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Where does accessibility go in the twenty first century?

Tyler, N; (2010) Where does accessibility go in the twenty first century? In: (Proceedings) 12 International Conference on Transport for Elderly and Disabled People 2010.

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This paper presents some challenges which have been derived from collating the conclusions of a number of studies undertaken by the Accessibility Research Group over a number of years. The concentrated multidisciplinary mix in both theoretical and practical work of the ARG has enabled us to see where the history of accessibility is both a help and a hindrance to further progress. The main underlying principle of the work reported in the paper is that it may be necessary to change some fundamental principles of accessibility in order to progress further in both countries where such work is already advanced and in those where it is yet to happen. Approach The paper presents a reasoned argument supported by evidence from a number of studies involving older and disabled people, infrastructure design, vehicle design, cognitive and sensory issues to generate thought about what the future holds for accessibility, in both research and application. Results or Expected Results There are three strands to the review of these studies. First, it is clear that single directed approaches to design guidelines are unlikely to provide the best benefits for older and disabled people. The differences between their needs are far more complex than such simple rules consider and are often affected negatively by the attempts to make compromises. Secondly, it is really important to consider the capabilities of the individual and not just the inability of the environment to accommodate people when determining what to do in accessibility policy and application. Thirdly, there are immense opportunities with new technology that could assist in this complex problem. The age of ‘special’ design of vehicles or infrastructure are numbered – the advent of computerised manufacture means that different designs can be made as cheaply as the standard design from which they are derived, whether this is in terms of vehicles, infrastructure or household objects. This allows the person to have equipment designed especially for them without the need for a premium price. The fourth issue is that developing countries have a big opportunity. As with some other technologies – telecommunications is a good example – they have the opportunity to leap over the restraints which have been imposed in countries such as the USA, Japan and Europe and pass directly to an accessible society. Solutions developed for the UK or USA are unlikely to be either appropriate or necessary in this new situation and we all need to work out how to make that opportunity achievable. Conclusion The conclusion of this paper is that there is a strong emphasis on the individual in accessibility design and we need to ensure that all parties – disabled people, carers, technicians, researchers, manufacturers and politicians rise to the right challenge of how to make accessibility work. Recent research points to the ways in which the differences between people can be understood and this can drive the ‘individualisation’ of accessibility so that people really can do what they wish to do. The twenty first century offers great opportunities and we need to grasp these in the most effective way possible.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Where does accessibility go in the twenty first century?
Event: 12 International Conference on Transport for Elderly and Disabled People 2010
Location: Hong Kong
Dates: 02 June 2010 - 04 June 2010
Keywords: Accessibility
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/97525
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