CHHA Releases Universal Design Document
Editor: Universal Design is very cool! It's the idea that a product
should be designed so that nearly everyone can use it, regardless of their
individual limitations. It 's a companion of the idea that it's much
easier to design accessibility in than to add it on.
The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) has recently released a
document with guidelines and best practices for folks with hearing loss.
You can access the English version at: http://www.chha.ca/documents/Universal_Design_and_Barrier-Free_Access.pdf
and the French version at: http://www.chha.ca/documents/Conception_universelle_et_acccs_facile.pdf
Here's their cover letter.
Wikipidia defines Universal Design as a relatively new paradigm that
emerged from barrier-free" or "accessible design" and "assistive
technology. The definition continues by stating that this new concept
provides a level of accessibility for people with disabilities. For most
people the concept of universal design or barrier free access creates the
image of a wheelchair ramp to a building. However, for the Canadian Hard
of Hearing Association the concept of universal design is about accessible
communication, the ability to be able to understand and interact with the
world around them.
Ten percent of the world's population has some degree of hearing loss
making hearing loss the largest disability in the world. These percentages
are modest compared to the incidence level expected in the coming decades.
Hearing loss has enormous social, economic and emotional impact, affecting
individuals, families and all members of the community. Communication
breakdown is the primary effect of hearing loss creating issues in
interpersonal relationships, educational participation, employment, and
socioeconomic status. Societal impacts are far-reaching in terms of
healthcare costs, poverty, loss of economic gains, and reduction in
quality of life. Self-sufficiency and individual well-being are adversely
impacted. Society loses out when a significant portion of its members are
unable to communicate and participate effectively; this affects not only
the quality of life, it also affects the economic viability of the
Upon examination of the rising population of persons with hearing loss
it became apparent that a Universal Design document focusing on access for
persons with hearing loss would be a much needed and sought after resource
tool. With assistance from Human Resource Social Development Canada,
Social Development Partnerships Program, The Canadian Hard of Hearing
Association has attempted to fill this void with this document; "Universal
Design & Barrier-Free Access, Guidelines for Persons with Hearing Loss"
created by Michel David and his Advisory Committee; Dr. Charles Laszlo,
Dr. Marilyn Dahl, Mr. Colin Cantlie and Mr. Duane Simpson. We believe this
resource guide has encapsulated the necessary information required to
ensure a "Universal Design" concept for all persons with hearing loss. It
is our intent that this document will provide the necessary information
required to ensure accessible communication will be prevalent in
mainstream society thereby ensuring access for persons with hearing loss