Principals of Universal Design

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

UD has seven principles as follows:

PRINCIPLE ONE: Equitable Use
The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

PRINCIPLE TWO: Flexibility in Use
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

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.

PRINCIPLE FOUR: Perceptible Information
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: Tolerance for Error
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

PRINCIPLE SIX: Low Physical Effort
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

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.


Medical Model vs. Social Model
Medical Model Social Model
Disability is a deficiency or abnormality Disability is a difference
Being disabled is negative Being disabled, in itself, is neutral
Disability resides in the individual Disability derives from interaction between
individual and society
The remedy for disability-related problems is cure or
normalization of the individual
The remedy for disability-related problems is a
change in the interaction between the individual
and society
The agent of remedy is the professional who affects
the arrangements between the individual and society
The agent of remedy can be the individual, an
advocate, or anyone who affects the arrangements
between the individual and society
Source: Gill, C. (1994) Two Models of Disability. Chicago Institute of Disability. University of Chicago.

Many disability service professionals would defend the accommodation model as a social model
approach. When we explore it closely and compare it to the universal design approach, it is clear that it is more aligned with medical model thinking.

Accommodation Approach vs. Universal Design Approach
Accommodation Approach Universal Design Approach
Access is a problem for the individual and should be
addressed by that person and the disability service
Access issues stem from an inaccessible, poorly
designed environments and should be addressed by
the designer
Access is achieved through accommodations and/or
retrofitting existing requirements
The system/environment is designed, to the
greatest extent possible, to be usable by all
Access is retroactive Access is proactive
Access is often provided in a separate location or
through special treatment
Access is inclusive
Access must be reconsidered each time a new
individual uses the system, i.e. is consumable
Access, as part of the environmental design, is
Source: AHEAD Universal Design Initiative Team


Perth sheds said...

Wonderful blog! I really learned a lot from this.

Karen K Koch said...

Thanks that means a lot.