Universal design is a design thinking process so a universal design standard is a contradiction in terms. Standards are fixed where universal design is a continuous improvement process. However, where designers cannot grasp the concept of an inclusive thinking process, a set of design directions is needed. Hence a new European universal design standard for products, goods and services.
The standard sets out requirements and recommendations for extending the customer base for products and services. It’s for organisations that design and manufacture products and/or provide services. The aim is to ensure products and services are available to the widest range of users possible.
Diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences area all covered. It is based on processes of user involvement and building on accessibility knowledge. The standard can also be used for complying with legislation and to advance corporate social responsibility.
The standard was developed by Ireland’s National Disability Authority that houses the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. The document has the title “design for all” which is a recognised European term, but notes that universal design, barrier-free-design and transgenerational design are the same thing.
Design for All – Accessibility following a Design for All approach in products, goods and services – Extending the range of users can be purchased from the standards authority.
There is a media release explaining a little more. The regular complaint about standards is the cost of purchase and could be a reason why they are ignored.
Learning about standards
It is assumed that students in design disciplines, such as engineering, automatically learn about standards and how they are developed. According to an article by Jenny Darzentas this is not the case. The way standards are developed and written makes them difficult to understand and apply. Too much emphasis is placed on “learning on the job”.
Darzentas says that education about standards in universal design courses would be beneficial. In Japan, Korea and China this is included, but not in Europe and North America.
Access to standards documents is not usually discussed as a barrier to accessibility and universal design. However, people not only need easy access the documents, but also the information should be easy to access. Is this an argument for standards to follow the concepts of universal design?
The title of the article is, Educating Students About Standardisation Relating to Universal Design“. How well do Australian universities address standards in courses where universal design is part of the course?
Standardisation education is rarely taught to students in the design disciplines in academic settings, and consequently there is not much evidence about best practices. This paper examines this situation, and elaborates on some of the possible reasons for this situation. Further, it gives an example of how students may be instructed and encouraged to further their interests in standards and the standardization-making process as a means for increasing Universal Design in practice.
This article comes from the published papers from the 2016 Universal Design Conference held in York, UK, which are open access.