What is Universal Design?

Universal design has been described by the late Ron Mace, one of the founders of the universal design movement as “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”.

During 1997 a working group at the North Carolina State University developed the 7 Principles of Universal Design. The group, led by Ron Mace, consisted of a number of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers. The purpose of the Principles was to “guide the design of environments, products, and communications”.

The Center for Universal Design (CUD) was subsequently formed within the North Carolina State University. The CUD goals were to provide national information, technical assistance, and act as a research center to evaluate, develop, and promote accessible and universal design in the built environment and in products.  The Centers mission “is to improve environments and products through design innovation, research, education and design assistance.

The 7 Principles are:

More recently, the IDeA Center at the University at Buffalo has considered these principles and developed the 8 Goals of Universal Design which focus on social participation and health.

The IDeA Center  website states:

Thus, the Goals can be used effectively as a framework for both knowledge discovery and knowledge translation for practice. Moreover, the Goals can help to tie policy embodied in disability rights laws to UD and provide a basis for improving regulatory activities by adoption of an outcomes-based approach.

The Goals are:

  1. Body Fit
  2. Comfort
  3. Awareness
  4. Understanding
  5. Wellness
  6. Social integration
  7. Personalization
  8. Cultural appropriateness