Universal Design Conference comes to Auckland

Universal Design Conference comes to Auckland!

Auckland is getting ready to host the 3rd annual Universal Design Conference and Be. Accessible is excited to be a Gold sponsor of this hugely important event. The event aims to bring together influential thought-leaders to discuss inclusion by design in the topical areas of housing, neighbourhood, tourism, and transport.

In 2017 Be. Accessible commissioned Cogo Consulting to conduct the Access Citizen survey. We found that 56% of New Zealanders living with disability believe that communities in New Zealand could be more accessible to them so that they are able to participate fully in life – a great reason to incorporate universal design principals in everything that we do!  

Why would you want to exclude the 1 in 4 New Zealanders currently living with an access need? Universal design creates the conditions for full access to everyday life, so that every single person can thrive and participate to their fullest potential.

So, who will be speaking?

Minnie Baragwanath
Profile image of Minnie BaragwanathBe.’s CEO Minnie Baragwanath will invite us all to step into the future realm of Possibility!  She and her team believe that we must be designing for how the world is becoming and we must ensure that access is at the heart of this design approach. Be. Accessible has created The Be. Lab – a New Zealand based, globally networked, 21st century centre of access innovation – to enable this shift to occur.

In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, disruption happens swiftly. And any number of future currents – global migration patterns, crypto-currencies, shifting societal attitudes, climate change-related weather events, political upheaval, the aging population, AI and automation – could profoundly affect the state of accessibility globally. Existing access challenges may escalate rapidly, or alternatively, be eliminated completely. Historical, hard-fought-for wins of the accessibility movement have the potential to be quickly and dramatically impacted.

The Be. Lab methodology will support organisations and groups to remain alert and responsive to shifting trends, and build critical future-centred access innovation capability within their teams. The Be. Lab incubator will help Access Entrepreneurs test, iterate, fund, and scale their ideas for greater impact.

Victor Calise

Profile image of Victor CaliseAttendees will be lucky to hear from Victor Calise, commissioner of New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Minnie and our General Manager Megan Barclay met with him on their global study tour where he discussed his vision to make NYC the most accessible city in the world.

Victor Calise is a true leader in enabling accessibility through partnerships and by taking a strength-based approach to social change. His office’s goal is to improve accessibility in four main areas: transportation, employment, education and access to City government (referring to public infrastructure).

According to the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities website, the Commissioner “consistently engages with innovators in cybersecurity, autonomous vehicle development, and digital accessibility in order to ensure that accessibility remains a priority in technological developments.”

Ludo Campbell-Reid

Profile image of Ludo Campbell-ReidDescribed by The Property Council of New Zealand as “the lightning rod for the transformation of downtown Auckland” Ludo is a globally renowned city planning expert and urban design thought-leader with over 25 years of international experience within public and private sectors. He advises mayors, governments, cities, companies and communities on how to make their cities healthier, safer and more inclusive.
In speaking with Ludo, who is also a Fab 50 member, he expressed the people-centered vision of his team, Auckland Council’s Auckland Design Office: “Cities are not machines. They are living, breathing organisms with human characteristics and traits. The key to understanding cities is understanding people. It’s more psychology than planning. People, not the private car, nor the bus or the train or the office building are the customer.”   

“The whole purpose of the conference is to work out how to put the needs of people at the heart of every well-designed place … I’d like to see universal design champions across the design, service, and development sectors, collectively raising its awareness, it’s appeal and tackling the issues and barriers that hold us back. We’re all getting older and living longer. Universal Design is the greatest challenge of 21st century cities”.

Ludo says that while New Zealand has been relatively slow to start conversations about universal design … there are centres of excellence happening across Aotearoa. 

“Our city is going through a public space and public transport revolution. The challenge for us is to ensure that the universal design and collaboration with diverse stakeholders are part of every design project, from the early concept stage to the construction.”

“A city that is a city for all, is a city that will be overall more productive, more vibrant, more community centered, and more inclusive. That is the type of city everybody wants”.