Grandchildren-running-to-greet-grandparents.jpg

Universal Design For Disabled People [7 Inspiring Principles of Universal Design]

What is Universal Design for Disabled People?

While the term ‘Universal Design’ for disabled people is often linked only to people with disabilities, it includes so much more. They encompass functional, social, and emotional dimensions found through perception, cognition, safety, health promotion, social interaction and more.  Consider these limitations:

  1. Body Fit: Accommodating a wide a range of body sizes and abilities

  2. Comfort: Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function and perception

  3. Awareness: Ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived

  4. Understanding: Making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear, and unambiguous

  5. Wellness: Contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease, and protection from hazards

  6. Social Integration: Treating all groups with dignity and respect

  7. Personalization: Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences

  8. Cultural Appropriateness: Respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental contexts of any design project

Universal design is the basic framework for the use of design and environmental access elements that will provide people with disabilities and others, with the right type of livability, usability and comfort.

The disability act provides the right treatment for the widest range of people in all situations, so that no special or separate design is required. This unique design concept is aimed at providing the maximum benefit to all classes of people who are using the spaces. Even people with disabilities can use these spaces without the necessity for any special arrangements, or assistive technology.

The principles of universal design are widely accepted now and many assisted technologies have evolved around these providing all the necessary human factors and ergonomics for convenient use even by persons with serious disabilities.

What is an example of Universal Design?

There are many products that each of use every single day at home and in the office, but we are not aware of it. Each of us walk through a door and do not notice if the device that opened the latch was a door knob, or a levered style handle. You have just used your first universal designed product without knowing.

Once you get to your office, you slide your office chair under a desk. The desk may or may not be designed for accessibility. How would you know? There are ADA guidelines that give specific measurements to height and depth for desks and tables. You may not even know if your desk is compliant unless you measure the opening.

Another example comes in the form of our communication technologies. Using a phone headset that sits on your head is easier than holding the 8″ receiver and cord that we used to use…and some offices still use.

All of us would agree that caring for each others needs should be taken care of at home, with transportation and at any business. If you enjoyed a snow trip with the family next weekend and broke your legs on the slope, then you would appreciate that your company implemented universal design for disabled people throughout the business. Just because we do not have a limitation today, does not mean that next week you will not have accessibility concerns. Each person carries some form of limitations.

The next time that your house, or office, is considering a re-design, communicate your new knowledge about how to design the space, new technologies and processes that will accommodate all people, and include others in a safer environment.

We need to provide anyone with disabilities that come in the form of mental or physical limitations to perform one or more tasks. Age, size, physical, sensory and intellectual abilities all apply to accessibility.

Information on universal design allows us to work safely and remain productive with tools, our workplace environment, work process, communication technologies, emergency procedures, HR policies and information. How do we interpret and analyze the companies work policies, safety and accommodations to complete the tasks that we are given. How about the work environment that we work in? Are the company tools, computers, furniture and safety equipment usable for all employees?

Consider making changes and updating your office for not only your employees, but also any guests or clients that come into your place of business. The first item on your list should be safety. Make sure that all EXIT signs, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are clearly marked and inform your employees where they are located. Make sure that each person is notified ‘how’ they will be alerted. Will the device be auditory, visual or vibration. Confirm to the staff that all Safety Equipment is up to date, routinely checked, location of safety procedure book and anything else that your region may deem important, such as Tsunami or Earthquake procedures.

How safe do you feel inside of your business? This is called your inclusive environment. Does your inclusive design and environmental surroundings have adequate hallway widths for wheelchairs or walkers, are there any stairs that cause limitations to access, are there electrical cords that clutter a hallway or office, is your lighting more than adequate to produce safe escape routes, are there noises from equipment that cause irritation or limitations.

Once you are inside your building, notice how accessible the signage is to escape routes, bathrooms, elevators and more. Where are the light switches? Any system or control device should be clearly marked and have an assigned employee or service that maintains those systems. Make sure that all levers, door handles, faucets or doors are properly maintained and upkept.

When you are in your office, notice some of the limitations and accessibility of your staff. Do they have proper sized and adjustable chairs that fit their bodies needs. Are desks raised or lowered to fit the persons body size. Make sure that computers have their keyboard, mouse and monitor at correct heights and placements.

Does your staff have appropriate storage at their workstation? Make sure that any storage is safe and that any ladders or step stools are adequate and safe.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating all employees or individuals with disabilities against pay, hiring, firing and promotions.  The ADA prohibits any discrimination of employment, communications, transportation, accommodations and access to programs and services.

Each of us benefit from the changes that have been made through the ADA, such as curb cuts in the sidewalk. A curb cut is the corner of the sidewalk that allow you to drive a wheelchair or cart down to the street level without jumping off of a curb.

Ron Mace –  ‘Usable by All People’

“Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” – Ron Mace

This foundation is the brainchild of Ron Mace, one of the internationally recognized architects, product designers, and educators who looked at the conditions or the users that are related to accessibility.

Ron Mace gave the name universal design to the concept of providing product design, access design elements for a user-centered design. Effective use of size and space by people with diverse abilities, regardless of size posture or mobility, and the body size posture.

Usable by all people is an important aspect that we need to insert into existing built environments, regardless of the users. You may not have a current employee with accessibility needs today, but we need to install or remodel our offices and business so that it minimizes hazards for our guests and future employees.

The Center For Inclusive Design says that we need to “create a world that is better for everyone, where everyone is considered – in the design stage, not just as an accommodation. ID goes beyond the polarised views of ‘abled’ and ‘disabled’ to focus on ‘enablement’ – at every stage of the service and product life cycle, from design and testing, to delivery, CVP and marketing communications.”

Through his Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University (www.design.ncsu.edu/cud) in Raleigh in 1989, he initiated various environmental design researches, with the support of the department of education. Many design handbooks were published and the design and use of many mobility devices were standardized for the benefit of people with handicaps and disabilities.

Ron Mace led a team of 10 members and gave the seven principles of universal design that formed the basis for the adoption of all aiding technologies providing the best user experience even for those with severe disabilities.

After 10 years these basic truths of universal design are re-evaluated based on the public feedback on the access options and the UDL guidelines that formed part of the modern design education.

This evaluation process was conducted by Edward Steinfeld, the then director of the Idea Center at the University of Buffalo.

What are the 7 principles of universal design?

In the present day, these universal design keys are being used all over the world with the help of aiding technologies. Now it is possible to provide a smooth and convenient use of various living and working spaces by all the persons satisfying all the human factors and body sizes.

With the use of these basic assumptions of universal design, the floor plan for the buildings are designed and appliances, fittings, and furnishings are selected in compliance with the following  seven principles of the modern truths of universal design namely:

Principle One: Equitable Use

This principle applies to all the design elements conceived in a construction or remodeling  of an existing structure. The equitable use principle aims to provide the full utility of the living or working space for people with diverse abilities.

The primary use of this equitable use concept is to help all users to use the space in the same way, or as close as possible.

By using the equitable use principle of universal design, there is no segregation or stigmatization of users based on their body sizes. Even the wheelchair users are provided with the right types of factors and ergonomics for the convenient use of the spaces.

This concept also aims to provide the right levels of privacy, safety, and security equally to all the users of the building or the space that is designed as per these rules of universal design. Yet another requirement of the equitable use of the spaces is that the design of the space is done in such a way that the disability act is duly taken care of and is appealing to all types of users.

Principle Two: Flexibility in Use

Another important principle of universal design is the flexibility and that it is geared towards the accommodation of various design processes out of the universal design handbook to satisfy every individual preference and the abilities.  It paves the way for the selection of the right choice in user methods and enables the installation of the required design elements that accommodate the right or left-handed use of the persons at all the spaces that have these dependable technologies in use.

The disability in the user is overcome by the use of the institutional access helping the user to get the perfect accuracy and precision of the persons who need special care using their living and working spaces.   The center for universal design has taken every care to make the universal design adaptable by every user.

Principle Three: Simple and Intuitive Use

Another strong point of the basis of universal design is the simple and intuitive use of spaces. It is offering the best chance of understanding the real meanings of the use of usable technology making the users understand the purpose of the design. This is irrespective of the experience, language skills, knowledge or concentration level of the user thereby helping in the elimination of the avoidable complexity in the design and its execution.

It is now possible to satisfy the needs of a wider range of language skills and literacy levels while undertaking the design research and giving shape to the design process. This unique process proceeds in such a way to get real feedback from the users both during and after the completion of the design-related tasks.

Principle Four: Perceptible Information

Another perceived strength of the universal design is its ability to impart perceptible information to the user irrespective of his sensory abilities and the ambient conditions in which he uses the new design features.

The concept of the universal design promotes the use of pictorial, verbal and tactile modes of communication to present the required information to the users. Sufficient contrasts separate the surroundings from the essential information meant for the users ensuring good legibility.

This type of assistive technology in the universal design is compatible with all types of techniques helping those with sensory disabilities to effectively use the design features without any difficulty.

Principle Five: Tolerance for Error

The concept of the universal design drastically brings down the negative consequences of unintended and accidental actions by properly arranging the design elements in the order of their use. Depending on the frequency of use as most accessible; eliminated, hazardous elements, isolated, or shielded.

They are provided with proper warnings as to the hazards. Using the right types of usable technologies, discouraging the unintended actions.

Principle Six: Low Physical Effort

Another important aspect of the basis of universal design, is the use of low physical effort in the usage of the designed space with minimum fatigue. This is designed in such a way that the user can help those with the disability, and can maintain a neutral body position with the use of very reasonable operating forces.

Through the right research methods, repetitive action is avoided by the user body so that space can be used with minimized physical effort.

Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and Use

The principles of universal design concentrate more on the comfort of the user with the provision of the right size and space for comfortable approach, manipulation, and effective use of the space. Regardless of the degree of mobility, the type of posture or the body size of the user.

These universal design elements also make use of the required assistive technology to provide good visibility to the important elements of whether the user is viewing them while sitting or standing.

Suitable changes to the design are also made to accommodate the range of variations that are possible in the size of the hand and the gripping ability of the users.

Emerging assistive technologies and the modern universal design background, can provide uniform design specifications for making the living and working space of the people more user-friendly. Persons with disabilities use them without any difficulty.

By using these foundations of universal design, it is possible to take care of the needs of various disability acts so that every one of the users can enjoy the fruits of the universal design.

What is Inclusive Design?

Inclusive Design puts individuals at the beginning of each design. Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and utilizing inclusive design creates benefits globally. Age, disabilities and gender used to have limits on functioning in diverse conditions, but now are able to live in inclusive settings.

Why is inclusive design important?

We all benefit universally from conditions that embrace all peoples. Whether we are old or young, disabled or have complete mobility, it is important to provide a design that all people can feel comfortable and not live in limiting environments. These inclusive designs create settings that make sure that as many individuals as possible can utilize tools or environments equally, and allow diversity to be alive while living together.

What is the difference between inclusive design and universal design?

Accessibility is a positive, while inclusive design is a method. Inclusive designs make day to day tasks easier through the implementation of accessibility. We want to make walking easier for everyone, so we install sidewalks instead of dirt paths.

Universal design focuses on products that we use daily, and then we make them so a person with no limitations…and a person with a limitation can use them universally. An example of a universal design product is a levered handle. We can all open a levered door handle on a door because it has a larger handle, compared to a door knob that has limitations due to arthritis or other ailments. A faucet with 2 knobs is difficult to control and use compared to a single levered faucet. Individuals with disabilities live in your neighborhood, and sometimes even in our family. We need to be learning UDL so that we can help make their complicated and difficult life easier.

What is an example of Universal Design?

There are many products that each of use every single day at home and in the office, but we are not aware of it. Each of us walk through a door and do not notice if the device that opened the latch was a door knob, or a levered style handle. You have just used your first universal designed product without knowing.

Once you get to your office, you slide your office chair under a desk. The desk may or may not be designed for accessibility. How would you know? There are ADA guidelines that give specific measurements to height and depth for desks and tables. You may not even know if your desk is compliant unless you measure the opening.

Another example comes in the form of our communication technologies. Using a phone headset that sits on your head is easier than holding the 8″ receiver and cord that we used to use…and some offices still use.

All of us would agree that caring for each others needs should be taken care of at home, with transportation and at any business. If you enjoyed a snow trip with the family next weekend and broke your legs on the slope, then you would appreciate that your company implemented universal design throughout the business. Just because we do not have a limitation today, does not mean that next week you will not have accessibility concerns. Each person carries some form of limitations.

The next time that your house, or office, is considering a re-design, communicate your new knowledge about how to design the space, new technologies and processes that will accommodate all people, and include others in a safer environment.

We need to provide anyone with disabilities that come in the form of mental or physical limitations to perform one or more tasks. Age, size, physical, sensory and intellectual abilities all apply to accessibility.

Universal Design allow us to work safely and remain productive with tools, our workplace environment, work process, communication technologies, emergency procedures, HR policies and information. How do we interpret and analyze the companies work policies, safety and accommodations to complete the tasks that we are given. How about the work environment that we work in? Are the company tools, computers, furniture and safety equipment usable for all employees?

Consider making changes and updating your office for not only your employees, but also any guests or clients that come into your place of business. The first item on your list should be safety. Make sure that all EXIT signs, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are clearly marked and inform your employees where they are located. Make sure that each person is notified ‘how’ they will be alerted. Will the device be auditory, visual or vibration. Confirm to the staff that all Safety Equipment is up to date, routinely checked, location of safety procedure book and anything else that your region may deem important, such as Tsunami or Earthquake procedures.

How safe do you feel inside of your business? This is called your inclusive environment. Does your inclusive design and environmental surroundings have adequate hallway widths for wheelchairs or walkers, are there any stairs that cause limitations to access, are there electrical cords that clutter a hallway or office, is your lighting more than adequate to produce safe escape routes, are there noises from equipment that cause irritation or limitations.

Once you are inside your building, notice how accessible the signage is to escape routes, bathrooms, elevators and more. Where are the light switches? Any system or control device should be clearly marked and have an assigned employee or service that maintains those systems. Make sure that all levers, door handles, faucets or doors are properly maintained and upkept.

When you are in your office, notice some of the limitations and accessibility of your staff. Do they have proper sized and adjustable chairs that fit their bodies needs. Are desks raised or lowered to fit the persons body size. Make sure that computers have their keyboard, mouse and monitor at correct heights and placements.

Does your staff have appropriate storage at their workstation? Make sure that any storage is safe and that any ladders or step stools are adequate and safe.

Please follow and like us: