Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review of the DIYModify App

Hillary Wilde, IDEAS Database Support reviewed the DIY Modify App, an app for people looking to modify their existing homes.

The DIYModify app is an excellent information resource for people wanting to modify their existing homes for increased mobility and accessibility, in and around, their homes.

It is developed by HMInfo (Home Modification Information Clearinghouse – a website providing free, universally accessible, evidence-based design resources), which is part of the University of New South Wales’ Faculty of the Built Environment.

The app provides descriptions, diagrams and a limited price guide for accessibility related items. It is laid out very well aesthetically, providing a very simple and easy to understand user experience.
However, some of the usability features are a bit clunky. Having to rely on the “Next” button to move to the next page is not as user friendly or intuitive as it could be. The button is small and is a white button on a white background, which doesn’t stand out straight away.

A lot of time was spent trying to use the standard swipe gesture to move to the next screen to no avail. It is understandable needing a ‘next’ button for page readers, but both standard finger gestures and buttons can be utilised simultaneously, and perhaps this would create a smoother end user experience.

Another consideration would be to include accessible light switches and adjusting light switch heights, as well as benchtops etc. as further options.

Ultimately, integration with the HMInfo database to provide links to suppliers in the end-user’s location should be considered a top priority for the developers of this app. All in all, this app has great potential and is well thought out and developed. 

For more information about the app or modifying your home, contact IDEAS or call 1800 029 904. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Light up your night with Vivid

[Image description: The Sydney Opera House lit up in colours of pinks and blue in an abstract design during the Sydney Vivid Festival in 2017. Image source: Sydney Vivid website.]

Running from 26th May to 17th June, Sydney’s Vivid Festival is the largest of its kind in Australia. And we are pleased to see the continued investment by the Festival organisers into making the event more accessible year on year. 

This year’s festival has even more sensory friendly events, audio described and Auslan interpreted events and wheelchair accessible areas than ever before, to make the festival an event that everyone can enjoy. 

The event is split into three areas: Vivid Light, Vivid Music and Vivid Ideas. 

Vivid Light

Vivid Light is the main attraction for most visitors to Vivid and where light art installations are projected onto the side of iconic Sydney buildings such as the Opera House, Customs House, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Additionally, there are standalone art pieces and sculptures dotted throughout precincts across the city. These include Barangaroo, Chatswood, Darling Harbour, Opera House, Taronga Zoo and the Rocks, amongst others. 

There are 58 installations that are wheelchair friendly, 67 that are audio described, 1 Companion Card and 1 that is sensory friendly. 

From ethereal columns, to sunflowers, to the harbour bridge and beyond to the Sydney Opera House, there really is a vast array of interactive and beautiful lights displays. 

For more information about the light installations, visit: 

Vivid Music

Vivid Music is a dynamic program of cutting-edge music including live performances and music collaborations from local and international artists. 

There is a multitude of music events across the city. An example of an accessible, Hearing Loop friendly experience is Dianne Reeves, who is a jazz vocalist. This show takes place in the City Recital Hall which is an accessible and inclusive venue. Featuring a T-Loop system, National relay Service is supported, as are Companion Cards and offers lift access, accessible toilets and seating. 

There are a number of accessible music events taking place with more information available here:

Vivid Ideas

Vivid Ideas lets visitors connect with leaders and learn new skills through a series of lectures and discussions. 

Taking Artists with Disability Seriously

This event discusses how theatre makers, visual artists and dancers with disability get taken seriously by bringing together findings from across Europe, the US and UK where professional inclusive arts are explored. 

Three recent Winston Churchill Fellows, Sarah-Vyne Vassallo (Murmuration), Gabrielle Mordy (studio A) and Alison Richardson (RUCKUS) headline the event, with a panel discussion chaired by the CEO of Accessible Arts. 

There are many more interesting events taking place throughout Vivid Ideas. For more information visit here: 

There are many more resources available at the Vivid Festival website including an interactive accessible map, information on interactive tours and volunteers who can assist. 
Or if you need more assistance, contact IDEAS on 1800 029 904. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Being Female and Living with a Disability in Rural Australia

In partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria, Women’s Health Goulbourn North East (WHGNE) carried out a study which highlighted a number of concerning barriers for women with disabilities living in rural communities.

There are worrying trends exposing discrimination and harassment, as well as longer-term health and well-being effects.

The study found that the main barriers included:

  • Transport 
  • Medical supplier choice
  • Escaping disability medical model

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2014 people with a disability were less likely to have had daily face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside the household, compared to those who did not have a disability (16% compared with 20%). With community transport standards varying wildly and almost non-existent transport links, it is easy to see why people with disability in rural communities suffer from social isolation.

With the exception of main towns, access to public transport is very poor. Veteran Affairs appear to have a better handle on understanding taxi subsidies, but clients and sometimes even taxi operators struggle to understand them.

If living with a disability rurally, there is generally less choice of medical suppliers, with perhaps one service provider supplying “everything”, transport, accommodation, work, access to day and community engagement programmes. And if there are not strong enough advocates for that individual defining acceptable service standards to operate by, then there is an increased risk of less access and poorer standards.

Often, the medical model of a person’s disability defines them and escaping can be difficult. This keeps an individual isolated except for accessing their medical supports.

Community culture can play an important role on the isolation and inclusion that a person with disability can have. Although culture is driven by a community, individuals can benefit. If a person is recognised by their name or belonging to a particular family, their neighbours and fellow community members speak about the individual as a whole, regardless of their disability. This can provide positive acceptance and engagement at all levels within the community from education, social, church and sports.

Although social isolation can be rife, there are some positive stories of rural communities pulling together and embracing an individual’s unique differences.

Julie, a young 50 year old woman was involved in the community world music choir for some years. A great director, great choristers, great repertoire of world music, drumming and dancing in a rural location. She suffered a medical misadventure which rendered her very ill for a long time and without a voice.

After she was well enough she approached the choir director and asks if she could return to the choir (because she loved the music). However, she wished to be an elite lip syncer and enjoyed the music around her, the dance, and the fellowship of the other choristers. The director had no qualms with it, however, realised that he has to put it to the choir. At the next rehearsal, Julie had two minutes to introduce herself by telling them about her condition as much as she felt comfortable.
After her introduction and lip syncing audition, she was wholly accepted into the choir. Since she joined, there have been a number of additional members join, one who has a visual impairment, another who has had a stroke but can sing.

The moral of the story is that from small things, big things grow. And with the right support and choices to make informed decisions, people with disability should not feel isolated.

Do you have a disability or care for someone with a disability and live in a rural community? Are you looking for information to make better decisions? Contact IDEAS on 1800 029 904 or visit us at