Universal Design

Everyone can use universal design! It doesn't matter if you are young or old, short or tall, disabled or an Olympic game medalist. Because of universal design, people who are very different can all enjoy the same home. And that home will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs change.

Universal design is an approach to the design of all products and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation. Universal design benefits everyone by accommodating limitations.

Universal Design Principles

1. Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
• It provides the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
• It avoids segregating or stigmatizing any users.
• Provisions for privacy, security, and safety are equally available to all users.
• The design is appealing to all users.

2. Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
• It provides choice in methods of use.
• It accommodates right or left handed access and use.
• It facilitates the user’s accuracy and precision.
• It provides adaptability to the user’s pace.

3. Simple and Intuitive

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
• It eliminates unnecessary complexity.
• It is consistent with user expectations and intuition.
• It accommodates a wide range of literacy and language skills.
• It arranges information consistent with its importance.
• It provides effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

4. Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
• It uses different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
• It provides adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
• It maximizes “legibility” of essential information.
• It differentiates elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
• It provides compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.

5. Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
• It arranges elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
• It provides warnings of hazards and errors.
• It provides fail safe features.
• It discourages unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.

6. Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
• It allows user to maintain a neutral body position
• It uses reasonable operating forces.
• It minimizes repetitive actions.
• It minimizes sustained physical effort.

7. 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.
• It provides a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
• It makes reaching to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
• It accommodates variations in hand and grip size.
• It provides adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.