7 Principles of universal design

Head and shoulders of Ron Mace who devised the 7 principles of universal design.
Ron Mace

The 7 principles of universal design were devised in the mid nineties, but still hold today. They were developed by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers led by the late Ron Mace (pictured). The 7 principles are a good starting point for thinking about design from an inclusive perspective. They can apply to any building, open space, product, phone app, website or document.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a fuller explanation of the principles.  Briefly the principles set out in 1997 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. Universal Design is about accepting and celebrating diversity, so there are many ways in which to explain universal design

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.