An Accessible Environment

Universal Design is a set of design principles that can be implemented to help a space, place, or object be more accommodating to all people regardless of their physical capabilities, age, size, or mobility. Architecturally, Universal Design strives to encourage spaces, places, and objects that are both welcoming and comfortable for everyone. It has similarities to the design requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but, instead of it being a special requirement intended to benefit only a minority of people, it is a holistic design approach that aims to encourage accessible, usable, convenient, and pleasurable environments (including any buildings, products, or services in that environment).

…a set of design principles that can be implemented to help a space,
place, or object be more accommodating to all people regardless of their physical
capabilities, age, size, or mobility.

7 Guiding Principles

Universal Design is guided by seven principles. They include:

Principle 1: Equitable Use
People with diverse range of abilities find the design both useful and marketable

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
A wide range of individual preferences and abilities is accommodated by the design

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
Regardless of a user’s knowledge, experience, language abilities, and mental acuity the design is easy to use and understand

Principle 4: Perceptible Information
Regardless of ambient conditions (noise, light levels, etc.) or the user’s sensory abilities the design continues to communicate the necessary information

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
The design minimizes hazards, errors, and the unintentional consequences of accidental actions

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
Efficient, comfortable, and effective use of the design is achieved with a minimum of effort and fatigue

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Regardless of a user’s size, posture, or mobility, the size and space provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use is appropriate

Universal Design benefits individuals, society as a whole, business, and our shared legislative/standards environment. It does so in the following ways:

Individual Benefits:

  • User-friendly
  • Convenient to use
  • Easy to use

Benefits to Society:

  • Allow individuals to live independently
  • Increased participation in society
  • Appreciation of every person’s abilities