Are UD and ID rivals?

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 userFrom the Editor: This week I came across an article by John Harding who writes about rivalry between universal design and inclusive design. While I have encountered people who believe there are nuanced differences, I cannot agree that the concepts are rivals, academically or otherwise. A rivalry point of view is contrary to the work of advocacy groups striving for more inclusive societies. Indeed, “universal design” is cited in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability as the means by which to create inclusion. It is also cited by WHO guidelines for age-friendly cities.

Harding, in his dense academic paper, appears to base his argument on universal design being about the “widest range of users”, whereas inclusive design is about “offering everyone access”.  He then goes on to claim that universal design is “first generation” and inclusive design is “next generation”. 

Using a study of transportation in UK, Harding proposes that the “rivalry” between UD and ID hasn’t helped the cause for inclusion. I believe the barriers to inclusion are far more complex than terminology. However, terminology is very important to academics if they want to compare their work. 

Whether you use universal or inclusive, the aim is to cater to diversity, and that includes diverse ways of explaining universal/inclusive design for an inclusive world. Most academics use the terms interchangeably and include “Design for All”.

The paper is open access on ResearchGate. Have a look and see what you think. The title of the paper is “Agent based modelling to probe inclusive transport building design in practice”. 

It should be noted that John Harding is based in the UK where they have stuck by the “inclusive design” term throughout, whereas Europe has favoured Design for All, and most other countries have followed the UN Convention and use universal design. Most academics recognise the convergence of concepts rather than rivalry.

Jane Bringolf

Quotable quotes on universal design

Wall banner saying The essence of universal design lies in its ability to create beauty and mediate extremes without destroying differences in places, experiences and things. A quotable quote on universal design.There are many definitions and explanations of universal/inclusive design. But sometimes the concept is expressed better by the way people talk about it. Here are some quotable quotes on universal design.

The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA) located at the University at Buffalo has a banner. The text reads,

The essence of universal design lies in its ability to create beauty and mediate extremes without destroying differences in places, experiences, and things”. It is attributed to Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, Designers. 

The website of Design and Architecture Norway (DOGA) explains:

“In simple terms, design thinking is about recognizing the designer’s methods for connecting the user’s needs with what is technologically possible and which provides a real market value. 

Slide at a conference with the words, good design enable. Bad design disables.The universal design conference held in Dublin 2018 began with the words, “Good Design Enables. Bad Design Disables. The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design has a good, but wordy description of universal design.

Apple is well-known for making their products really easy to use. Here is a quote from Steve Jobs:

“Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
Steve Jobs, former CEO, Apple

The signboard say, Diversity is a fact, Equity is a choice, Inclusion is an action Belonging is an outcome.

The text in the sign by Arthur Chan says:

Diversity is a fact.

Equity is a choice.

Inclusion is an action.

Belonging is an outcome.

All are part of a universal design approach.

From the Editor: I met Judith Heumann on a study tour when she was disability advisor to The World Bank in 2004. She said to me,

“There are only two kinds of people in the world: people with disability and people yet to have a disability.” 

She also said that it is easier to change the design of the environment than it is to change attitudes and that’s why universal design is important. 

Judith’s TEDx talk is worth a look. It reminds us how she was treated at school as a wheelchair user and how she became a disability advocate.

Overheard at a workshop:

“So if you design for the extremes you include the middle”

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