Virtual Reality and accessible housing design policy within Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme Ms Libby Callaway & Associate Professor Kate Tregloan

Australia’s ten-year National Disability Strategy highlights the need for universal design principles to build ‘an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens’. Inclusive housing and community design is a key enabler to address this need, and benefits from an interdisciplinary approach with the tenant and their supporters, health professionals, architects and technologists.

Objectives

1) Detail a two-year national housing research project funded as part of the second implementation plan of Australia’s National Disability Strategy, focused on disability housing reform underway through Australia’s $22B National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS);

2) Demonstrate communication of interdisciplinary housing and community design evaluation findings from this research, linked to the new NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) policy and made available within ‘virtual housing tours’ on a web platform called ‘My Home Space’.

3) Discuss how ‘My Home Space’ demonstrates key issues and design responses that can be generalised for universal design.

Approach:  Post-occupancy evaluation fieldwork undertaken across Australia used both published measures and customised methods. Housing, technology, support and community design and user (tenant) experiences were examined. A national housing roundtable with state and federal housing and disability government representatives was convened. Research evidence coupled with findings from the round table and current SDA policy documents informed a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Outcomes within Australia’s National Disability Strategy. Findings from this range of activities were also converted into ‘virtual reality’ as online housing tours within ‘My Home Space’. These tours allow the user to explore different housing scenarios, filtered by NDIS SDA design category, housing type and specific activities, to explore the application of current government policies, accessibility guidelines and research findings in virtual space.

Outcome :The innovative, interdisciplinary multimedia methods of ‘My Home Space’ were initially developed to communicate policy and research findings relating to housing for people with disability, and inform design decisions. This approach can be applied for other settings and stakeholders to inform and communicate a range of design principles to varied audiences, supporting universal design.

1 Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University

2Associate Professor, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University