Universal design, social sustainability and design

Icons for accessibility .An article focused on the social dimension of sustainability says that universal design is the way to go. It argues that there are promising results for a better future for social sustainability. In doing so, it presents universal design in all its formats in a clear and informed way. The way in which universal design is presented and discussed has particular clarity. For example, 

“Universal design is always accessible, but because it integrates accessibility from the beginning of the design process, it is less likely to be noticeable.

Universal design sometimes employs adaptable strategies for achieving customization, but it is best when all choices are presented equally. Some universal design is transgenerational, but the approach is inclusive of more than just age-related disabilities.

Universal design is sometimes adaptable and sometimes transgenerational but always accessible. Universal design, adaptable design, and transgenerational design are all subsets of accessible design. Sometimes a design can be considered to be two of these subsets, and some designs are all three. Not all accessible design is universal. Universal design is the most inclusive and least stigmatizing of the three types of accessible design because it addresses all types of human variation and accessibility is integrated into design solutions.”

The paper concludes that design schools should include the philosophy of universal design throughout their education program.

The title of the article is Applying Universal Design concept in interior design to reinforce the Social dimension of sustainability.  While the explanations of universal design are clear, the paper enters into technical areas that are not so easy to read. There are photos to illustrate points.

Tehran case study

A distance view of the city of Tehran showing high rise buildings and mountains in the background. Social sustainability and universal design.
Tehran city

Despite of the number of people injured in the Iran-Iraq war, and legislation for accessibility, urban spaces in Tehran still have a long way to go.

Hence this article outlining research on finding solutions for increasing access in the built environment. The research asks: What is causing inefficiency in the regulation of universal design, why is social participation by people with disabilities limited, and which factors are contributing to universal design? It seems the issues are worldwide regardless of whether the population is affected by war. 

The title of the article is, Universal Design and Social Sustainability in the City: The Case Study of Tehran Iran. 

From the abstract

The main goal of this research is finding solutions for increasing social interaction and greater participation of people with disabilities in public spaces by applying universal design.

The consequences show that many of problems are rooted in cultural issues. The people must attend to disability as a public concern which can involve everybody. They must comprehend that all members of society, regardless of their physical condition, have the right to use public facilities independently.

The second problem is related to lack of any integrated approach to applying universal design. This research proposes some solutions such as preparation a universal design master plan, an integrated approach for implementation project in all organizations, and public education for improving citizens’ knowledge about universal design.

The article is from the conference proceedings of: Universal Design 2016, Learning from the Past – Designing for the Future.  It is open access.


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