Universal Design Principals

Multiple U.S. federal laws dictate accessibility requirements in the built environment as well as access to programs, activities and services. While it is necessary to understand and adhere to any and all specific laws, ‘Universal Design’ is a larger concept that has evolved over time and across political boundaries. Understanding these basic principals helps one appreciate the overall goals of various fair housing and accessibility regulations. Once again, it all comes down to customer service, and expanding our notion of potential customers as broadly as possible.

While some see regulation as a burden, many professional see Universal Design principals as a great way to inspire creativity and innovation. Meeting the multiple challenges of simplicity of use and universal access can result in elegant and timeless design that is appreciated by all who encounter it in daily use.

1. Equitable
Provide equitable access for everyone in an integrated and dignified manner. Design should appeal to everyone and provide an equal level of safety for all users.

2. Flexible
The built environment or product accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities throughout the user’s lifespan.

3. Simple and Intuitive
The layout and design is easily understood by users with a wide range of experience or cognitive ability. Design elements .

4. Perceptible Information
Information should make use of multiple senses when possible. Visual, audible or tactile methods expand utility, safety and effectiveness of the environment or product.

5. Tolerance for Error
The goal here is to reduce the chance of unintentional misuse or injury by anticipating various user abilities and perceptual styles.

6. Low Physical Effort
The environment or product should accommodate users with limited strength, stamina or dexterity..

7. Size and Space for Approach and Use
Design should reflect the needs of diverse individuals to easily access and use space, equipment and controls. All potential users should be able to reach, see and operate all elements of the home or product safely.