7 Principles of universal design

ron_maceThe seven principles of universal design were devised in the mid nineties, but still hold today. They remain a good reference point or framework for designing any building, open space, product, phone app, or document. They were developed by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers led by the late Ron Mace (pictured).

A good example of explaining the principles can be found on the website of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Briefly the principles are:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive to Use
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

An update to this list was published in 2012 by Steinfeld and Maisel as the 8 Goals of Universal Design. They are more action based than the principles, and include cultural inclusion.

In 2006 Steinfeld and Danford also ‘crosswalked’ the principles to the ICF – a handy reference for academics utilising the ICF for activities and participation.

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From the pixel to the city

A grey picture of the earth with raised areas symbolising citiesInclusive Design: from the pixel to the city features conversations with leading designers creating the next generation of products, graphics and vehicles designed to work better for everyone. The article features a video of  designers’ comments, using animated drawings with voice overs. This adds an interesting perspective to the topic of why we need to make everything inclusive – whether its about pixels or cities. It also shows that creativity need not be curtailed in designing information formats. The article also shows how the graphics for the video were created. The video has closed captions.

Editor’s note: It is good to see information and the reasoning behind inclusive, universal design being presented in more creative ways, and in ways that are not preaching.

 

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The Real Meaning of Inclusive Design

Jeremy_Myerson.head and shoulders shot. He is wearing glassesThe Co-Founder and Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Jeremy Myerson, is asked questions about inclusive design and how it can be achieved in this article from Metropolis Magazine. He stresses that it is a shift in design thinking and the way designers are taught as well as moving away from a legislative approach. In the article’s concluding paragraph Myerson says:

“The bigger challenge is adapting to a more democratic, participatory approach, rather than being the top-down experts. Industrial designers have taken to it extremely well, but architects are struggling. There was a fantastic project by students at the Royal College of Art who rethought the little figures on architectural models. So there was the pregnant mom with the cigarettes, the teenage mother, the drunk, the violent football hooligan—all these social outcasts. They were trying to make architects think about real people in real social scenarios. That’s what inclusive design is about. It’s not just including people in the built environment or the use of products, it’s including people in the process.”

Logo for the Helen Hamlyn Centre: purple upper caseThe Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at London’s Royal College of Art is a major research centre for inclusive design focusing on: Age and Ability, Health Care, and Work and city. In this magazine article Jeremy Myerson responds to the interviewer’s questions:

  • How far have we come
  • Are we finally moving away from a legislation-based model?
  • What are some of the tools you’ve used to make inclusive design more participatory?
  • What else has changed in how we think about accessibility
  • How should we be addressing cognitive disabilities?
  • How much can we expect industry to take on in terms of inclusive design?
  • How does it translate to public policy and the urban realm – the things that are not in the hands of corporations?
  • If we had to think of a new disability discrimination act, what would be some of the key considerations?
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8 Goals of universal design

Logo for the IDeA Center at BuffaloThe Seven Principles of Universal Design (NCSU, 1997) are well known in the universal design fraternity and have been used as a baseline for designing a range of goods, services and policies across the world. The IDeA Center at the University at Buffalo has taken these principles and expanded them to focus on social participation and health. Complementing the Principles of Universal Design, the Goals of Universal Design© define the outcomes of UD practice in ways that can be measured and applied to all design domains within the constraints of existing resources. Briefly, the Goals are:

  1. Body FitEd Steinfeld holding his book next to his face.
  2. Comfort
  3. Awareness
  4. Understanding
  5. Wellness
  6. Social integration
  7. Personalization
  8. Cultural appropriateness

The IDeA website adds that “they encompass functional, social, and emotional dimensions. Moreover, each goal is supported by an interdisciplinary knowledge base (e.g., anthropometrics, biomechanics, perception, cognition, safety, health promotion, social interaction). Thus, the Goals can be used effectively as a framework for both knowledge discovery and knowledge translation for practice. Moreover, the Goals can help to tie policy embodied in disability rights laws to UD and provide a basis for improving regulatory activities by adoption of an outcomes-based approach.”

Ed Steinfeld writes more on universal design generally and the eight goals, in an article published in Modern Health Talk in 2014 as a lead up to the publication of his book written with Jordana Maisel, Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments.

The goals were devised by Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012 ©

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10 Things to know about Universal Design

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has developed a comprehensive list that covers all the myths and misinformation about the purpose of universal design. Briefly, it covers:

1: Universal Design strives to improve the original design concept by making it more inclusive

2: Universally Designed products can have a high aesthetic value

3: Universal Design is much more than just a new design trend

4: Universal Design does not aim to replace the design of products targeted at specific markets

5: Universal Design is not a synonym for compliance with accessible design standards

6: Universal Design benefits more people than older people and people with disabilities

7: Universal Design can be undertaken by any designer, not just the specialists

8: Universal Design should be integrated throughout the design process

9: Universal Design is not just about ‘one size fits all’

10: A Universally Designed product is the goal: Universal Design is the process

See more detail about 10 Things to know about Universal Design

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