Diversity of Explanations of UD

a series of black icons on white background depicting people of all shapes and sizes, including a baby in a stroller, a person with a can and a wheelchair user Working with diversity is a key element of universal design thinking. So having diverse ways of explaining universal design seems appropriate. Wikipedia and universal design websites will have many of the standard explanations. But understanding universal design is more of a continuous conversation. Different words can be utilised in different discussions.

In common use are “inclusive design”, “design-for-all” and “design for the lifespan”.  Other words and terms could be:

Provocative design: doing things differently, challenging the status quo.

Fragile design: designs that require community agreement to hold them together.

Careful or caring design: taking care to be inclusive in design thinking and processes.

Everyday design: designing more things to be ubiquitous, accepted and normal.

Thoughtful design: the opposite of thoughtless design where some people feel left out.

Empathetic design: similar to careful/caring design and thoughtful design, by putting yourself in the situation of others.

Looking to the future design: looking at how trends are developing and factoring this into designs.

7 senses design: factoring all our senses into designs.

Collaborative design: in some cultures this is a significant part of the design process – without it the product, service or building won’t be used.

Acceptable design: similar to collaborative design, but perhaps some compromises have to be made.

Disruptive design: changing the way things are done, challenging the status quo of designs, using environments or products in new ways.

Intergenerational design: family structures are diverse – recognising that not every family is a nuclear family whether at home or in the community.

Liveable design: being functional for everyone as well as looking good

Universal usability: focusing on how people use things – used mostly in relation to mobile technology, particularly to include older people

Interaction experience: trying to pull together usability, user experience and accessibility under one umbrella – relates mostly to ergonomics

Download the one page Word version or one page PDF version for reference.

In line with the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability and the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program we should continue with universal design. The term is understood internationally as a concept for physical, social, economic and cultural inclusion.

As an aside to this list, academia seems keen on adding and own yet more terms for what is essentially the same thing – wanting to be more inclusive with designs. Do we really need any more terms? 

For a crash course on the basics of universal design, sign up to CUDA’s free online learning, Introduction to Universal Design.

Jane Bringolf, Editor

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.

 

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, the ten things to know about universal design are:

    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 another name 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 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

7 Principles of universal design

ron_maceThe seven principles of universal design were devised in the mid nineties, but still hold today. They are a good starting 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. 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.