Design Forum No. 76: December 2006
Mobility Index – a world-first innovation
Masters Thesis in Social Science (International Development) at
RMIT University involves a unique approach to the study of disability
by providing for the first time a conceptual framework on how physical
access can be measured across the built environment. Anchored in
the rights-based approach to social justice this composite quality-of-life
indicator, the Universal Mobility Index (UMI) views people with
disabilities from the perspective of the World Health Organisation’s
International Classification of Functioning Disease and Health as
sanctioned by Disabled Peoples International.
evolving canon of literature in the social sciences, international,
human and community development disciplines relies on Composite
Indices such as the United Nations Development Program’s Human
Development Index to communicate the status and change of complex
systems. Much more than a rigorous academic exercise, the UMI has
direct practical application illuminating how barriers to mobility
discriminately constrain the autonomy of people with disabilities
(PwDs), violating their human rights and compounding their oppression
and stigmatisation. This new Index comparatively and longitudinally
quantifies access for persons of all abilities to private dwellings,
commercial buildings, public buildings and infrastructure for the
first time across the total built environment reflecting the real
life experience of denial of access. The unique methodology of the
UMI empowers People with Disabilities drawn from within the local
community by placing them at the centre of decision making on assessing
and prioritising barrier removal. They remain actively involved
in decision and are intimately involved during all phases and final
Victoria the concept of the UMI has generated considerable interest.
Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs), Local Governments, Built
Environment organisations and professional groups have all been
extremely supportive. VDD is endeavouring to initiate pilot projects
in partnership with progressive local governments and Disability
Reference Groups (or equivalent) both in Australia and internationally.
Due to in-house knowledge and skills VDD, in an international
context, specifically want to team up with Latin American governments
and disability organisations. Implementing a world-first series
of pilot studies will demonstrate how innovative policy, practice
and partnership can collaborate with key stakeholders to promote
a new approach to promoting accessible communities resulting in
increased participation of persons of all physical abilities.
envisaged series of pilot studies will provide the platform on
which to launch an elegant tool for a ‘whole of government
approach’ to mobility within the built environment and,
enhance prospects for people with disabilities to strengthen community
membership, participation and inclusion.
Using the Universal Mobility Index will allow local governments and their authorities to:
• Assess what changes to the built environment persons with disabilities want to be made
• Prioritise these changes in accordance with the wishes of People with Disabilities
• Assess, reassess and longitudinally track their record of access provision
• Measure success, informing all stakeholders ...............
thereby improving and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate and be included in all areas of community life.
Ralph Green, Director, Visionary Design Development
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NOVEMBER 2006 - UNIVERSAL MOBILITY INDEX GATHERS MOMENTUM
on 3rd August 2006 (see below) featured a presentation entitled
“access all areas” by Optometrist and Social Science
post-grad student Ralph Green, co-director of Visionary Design Development
Pty Ltd – a business member of AfP. Ralph introduced an innovative
concept he was working on that measures equity of access in the
thesis which develops a theoretical and methodological framework
for a “Universal Mobility Index” (UMI) is now complete
and generating considerable interest from government, architects,
planners, Disabled Peoples Organisations and building industry stakeholders
as well as internationally.
UMI is a unique tool to quantatively measure, compare and longtitudinally
track equity of access provision across all parts of the built environment.
people with disabilities are empowered by placing them at the centre
of decision making on identifying, measuring and prioritising removal
UMI also includes a policy rating component which probes and rates
the inclusion of the views of people with disabilities in policy
making affecting the built environment.
and Mary Ann Jackson, architect, planner, accredited access consultant
and fellow co-director of VDD are about to embark on a speaking
tour of South America, visiting six countries in all, during January
and February 2007.
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Integration of Universal Design Principles in the Built Environment