||The philosophy behind universal design, as promulgated by Professor Mace, is based on the concept that all human beings have some kind of disability at some point in their lives. In this sense, the removal of obstacles in our common living environment, known as barrier - free modifications, can be thought of as the first step toward universal design.
Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd, which opened in February 2005, has 35 STAR GLIDE belt - type moving walkways made by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. The biggest feature of the walkways is that they have been made totally flat, with no step at the ends, unlike previous products.
Although the company has been selling STAR GLIDE walkways since 1990, based on technologies originally commercialized by a British company, previous products had a height difference of 2 cm between the step - off point and the belt itself. Although this is a very small step, it is still enough to overturn wheelchairs that have small castor - like front wheels, and the company was getting increasing numbers of complaints about it from users.
Central Japan International Airport was built along universal design principles with the aim of making it easy for anyone to use, explains Masatoshi Kojima, manager, Logistics and Parking Systems Division at Sumitomo Heavy Industries. With this in mind, we worked to remove steps and barriers from our products, and after many experiments, we were able to make a flat walkway.
The step - free STAR GLIDE walkways have been applauded for enabling safe boarding and alighting not only for wheelchair users but also for people pushing baby strollers or with rolling suitcases.