Universal design is cited in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is recognised internationally. Other terms with the same goal of inclusion are ‘inclusive design’, ‘design-for-all’, ‘human-centred design’, and ‘user-centred design’.
Ten things to know about Universal Design:
1. Universal Design strives to improve the original design concept by making it more inclusive.
2. Universally Designed products can have a high aesthetic value.
3. Universal Design is much more than just a new design trend.
4. Universal Design does not aim to replace the design of products targeted at specific markets.
5. Universal Design is not a synonym for compliance with accessible design standards.
6. Universal Design benefits more people than older people and people with disabilities.
7. Universal Design can be undertaken by any designer, not just the specialists.
8. Universal Design should be integrated throughout the design process.
9. Universal Design is not just about 'one size fits all'.
10. A Universally Designed product is the goal: Universal Design is the process.
©Centre for Universal Design Australia (2021)
The Disability Act 2005 defines Universal Design, or UD, as:
1) The design and composition of an environment so that it may be accessed, understood and used
To the greatest possible extent
In the most independent and natural manner possible
In the widest possible range of situations
Without the need for adaptation, modification, assistive devices or specialised solutions, by any persons of any age or size or having any particular physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual ability or disability, and
2) Means, in relation to electronic systems, any electronics-based process of creating products, services or systems so that they may be used by any person.
National Disability Authority: The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (2020)