Lee Wilson is actively writing for trade journals, magazines and on-line forums. Lee is currently writing for Sourceable.net and able to write for other publications, just contact Lee with any writing opportunities or ideas.
The following articles represent some recent work:
Passenger lift destination control systems are already appearing in buildings, but we need to consider universal design and the needs of people with disability in their design.
Don Norman, an academic, author, and advocate for human-centred design, suggested there are barriers to the adoption and use of destination control systems (DCS). This was discussed in his book The Design of Everyday Things, where he commented on the design of conventional lifts, first installed in buildings in the late 1800s.
New technology means big improvements to passenger lift destination control systems, and these improvements can help speed up travel times, improve efficiency and provide benefit for some people with disabilities.
Destination control systems (DCS) – or destination-oriented lift systems – are not a new concept. In fact, they have been around for decades, but their use is now increasing as technology advances. This technology is actually an Australian invention first developed in Sydney in 1961 and patented by Leo Port MBE, who would later become the Lord Mayor of Sydney from 1978 until his death three years later.
Stairs are a necessity in buildings; they provide a path from one level to another level under normal conditions and an exit path under emergency conditions.
In fact, we’ve been building stairs in various forms for thousands of years, so you would think by now we’d have this right, but that might not be the case.
Accessibility is on the radar of many organisations, and rightly so.
Legislation mandates that public transport, premises and education must be accessible for all, including people with disability. However, what we often see provided is just the minimum required to achieve compliance. Accessibility has, in some ways, become a ‘compliance’ issue.
Mobility scooters can provide their users with independence and emotional well-being, with the choice to travel beyond their walking ability, but we need to plan for an increase in their use.
Mobility scooters are a popular mobility device for many people. They offer a simple and affordable mode of transportation for those who experience mobility challenges or have difficulty walking long distances.
Australia needs a non-regulatory handbook to provide the building and construction industry with best practice advice on emergency egress for people with disability.
While we continue to ignore this issue, we fail to consider the needs of all building occupants in an emergency.
The Deaf community live in a world designed for people who can hear, but a new design movement challenges how buildings should be built, where sensory experiences and interaction with the fabric of the building takes precedence.
Unique situations can necessitate a rethink of accepted beliefs and processes. The Gallaudet University is one such case in which accepted design concepts have been questioned. In fact, the university challenged the principles of architecture in terms of how deaf people communicate within space, and have since developed a new understanding of how a person’s sensory experience can be enhanced within the built environment.
When we consider the need for contrasting surfaces in the built environment, there are some important terms we must understand from the outset.
International Standard ISO 21542 defines ‘luminance’ as the intensity of light emitted or reflected in a given direction from the surface element divided by the area of the element in the same direction. This value is expressed as a Luminance Reflective Value, or LRV.
How many times have you seen people cautiously approaching a glazed entry to a shopping centre without knowing where the automatic doors are?
Now imagine you have some level of vision loss as you’re approaching that same entrance. Will you register the location of the glazed entry? Will you identify the doorway? Can you safely move through the doorway?
Good wayfinding allows a person who is blind or has low vision to “benefit from a well-designed environment that presents a predictable set of physical circumstances,” but it can also benefit all occupants of a building, including those with mobility or activity limitations.
Wayfinding is an area that is often misunderstood and poorly implemented. It is not just providing signs with written messages.
Wayfinding has been described as “the ease with which one proceeds and is facilitated through an environment from one point of interest to another.”
Article about Braille Sign Supplies manufacturing accessible emergency and exit signs, as well as discussion on my evacuation guidebook and the Accessible Exit Sign Project (and Universal Design Meets the exit Sign campaign).
Universal design needs to cross into mainstream design to service a growing market driven by changing demographics and a socially responsible business world looking for new opportunities.
Universal design has been a topic of much discussion in recent times. In fact, the Association of Consultants in Access Australia dedicated their recent national conference to the theme “Universal Design: A Better Way.”
Universal design has been described as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design.”
Gender neutral toilets cater for people who for many reasons feel uncomfortable using a toilet that is designated as either male, female or unisex. In the future, we will see an increase in these amenities, particularly in educational buildings.
The National Construction Code 2015 has specific requirements when it comes to the provision of toilets in all commercial buildings. These requires are prescribed within Section F of the Building Code of Australia, Volume 1 (BCA). The BCA has specific objectives with toilets, which include safeguarding occupants from the “loss of amenity arising from the absence of adequate personal hygiene facilities.” Furthermore, the ‘Functional Statement’ requires a building to be provided with suitable sanitary facilities for personal hygiene.
Accessibility in the built environment is an important issue for over 4 million Australians with a disability. Businesses need to identify and remove access barriers to provide an inclusive environment and reduce risk.
Everyone has the right to access buildings as they go about their day to day lives. But for some people this proves more challenging due to barriers preventing good access. Businesses that fail to remove these barriers must address this risk.
Given the identified benefits of performance-based building solutions, why has industry been reluctant to accept their use?
The National Construction Code is being updated and the proposed changes include quantification of the mandatory Performance Requirements.
Public toilets are a necessity for everyone, but are suitable toilets available for everyone’s use?
Changing Places toilets fill an important gap in the current building codes requirements. They cater for a different user group compared to standard accessible (or disabled) toilets.
The Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 commenced on May 1, 2011 and made significant changes to the accessibility requirements in new and upgraded buildings. There is now a limited time remaining to provide comments as part of a regulatory review process.
Australian building legislation does not currently mandate an inclusive approach to the safe evacuation of buildings.This poses a significant risk for the 20 per cent of the population with some form of disability, particularly the 10.5 per cent with a mobility disability when the options for evacuation in a multi-level building are generally limited to stairways only. It therefore raises the question “how would a person with mobility limitations get to an exit level if they’re located on an upper or lower level when the alarms sound?”
International Fire Protection Magazine May 2015, Feature Article on Egress Group Pty Ltd and the ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’
At Egress Group we believe the future in exit signs must include the ability for occupants to identify an accessible means of egress (or access path of egress). To do this, appropriate exit signage is required. The use of the ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’ (AMEI) within an exit sign strategy will provide a clear, pictorial message for occupants, to identify those exits that are accessible, and those which are not accessible.
Lee Wilson is the author of a guidebook titled “Evacuation of People with Disability & Emergent Limitations: Considerations for Safer Buildings & Efficient Evacuations”. The guidebook considers all building occupants, including people with disability and includes templates for personal and group emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs and GEEPS). It is currently available as a FREE download.
Books & Publications: Evacuating people with disability, safely and with suitable equipment, is just as important as ensuring buildings are accessible, according to disability access consultant Lee Wilson. The accessible building specialist has put together a 154-page guide on the topic, complete with templates for personal and group emergency evacuation plans. Evacuation of People with Disability & Emergent Limitations: Considerations for Safer Buildings and Efficient Evacuations is available as a free PDF download from http://www.leewilson.com.
Planning for evacuation of people with disability is a complex issue. This article is an extract of the recently produced guidebook entitled Evacuation of People with Disability and Emergent Limitations: Considerations for Safer Buildings and Efficient Evacuations, which discusses the requirements for
people with disability during building emergencies.
Accessible Signs in New Zealand: Following on from my article in the SPE journal Issue 84 and my publication in respect of accessibility I am pleased to announce the Accessible Exit Sign Project has just made its way into New Zealand. The new inclusive exit sign design will be available later this year through the projects new licence partner – Safety Signs Sales Ltd. http://www.accessibleexitsigns.com
Evacuation of People with Disability & Emergent Limitations: Considerations for Safer Buildings & Efficient Evacuations.
Early in 2013, Lee Wilson, Director of Egress Group Pty Ltd embarked on a journey to write an evacuation guidebook for
people with disability. It was during the research to prepare the book that he identified a major problem with exit signs currently provided in commercial buildings, facilities, ships and other forms of transportation. Lee realized that existing forms of exit signage do not consider the needs of people with disability, particularly those who find fire escape stairs a barrier. He asked: how do people that use a wheelchair know where to go during an emergency?
GAATES at a Glance, Volume 2, 7 February 2015, Feature Article – Why We Need an Accessible Means of Egress
February 2015 Feature Article is on egress, especially evacuation routes that meet the needs of persons with disabilities in evacuation situations. Lee highlights the on-going international debate surrounding the use of “evacuation lifts, refuge areas, or assisted evacuation techniques such as the use of evacuation chairs, in conjunction with good
emergency evacuation procedures.”
Group Emergency Evacuation Plans, or GEEPs, are critical documents needed for public buildings with visitors unfamiliar with evacuation arrangements. An effective GEEP reduces risk and could be the difference between a safe evacuation and a major disaster.
Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, or PEEPs, are critical documents that need to be developed for some building occupants. An effective PEEP could literally be the difference between life and death.
When it comes to accessibility, there are common themes in architectural design documentation.
New buildings need to consider universal design principles to ensure all people can safely and independently evacuate a building that is free of barriers, restrictions or delays.
New communities need to start planning for the health and well-being of the elderly with suitable spaces that promote social engagement, play and gentle exercise.
The needs of people with disabilities must be a priority when considering the overall evacuation strategy of a building.
Australian society is changing, we’re living longer, we’re going to be working longer, and obesity and disability rates are increasing. It’s now time to future-proof new buildings for the needs of society.