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Getting Creative with Universal Design

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  1. Getting Creative with Universal Design The Process and Principles of Universal Design

  2. The Process of Universal Design The process of universal design requires a macro view of the application being considered as well as a micro view of subparts of the application. Universal design can be applied to a variety of applications—Universal Design, Process, Principals, and Applications -University of Washington 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, The Center for Universal Design

  3. Identify the Application Specify the product or environment to which you wish to apply universal design. This stove has been modified to accommodate a wheelchair

  4. Define the Universe Describe the overall population (e.g., users of service), and then describe the diverse characteristics of potential members of the population for which the application is designed (e.g., students, faculty, and staff with diverse characteristics with respect to gender; age; size; ethnicity and race; native language; learning style; and abilities to see, hear, manipulate objects, read, and communicate).

  5. Involve Consumers Consider and involve people with diverse characteristics, as identified in Step 2, in all phases of the development, implementation, and evaluation of the application. Also gain perspectives through diversity programs, such as the campus disability services office.

  6. Adopt Guidelines and Standards Create or select existing universal design guidelines/standards. Integrate them with other best practices within the field of the specific application.

  7. Apply Guidelines and Standards. Apply universal design in concert with best practices within the field, as identified in Step 4, to the overall design of the application, all subcomponents of the application, and all ongoing operations (e.g., procurement processes, staff training) to maximize the benefit of the application to individuals with the wide variety of characteristics identified in Step 2.

  8. Plan for Accommodations Develop processes to address accommodation requests (e.g., purchase of assistive technology, arrangement for sign language interpreters) from individuals for whom the design of the application does not automatically provide access.

  9. Train and Support Tailor and deliver ongoing training and support to stakeholders (e.g., instructors, computer support staff, procurement officers, volunteers). Share institutional goals with respect to diversity and inclusion. Train staff on best practices to create a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive experience for everyone.

  10. Evaluate. Include universal design measures in periodic evaluations of the application, evaluate the application with a diverse group of users, and make modifications based on feedback. Develop ways for users to provide ongoing feedback (e.g., through online and printed instruments and communications with staff).

  11. Source: The Universal Design Center The Principles of Universal Design PRINCIPLE ONE: Equitable Use The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. Guidelines: 1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not. 1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users. 1c. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users. 1d. Make the design appealing to all users. Automatic sliding doors allow ease of entry and exit for all shoppers, whether pushing a cart, carrying a child or going through in a wheelchair.

  12. PRINCIPLE TWO: Flexibility in Use The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Guidelines: 2a. Provide choice in methods of use. 2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use. 2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision. 2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace. A Universal Design ATM has a large screen and keypad with braille buttons. Keypad panel is flat and low enough to access from a wheelchair. The card entry slot is marked by a visual cue for ease of visibility.

  13. PRINCIPLE THREE: Simple and Intuitive Use Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Guidelines: 3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity. 3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition. 3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills. 3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance. 3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion. A moving sidewalk or escalator is convenient for people who have difficulty walking and those who don’t.

  14. PRINCIPLE FOUR: Perceptible Information The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities. Guidelines: 4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information. 4b. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings. 4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential information. 4d. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions). 4e. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations. A thermostat with Universal Design uses tactile and pictorial cues to communicate necessary information regardless of lighting or the user’s sensory abilities.

  15. PRINCIPLE FIVE: Tolerance for Error The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. Guidelines: 5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded. 5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors. 5c. Provide fail safe features. 5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance. The “undo” button is a software feature that can correct mistakes due to accidental or unintended actions, but is beneficial to all users.

  16. PRINCIPLE SIX: Low Physical Effort The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue. Guidelines: 6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position. 6b. Use reasonable operating forces. 6c. Minimize repetitive actions. 6d. Minimize sustained physical effort. A touch lamp and a lever door knob are efficient and comfortable not only for those bothered by repetitive motion, but by someone with their hands full.

  17. PRINCIPLE SEVEN: Size and Space for Approach and Use Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of user’s body size, posture or mobility Guidelines: 7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user. 7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user. 7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size 7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance. This Universally Designed kitchen has clear floor space around appliances, with controls on the front of the appliances.

  18. References NC State University, The Center for Universal Design, (2008). About UD: Universal Design Principles. Retrieved June 20, 2008, from The Center for Universal Design Web site: