these groups repeatedly, with specific attention to wheelchair
users and passengers with guide dogs. The height of the door handles wa
s specifically
tested for wheelchair users and children. Inside the vehicle, there are several handles for a
wheelchair user to grab to assist in transferring to either the front or rear seats. The seats
also swivel 90 degrees to the side of the car for ea
se of use by people with limited mobility.


a global glimpse of the future


The Porte, another Japanese model, was tested for ease of shopping with a baby and for
wheelchair use. It's advertised as a "Smart Life Supporter". Features include sliding doors, a
low flat floor, and a lift
up f
olding seat that can provide space for a wheelchair. In the future,
Toyota will offer smaller cars that work well for wheelchair use, including features such as
lifts and ramps.

Yasuaki Takamoto from Fujitsu reviewed a wide variety of accomplishments in
Universal Design to ATM's, cell phones, web access, and customer service. The "Raku
Raku" cell phone was designed for older people and people with vision impairments, as well
as the general market. It has simple, easy
use features including one
touch dialing for pre
set numbers, a blinking button to indicate ringing and large buttons. The Fujitsu computer
opens and closes easily, has a large touch pad, a comfortable keyboard, large fonts and
opens popular software programs with one button.

itsu's ATM's are designed for easy use by people with mobility disabilities, including a
round indentation along the side for a wheelchair wheel, allowing a wheelchair user to get
close. It includes a phone handset for blind users, and offers screen guidan
ce for novice
ATM users or people with limited attention. Fujitsu has adopted internal accessibility
guidelines for its website based on guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium and the
Japanese JIS standard. Fujitsu also offers web designers an onlin
e tool that is an access
checker, "Web Inspector", a tool called "Color Selector" that checks on color usage in web
sites for accessibility for people who are color blind or have cataracts. "Color Doctor"
displays a simulation of how objects in a website o
r other graphics based document appear
to someone who is color blind. These tools are available online at

Toyoyuki Vematsu of Panasonic D
esign Company (Matsushita) described how the founder
of Matsushita announced a company policy on Universal Design as early as 1942.
Matsushita developed principles of Universal Design in the mid 1990's, and in 2002 at the
International Conference on Univer
sal Design in Japan, the company's President issued a
major directive on Universal Design. Matsushita has introduced several products based on
these principles:

a personal fax with large buttons, pre
recorded user instructions and extra loud

a re
mote control for heating and air conditioning systems with a large LCD screen
with oversize characters, a voice recognition interface, and concave buttons for
persons with limited dexterity;

an LED neck light that can be used hands
free, a one
handed swit
ch, and very

a built
in shower seat that includes a remote control and is designed for a wheelchair
user; and

a microwave oven with large characters in a white backlight LCD and large easy
use buttons and high
contrast text display.

October, 2004, Matsushita opened two Universal Design Labs in Tokyo, one that is open
to the public. The company has a Universal Design Committee that is responsible for
creating user friendly products.



Audience members were quite impressed with the larg
e number of companies in Japan that
are involved in IAUD, and also excited by the many examples of products that are available.
Many companies in Japan are responding to the challenge of an aging population with a
rigorous engineering and design approach t
hat will benefit countless numbers of consumers.
Many felt that it is critical for companies in other countries, as well as policy makers, to
understand how much has been accomplished in Japan.

Designers with Disabilities: access design professionals,
portunities for artists with disabilities

This session was moderated by Kristin Schneider of Adaptive Environments, the host
organization of the conference. She described a project of Adaptive Environments, inspired
by the life of Ron Mace, the father of

Universal Design, an architect with a disability. The
project, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, has resulted in an international
network of designers with disabilities. Activities have included research with designers with
disabilities world
wide, the development of the international network, setting up an e
mentoring system, participation in Career Days given by the Boston Society of Architects
(making these events more accessible in the process), and conducting a survey of design
schools in
the United States. The NEC Foundation of America supported the development of
a book, "Building a World Fit for People", a portrait of 21 designers with disabilities, which is
available online at

The initial concept has now been expanded through work with the Association of Collegiate
Schools of Architecture and the American Institute on Architecture's Diversity Committee,
which has expanded its definition of diversity to include disab
ility. One of the project's current
goals is for the accreditation of schools of architecture to include criteria related to disability
and universal design. It is also currently training vocational rehabilitation counselors about
careers in design. Traini
ng materials can be found at
. Kristin
Schneider then introduced several designers with disabilities who belong to the network.

Jorge Falcato, an architect from Spain, described his m
any projects and accomplishments in
advocating for accessibility standards and requirements and in work on specific buildings
and facilities. He warned that designers with disabilities can sometimes find themselves
being used by politicians to give the imp
ression that they are more committed to accessibility
than is the reality. He also reminded the audience that just because the architect uses a
wheelchair, it is easy to forget that not all persons with disabilities use a wheelchair, and
accessible design
must be broader than that.

Taide Buenfil, an architect from Mexico who now works in the Office of the President
engaged in broad advocacy work, became disabled as a student of architecture. Her school
had nothing to offer related to disability, and she b
ecame involved in grass roots advocacy.
With many accomplishments, including eventually teaching a course on disability and
accessibility at the same University, she advised the audience to have ambitious goals and
work in collaboration with other people w
ith disabilities.

Regina Cohen, an architect and urbanist with the Pro Access Group in Rio de Janeiro,
became disabled after leaving school and practicing for several years as an architect,
oblivious to disability. Once she experienced the barriers and d
ifficulties created by other


a global glimpse of the future


architects, she dedicated her work to accessibility, working through the Independent Living
Center in Rio. The Pro Access Group is a research center at the Federal University of Rio.
There, she engages in research, teaching and

extensive projects. She has seen huge
changes over the course of her career, and finds political activism an exciting endeavor.

Sylvana Cambighi is an architect from Sao Paulo, Brazil who was born with her disability.
Her background was different from t
he other panelists, and much of her success is because
her family involved her in all activities and supported her in many ways. After she graduated
from a regular high school, her father enrolled her in a technical school for industrial
designers. She wen
t on from there to architecture school, even though her classmates
carried her up three flights of stairs every day. She started her own practice out of
architecture school and found herself working on accessibility projects and then went to work
for the c
ity. She has worked on developing accessibility guidelines with the Municipal Council
on Disability, and is now also teaching at the University.

Yoshi Kawauchi is a licensed architect in Japan who decided to become an advocate after
ten years of design w
ork. He finds that designers in Japan often don't respect or consider the
needs of end users. He believes that professional designers and users need to work together
more, and much of his work is involved in building a bridge between the two groups. He
ds educational workshops for local activists and local government officials where the
participants are actively engaged in practicing universal design. Universal Design should be
an endless process of continuous improvements, a spiral up process that cente
rs on users.

The workshops and conference sessions described above are a small sample of the many
different topics covered and exemplary presenters from all over the world. There is no doubt
that Universal Design is a concept that will have a significant

influence in the 21st century.
The progress that has been made in many countries in a relatively short period of time is
truly exciting. The business world is familiar with important trends that have come from
Japan. Therefore, it is very important to see

Universal Design becoming a publicly
recognized idea there, with many large companies actively introducing new products with
Universal Design features. Universal Design could become as widely adopted by businesses
as the Total Quality Movement of the 1980

The website for the conference is at
. The conference
organizers have promised that they will post the electronic versions of many of the
conference presentations in the near f

Conclusions: Where is Universal Design Going?

As an American, it is exciting for me to see so many major advances in Universal Design and
accessibility occurring in so many other countries and regions. Japanese public policy,
corporate practices

and public opinion are all responding to the Universal Design movement,
and much more can be expected. I would not be surprised if Universal Design became a
major business innovation coming from Japan and influencing how business is done in the
West. This

would be a fantastic contribution that the Japanese could be very proud of.

The European Union and Latin America are also regions that should be watched for
innovative approaches to Universal Design and accessibility. In Europe, the movement to go
d standards for accessibility and to adopt a functional assessment approach is very


interesting. It could yield very creative new practices and solutions to eliminating barriers,
especially in an environment that is full of historic structures. The fear, h
owever, is that
meaningful measures to the new approaches might not always be used. The reason for very
detailed standards and building codes is that the average designer and builder is too far
removed from the daily realities of living with a disability,
and accessibility solutions that
appear promising at first blush might not really deliver the increased function and
accessibility that people with many different disabilities should expect. The end result could
be designs and new construction that have a
Universal Design or "accessibility" label but
actually impose unforeseen barriers.

Brazil currently has a disability
friendly national government, and has developed some very
successful disabled activists, designers and government employees. Despite a st
poverty rate, meaningful changes are taking place, and much more is in the planning stages.
It is encouraging to hear elected leaders talk about Universal Design and accessibility as a
strategy for improving the lives of all Brazilians. With very
innovative approaches such as the
accessible public transportation system in Curitiba to serve as an example, Brazil could play
a pivotal role in leading "the South" forward.

It is also stirring to have met so many successful and capable disability activ
ists, architects
and designers, and leaders who are actively engaged in making Universal Design a reality all
over the world. Anyone from the United States or Europe who believes that the developed
world or the West are ahead of the rest of the world in th
is front should think again. Thanks
to the talents and dedication of numerous disability activists, in many different roles, this field
will be an arena where we all will have much to learn from each other for a long time.



a global glimpse of the future




Latin Americans Adopt

Rio C
harter for Universal Design

Having met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 12, 2004, in the International Conference
on Universal Design, "Designing for the 21st Century," as women and men from various
countries in Latin America, including professio
nals, representatives of NGOs and various
sectors of civil society, universities, employees of government institutions, and international
and multilateral agencies, we hereby agree to the following declaration:


The purpose of
Universal Design
is to serve

needs and make possible social
participation and access to goods and services by the widest possible range of
users, contributing to both the inclusion of persons who have been prevented from
interacting in society and to their development. Examples of su
ch groups include:
poor persons, persons marginalized for reasons of culture, race, or ethnicity, persons
with different types of disabilities, very obese persons and pregnant women, very tall
or very short persons, including children, and all those who fo
r different reasons have
been excluded from social participation.


We conceive of
Universal Design
as generating accessible environments, services,
programs, and technologies that are equitably, safely, and autonomously usable by
all individuals

to the wi
dest extent possible

without having to be specifically
adapted or readapted, based on the seven underlying principles, as follows:

Equitable Use (for persons with diverse abilities);

Flexibility in Use (by persons with a wide range of preferences and abi

Simple and Intuitive (easy to understand);

Perceptible Information (communicates necessary information effectively)

Tolerance for Error (minimizes hazards of unintended actions);

Low Physical Effort; and

Size and Space for Approach and Use