Opened in 2015, the Mary Free Bed YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, is a state-of-the-art fitness facility designed using the principles of Universal Design (UD). Its design furthers accessibility and usability for all, regardless of user ability, age, and level of understanding (Blanck 2014).
Global Universal Design Commission
Increasing usability, safety, health, and social participation through design*
GUDC in Action
"Inclusion drives innovation" is the theme of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, according to the U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy. "Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in a news release announcing the theme. "Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition and drives innovation."
The Global Network on Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) recently hosted a kick-off meeting outlining its agenda, organizational overview and featuring presentations by noted expert Fernando Jácome Gavilánez. Mr. Gavilánez is Coordinator of Foreign Affairs and Specialist in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for the Republic of Ecuador.
In 2016, we wrote about how Universal Design (UD) increases the usability, and safety and health, of buildings. UD is a paradigm for design of the built environment to address human diversity and increase access to the maximum extent. The Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC), a not-for-profit corporation, aims to increase understanding and use of UD in collaboration with the design, development, disability, and aging communities. Our partners include Ambassador Dr. Luis Gallegos, who is Honorary Chairman of the GUDC, and other prominent Ecuadorians leading in the promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities and older adults.
We're used to seeing accessible bathrooms and wheelchair ramps at the office, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. But in many ways, employers still don't go far enough to accommodate people with disabilities. The unemployment rate is two times higher for disabled people than the general population.
Jasson Garcia's daily travels look maddening. The sidewalks of Mexico City are broken and cars block pedestrian crossings. In the subway station, there's no elevator, so he has to labor down the stairs. Busy commuters push to get past him. But you don't see this in Jasson's demeanor. The skinny 15-year-old seems totally unfazed. "It just feels normal now," he says. "I can go basically anywhere I want without a problem."