Designing a UD manual with UD

A young man stands between library book shelves. He has a large book open in his hands.Is it possible to create a Universal Design manual for architecture students that actually works? Short answer is yes, but it needs more work. A workshop was conducted during UDweek in Hasselt in Belgium to test and evaluate a manual. It seems the graphics and visual presentation worked well, but short guidelines were perceived to be too prescriptive. The different ways students prefer to access information wasn’t well catered for either. The article, Evaluating a Proposed Design-for-All (DfA) Manual for Architecture, is available from SpringerLink, or you can find most of it as a book chapter in Google Books. The full book is Advances in Design for Inclusion.  Note that they are using the European translation of universal design – design-for-all, even though the week was named UDWeek.

Abstract: This paper outlines the evaluation of a print-based Design for All (DfA) manual. The purpose was to understand if and how a DfA manual can be used as a tool to inspire students (future architects) in designing an inclusive project to transform theory into practice. The DfA manual has been used and tested during a workshop that took place at the UDweek 2016 in Hasselt, Belgium. Our results show that the manual was favorably received, particularly in the areas of the manual’s visual presentation. Conversely, short guidelines, as mean to transfer knowledge, was perceived as too prescriptive. Furthermore, more information to generate insights on users’ needs are required and the static format of the manual can’t satisfy the different ways students prefer to access information. The research provides interesting criteria on how to create a more relevant and useable DfA manual; however, further studies are required to elaborate upon these.