Universal Design for Leisure Facilities Cities

The 2015 Universal Design International Seminar has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: KOSUGE Ruka (Professor of Tezukayama University, Dept. of Living Space Design)

User survey for ski resort design reflecting universal design

In 1998, at the Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, 710 disabled skiers were surveyed on the perception and environment of skiing. The response rate was 35%, and the number of answers returned was 261. Interesting answers from the survey include "Skiing is a leisure activity, not a rehabilitation treatment," "I can't move my legs, but I can feel the speed," and "I can enjoy it fully without worrying about being compared to others because I'm exercising privately." In other words, skiing is an easy sport for anyone with any disability to try, and the number of elderly beginner skiers and skiers with disabilities might be expected to increase in the future.

Various Ski Styles

After completing the survey, we looked into what ski equipment was being used by those with disabilities. The most common usages were two ski boards and poles, but snowboards and mono-skis are also commonly used. Participants who could not walk on their own due to spinal cord injuries used sit-skis and some also use auxiliary ski poles called "Outriggers."

The research team then conducted a further investigation, thinking that different ski styles would have different problems with the environment of skiing. The first problem was that moving heavy ski boots from the parking area on the trail was always stressful, and the trail area to the accommodation was also difficult for users using one-foot and sit-skis. They had to take off all their ski wear to go to the bathroom and the bathroom needed more space. Also, mono-skiers needed help because it was difficult to balance on ski lifts. Next, problem areas according to the type of ski sticks were largely divided into ski pole users and outrigger users. As I said before, people who do not have a good grip on their bodies use the outriggers, many of which experience a lot of inconvenience in accommodation and toilets, and in buildings needed to be made barrier-free.

Problem with Ski Plate Type

Problem with Ski Stick Type

Among the answers received from nine visually impaired skiers, areas were divided into the parking-to-trail area and the ski trail area. The visually impaired skiers were driven along by guide skiers, who provide information about obstacles and hills on the route, suggesting that the background music from the ski resort should be kept to such a volume that it does not interfere with the guide's words.

The problems visually impaired skiers face.

Among subsequent surveys of each area of the ski resort, the first concerned the ski lift, which showed that users preferred a flat slope on the waiting line, and a gentle downhill slope on the drop-off slope.

Investigating Ski Lift Preferences

In terms of accessibility to the accommodation, the biggest problem was the stairs. While flat roads are generally preferred, most ski resorts have high places that are built in preparation for weather conditions and snowstorms, and have difficulty installing stairs in front of ski lots. Slopes are also preferred but prone to being slippery. Therefore, we found that the design of the area should consider a number of things by reflecting the results of the survey.

In addition, in parking lots and trails, users are required to carry their own ski boots, ski plates and ski poles. During this process, flat slopes and downhill slopes were preferred, and snow-covered slopes were preferred as they could be more easily navigated. Regarding the best place for changing ski boots, parking spaces and cars accounted for the largest percentage, with the fewest people changing on the ski trail. The problem with changing ski boots in the parking area was that there were no chairs and no places to put luggage.

Suggestion for Universal Design of Ski Resort

After analyzing the previous survey, we visited ski resorts frequently visited by disabled skiers for activities such as sit-skiing. There, we were able to check the actual environment, write a universal design checklist of ski resorts, and come up with some suggestions. This proposal is not only for participants with disabilities, but also for both elderly and beginners, and the recommendations are as follows:

UD1. Disabled Parking Lot
Given that there were many skiers who felt stressed between the parking lot and the trail, we suggested creating a dedicated parking lot. In addition, a ticket office can be placed in the middle of the ski trail to prevent players from climbing hills with heavy ski equipment.

UD2. Moving Walkway
It is easier to enter the lift gate if a moving walkway is installed between the parking lot and the lift gate.

UD3. Using the Elevator in the Lodge
The way to enter the lift gate from the parking lot is not a moving walkway but an elevator. Elevators can be installed inside the lot and connected directly to the lift gate.

UD4. Fitting Spaces with Roofs
According to user research, many skiers change into ski boots in parking lots or in their cars, so it is suggested that appropriate spaces with roofs and chairs should be installed in parking lots.

UD5. Renting space for changing skis.
Skiers need more space to change their skis. Thus, if they provide a changing space at the ski resort, they can have their own wheelchairs and prosthetic legs, and families can share a large room with their families, helping their children and members change.

UD6. Remove Steps
Ski resorts can create snow-free spaces in front of stairs by using snow-melting systems or artificial glass can be used to create snow-free spaces in front of stairs.

UD7. Create Always Available Stairs
It is not easy to use the stairs unless snow is removed. Therefore, a roofed escalator could be installed, or a shovel could be used to clear accumulated snow from stairs.

UD8. Rest area in drive-through format
Some skiers want to rest in the middle of the trail, but removing ski boards and ski poles can cause stress. A drive-through rest area in the middle of the trail could provide them rest without taking off their ski gear.

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