Sydney will host Australia’s first Universal Design Conference, which seeks to give Australians an opportunity to hear from some of the world’s leading proponents of universal design.

Instigated by Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA NSW) and supported by the City of Sydney, the conference will allow attendees to gain valuable insights for people working in the built environment, urban planning, architecture and building and design.

“People may already understand that universal design is about making products or environments more accessible. But it’s much bigger than that,” says Jane Bringolf of COTA NSW.

“Universal design puts a person’s experience at the centre of the design process. People who apply the principles of universal design ask themselves how they can make sure a product, building or environment can be used by everybody, equally.”

The basis of the conference is that universal design has the potential to transform lives by making small but significant things, such as a cupboard, useable by anyone regardless of their age or level of capability.

“At the same time, it can transform something as large as a city, making it as easy for a person with a walking frame or pram to get around as a kid on a skateboard,” adds Bringolf.

The two day conference will see Dr Gerald Craddock from the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland give a keynote speech that looks at how universal design helps create environments and products that are accessible, safe, and easily used by all.

Kay Saville-Smith, a sociologist and director of the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment will provide a second keynote presentation, which addresses how the issue of affordability is often used to rationalise poor design.

Date: Wednesday 20 August, 9am-5pm

Thursday 21 August, 8.45am-4.30pm

Venue: Lower Town Hall, Town Hall Sydney

Price: 2 Day Conference $600.00 (inc. GST), or $320.00 (inc. GST) for Wednesday or Thursday only. Student rates and bursaries are available – click here for more information.