Facilitating the development of environments, services and facilities to be inclusive of all people, including people with disabilities.
"Universal Design" (UD) means the design of opportunities, services, products, systems, facilities and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. UD is largely defined as the methodology (tools) or the verb through which Universal Access is created or achieved. Examples of these tools are the Principles of Universal Design as well as the Universal Design Goals.
“Universal Access” (UA) is the ability of all people to have equal access to opportunity, services, products, systems, facilities and environments, regardless of their economic situation, social situation, religious or cultural background, gender or functional limitation. UA is largely defined as the adjective which describes the ability of people, irrespective of diverse human needs, to enjoy life to the fullest and on an equal basis to others.
Beneficiaries of Universal Design are therefore broadly defined as persons who have permanent or temporary disabilities, including elderly persons, pregnant women, small children and people accompanying small children as well as delivery and service personnel and therefore includes anyone who has a different requirement to operate in an environment or use a service or product (the beneficiaries would include all people if you take into account life-span design). It is through designing with UD that UA environments, services and products are created.
Inclusive Design is a company founded on the fundamentals of the South African Constitution and aims to serve as a driver of social inclusion for positive and effective change in the lives of people with diverse human needs. Our philosophy is guided by individual and shared needs of people and not that of special needs. Universal Design serves as a means in which to create and enhance the functionality of environments, services and products, for the widest range of users, recognizing diversity of the human condition. Inclusive Design as a company, recognises the importance of awareness raising and the dissemination of information on diversity and inclusion as an integral deliverable to achieve Universal Access and improving lives.
Chief UA Consultant
With a Master’s Degree specialization in Universal Design, Colette’s working career started in the NGO sector and she quickly moved into the consulting space. Her working experience in Universal Access and Universal Design Consulting started in 2009 and with her independent company, Inclusive Design, she facilitates the development of environments, services and facilities to be inclusive to all people, with a focus on vulnerable users, including people with disabilities, with the higher objective of changing the world for the better. Her work areas of proficiency related to Universal Design include research, guidelines and standards, implementation plans, onsite access auditing, plan reviews, training and training material development and specialist consulting. Her client list includes tourism, national and local government departments, universities, heritage and historical sites, museums, and cultural places, as well as working with large consulting and engineering companies, as well as in the private and business sectors. Colette works extensively with local authorities to implement Integrated Public Transport Networks to achieve Universal Access throughout the travel chain, including operations, marketing and communication, customer care, vehicles, transit orientated development, fare management, skills transfer, passenger information and wayfinding.
Colette’s expertise in Universal Design ranges from the built environment and infrastructure, information dissemination and communication, in South Africa and internationally. She is passionate about research, teaching and knowledge sharing on the paradigm of Universal Access, guideline and standard development, to facilitate the broader implementation of Universal Access in various sectors. Since 2015, Colette has been the South African Representative for SC4A (SmartCities4All) and she was among the first of international applicants to receive the highest echelon of accreditation, Level 3 Advanced Accessibility Consultant for the International Certification of Professionals in Accessible Built Environments (CPABE) Program. Colette was subsequently invited to be a member of the Expert Panel to evaluate and grade applicants of the CPABE Program for IAAP as well as assist in the development of an international body of knowledge and the associated content for the grading of international applicant for the different levels of certification through IAAP, along with other international experts in Universal Access. As of February 2020, Colette was been requested to join as a board member for GUDC (Global Universal Design Commission), who are a not-for-profit corporation, which was established to develop global Universal Design standards for buildings, products and services. Since 2021 Colette was unanimously endorsed to join the Global Leadership Council by the existing membership council.
Colette also currently serves on two working groups as part of SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) and she is also a welcomed annual guest lecturer on Universal Access at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for the Disability Studies Program (MDIS) and is a regular guest lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). In 2020 Colette was invited as a knowledge expert on UD by the South African Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to serve on South African Law Reform Commission Advisory Committee to participate in the investigation of the domestication of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in South Africa, and in 2022 she was invited as a Universal Design expert to join the task team established by SADA (South African Disability Alliance) to write and submit the UNCRPD Shadow Report for South Africa.
Universal Access is about designing facilities, services and products to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for specialised adaptations. We therefore offer our clients expert and applicable advice on ways and means to include aspects of diversity into their facilities, services and products. Related to Universal Access Consulting, we also offer specific research, investigate and unpack explicit issues, establish stakeholder forums specifically for people with diverse human needs, offer skills transfer and assist our clients wherever possible to progress towards a viable, feasible and desirable means of implementation to achieve Equality.
In line with international best practice, our emphasis has shifted away from the concept of being ‘disability’ focused, to that of being focused on ‘Universal Access’, which acknowledges that the benefit thereof goes beyond the classification of people with disabilities.
The Great Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is our belief, at Inclusive Design, that by teaching principles of good design that we are able to make a significant impact upon our society. It is therefore always a recommended deliverable in our work to transfer skills and educate on Universal Access to capacitate more people with the knowledge and understanding of the value that inclusive design offers to staff, clients and society as a whole.
What we therefore term Good Design Practice, can be customised to the clients’ needs, as a presentation or in-depth training on specific aspects, or is added as a general deliverable in larger projects.
Universal Access Auditing, or Reviews, are largely done on existing infrastructure and is easily documented with the assistance of the Trade Marked Universal Access App. This app was specifically developed to collate large amounts of onsite information speedily and accurately by personnel who are able to access all the areas of the existing facilities. The Universal Access App is based on the minimum national building standards in South Africa, SANS 10400 Part S (2011) Facilities for People with Disabilities. Universal Access Reviews can also be conducted on plan drawings during the design phase of a project. The difference between an Audit and a Review of existing infrastructure is the amount of detail that is reported on. Reviews only indicate where features or elements do not comply with the minimum building requirements, while an Audit would reference which section of the building requirements are not met and exactly which feature or element requires revision, adjustment, replacement, installation or construction to meet the minimum requirements and in some cases references International Standards.
Disability Awareness Training
Disability Specific Monitoring and Evaluation