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The universally designed society – an important concern of the Norwegian government.

Innlegg på konferansen "Innovation for all 2018: European Business Workshop in Inclusive Design", på DogA i Oslo, 7. juni 2018.

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Universal design as a tool for innovation, is one of your main topics for the next days. It's a topic that belongs at the very center of our attention regarding the development of our future society. How can we combine technology and entrepreneurship to develop liveable and inclusive environments? During the next two days you will attend lectures by internationally renowned designers and participate in challenging workshops.

Universal design, or inclusive design if you prefer, is about equality, equal opportunities and a society without obstacles and unpractical solutions. 

Universal design contributes to more people working and participating in society. Universal design is sound economics and supports a sustainable society. 

One of the important concerns of the Norwegian government is to develop a good society for all. The Government’s vision is a society where everyone can take part.

Employment is a key issue. Like many countries in Europe, North America and Asia, Norway will experience a change in the population’s age over the next decades. There will be more senior citizens, and less young people to fill the jobs in both the public and private sectors. We also know that more senior citizens will require an increased need for care workers.

How can we address these challenges?

The most obvious answer is that we need more people in the work force. We need to reduce the number of people who, for various reasons stop working. We need to increase the number of people who can stay in work longer and we need to include more people with disabilities in the work force. Universal design is a key factor in this respect.

It is often stated that inclusive design is necessary for some and important for all. But do most people realize that accessibility and inclusive design is important for themselves too? And moreover; are they willing to pay for such qualities?

Yes, they are.

Two important research projects carried out in Norway over the last years have given us more insight into how people value inclusive design features.

We now know that the average bus-passenger is willing to pay a higher price for the bus ticket if the entrance to the bus has no steps. Auditory and visual information about the next stops are also valued.

A resent research project concluded that the same goes for buildings and out-door areas. 800 Norwegians were asked how they valued a range of inclusive design qualities. Again they were willing to pay more to visit buildings with accessible entrance, good illumination, lifts and well-marked doors.

Universal design is a good investment and increases the value of buildings, buses and products.

This government is committed to work for a universally designed society.

An important tool in the government's work for a universally designed society is the Action plan for universal design. The plan emphasises the importance of universal design in ICT and welfare- and everyday technology.

Universal design is important for each and one of us, and for the social and economic sustainability of our society.

Universal design is good for equality and good for business.

I appreciate that Design and Architecture Norway is taking on this perspective. This is why we continue to support this important conference.

This conference contributes to a better tomorrow. I would like to see a continuing stream of innovative inclusive design. To achieve this we need the dedication and creativity of designers.

I wish you all two interesting and inspiring days!

Thank you for your attention.

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