While the concept of Universal Design is relatively new to the world of architecture and design, there is an increasing demand for more inclusive spaces and products that promote accessibility, safety and convenience for an increasingly diverse population and their wide range of needs.
The expectation to ensure all people, regardless of age, size, cultural identity, ability or disability are treated equally in building environments is quickly becoming the norm across the globe. For this reason, project managers should consider integrating Universal Design strategies into their plans regarding products and spaces.
Architects, product designers, engineers and environmental designers can become true innovators in optimizing Universal Design integration by considering the following:
1. Body fit: Designing spaces and utilizing products that accommodate a wide range of body sizes and abilities
2. Comfort: Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function
3. Awareness: Ensuring that information regarding use of integrated Universal Design strategies is easily perceived
4. Understanding: Making methods of operation and use intuitive and clear
5. Wellness: Contributing to promotion of health on a holistic level, avoidance of disease, and prevention of injury
6. Social integration: Treating all groups with dignity and respect
7. Personalisation: Incorporating opportunities for choice and expression of individual preferences
8. Cultural appropriateness: Respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project
By implementing Universal Design into new and existing building projects, we are truly designing for this diversity – a philosophy that, when applied, benefits everyone!