Designing Without Limits

by May 20, 2021

Home » The Disability Inclusion Blog » Universal Design » Designing Without Limits

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to designing products and environments for the masses. When architects, engineers, and product designers create something new, they ensure the facility, information, and merchandise can be used, accessed, and understood by the greatest number of people, regardless of their diverse needs and abilities.

Ronald Mace, an architect, industrial designer, and wheelchair user, developed the concept in the 90s. While UD was the brainchild of a wheelchair user, it goes well beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Let me help you understand how.

Imagine that you are in front of a drink cooler at the store. Iced tea is arranged on the top row of the cooler horizontally. Coke is below that, then Mountain Dew, and finally, water. You’d like an iced tea.  Can you reach it? 

Maybe you are tall enough to reach the iced tea, maybe not.  Perhaps you use a wheelchair or have limited mobility in your arms.  Regardless, not everyone will be able to get the iced tea without assistance.

Now imagine that same drink cooler, with the drinks rearranged.  Each of the four horizontal rows are now identically organized: iced tea, Coke, Mountain Dew, water.  Can you reach your iced tea now?  Tastes pretty refreshing, right?

This is a perfect example of UD in action. It’s not an accommodation for some, it’s a design change that increases access for all. Universal design is also a critical tool in allowing people to fully participate at work and the community at large.  I’ve created a short but insightful quiz that can help you determine where you fall on the accessibility, inclusivity, and equality scale. Take it and find out how you rate.

Related posts:

Universal Design Certification

Universal Design Certification

Wondering how to implementing a universal design strategy into an organization’s built environment? We believe that a program for Universal Design certification should be implemented with the following key concepts:

read more
Accessible Hotels: Sheraton Gateway, LAX

Accessible Hotels: Sheraton Gateway, LAX

As part of my series on the accessibility of hotels I visit as I travel around the country, I wanted to highlight this hotel, the Sheridan Gateway LAX Airport in Los Angeles, California. Now, of all of the hotels I’ve visited to date, this room in particular was the least accessible. You’ll find it very interesting, certainly if you follow the series and as we compare the hotels from one to the next.

read more
Accessible Hotels: New Jersey

Accessible Hotels: New Jersey

Knowing I would be staying at several different hotels throughout a trip to California, I decided to take the opportunity to create a series of videos on hotel accessibility. Find out what made the fourth hotel room I stayed at the least accessible.

read more

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *