he ACCESS 2017 conference was hosted by the Association of Consultants in Access Australia (ACAA) and held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on 18-20 October. We were fortunate to be able to attend the conference to meet Access Consultants from around Australia and further afield, and listen to a variety of speakers over three action-packed days.
While the weather was uncharacteristically rainy at South Bank, the mood wasn’t to be dampened at ACCESS 2017 with the conference topic, Accessible Wayfinding Experiences – Events & Destinations. Are we there yet? delivering up a vast array of information, perspectives, and debate amongst experts in the emerging and constantly evolving area of Wayfinding.
Wayfinding – “The process or activity of ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route” (English Oxford Living Dictionaries)
– is a topic that, ironically, can be difficult to navigate. Some aspects of Wayfinding, such as signage for sanitary facilities, hearing augmentation, car parking, and directional signage for accessible paths of travel as well as tactile ground surface indicators and luminance contrast, are governed by the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards, National Construction Code (BCA), and Australian Standards. However, as we heard at ACCESS 2017, there is much more to Wayfinding, with new ideas and technologies emerging at a rapid pace. One of the many challenges of Wayfinding is in incorporating cues and assistive technologies into the built environment that are as simple and intuitive as possible yet are inclusive enough to benefit everyone, including people who are blind or have low vision, people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, people with dementia, people with intellectual disabilities, wheelchair users, and people with ambulant disabilities. Not every smartphone app or every sign is going to suit every user all the time and the Wayfinding of the future, is likely to fuse high- and low-tech solutions to face this challenge. Speakers at ACCESS 2017 suggested many different approaches to Wayfinding, and emphasised the importance of collaboration between different professions in arriving at the best outcomes for each project.
Another focus at ACCESS 2017, was the provision of access for people with disabilities to events and facilities for the upcoming Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. From ticket sales to transport, seating to the athlete’s village, there are a myriad of factors to consider to ensure that a person with a disability and their family, friends and carers have the best possible experience at a major sporting event such as this. For those of us who had the opportunity to visit The Sleeman Centre Anna Meares Velodrome, it was amazing to see such a unique, world-class sporting facility up close and even walk on some parts of the track (without shoes)!
To read more about the Gold Coast 2018 Accessible Ticketing Policy, click here: https://www.gc2018.com/tickets/accessible-ticketing
To read more about the inclusion of Livable Housing design features in the Parklands Project, which will accommodate athletes during the games and then transition to become permanent rental accommodation in the future, click here: http://www.livablehousingaustralia.org.au/projects/%7Bp%7D/projectdetail.aspx?id=1005
To watch a time-lapse video below of the velodrome construction, including the laying of the bespoke Siberian Pine track surface.