The seven principles of universal design were devised in the mid nineties, but still hold today. They are a good starting point or framework for thinking about the design of 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 fuller explanation of the principles can be found on the website of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Briefly the principles are:
- Equitable Use
- Flexibility in Use
- Simple and Intuitive to Use
- Perceptible Information
- Tolerance for Error
- Low Physical Effort
- 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. Universal Design is about accepting and celebrating diversity, so there are many ways in which to explain universal design. This list gives a good idea of what it is about – the underpinning philosophy.
In 2006 Steinfeld and Danford also ‘crosswalked’ the principles to the ICF – a handy reference for academics utilising the ICF for activities and participation. Or you can download a copy of the slideshow.