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Learn About Universal Design

This section of the website serves as an introductory window into information about universal design. The concept originated through the work of architect Ronald L. Mace, who was the founder and director of The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. He coined the term “universal design”, and a common definition which stems from his work is:

The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Seven Principles of Universal Design were authored by a group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers affiliated with the Center.  These principles are commonly applied to environments, products and communications.

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Accessibility Regulations and a Universal Design Philosophy Inspire the Design Process

This 8-page web article offers that "Universal design asks designers to rethink some fundamental formal architectural concepts, to contemplate environmental equity for all kinds of users, and to consider a variety of ways the environment can be designed or adapted to accommodate people’s changing needs, such as those of the aging or of people who don’t speak the dominant language."

Architectural Record

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Accessible Design/Universal Design Resources

This website contains many links on Universal Design. The website also contains seven principles of universal design and guidelines.

Lubin, J

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Applying Universal Design to the Workplace

This three-page fact sheet “offers guidelines for applying universal design in the workplace to address the needs of employees and customers with disabilities”. The fact sheet also discusses the seven principles associated with universal design and how they can be applied to various areas of the workplace. Specific examples are provided.

DBTAC Northwest

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Global Universal Design

"GUDC (Global Universal Design Commission, Inc.) a not-for-profit corporation, was developed to establish Universal Design standards for buildings, products and services. The provided UD standards will guide corporations and government entities in the creation of barrier-free facilities, provide diverse users with access to commerce, public services, entertainment and employment opprotunities."

Global Universal Design Commission, Inc.

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RERC on Universal Design at Buffalo  (Research based)

A partnership between the IDEA Center (University of Buffalo), the Ontario Rehabilitation Technology Consortium (ORTC), and representatives from the design and disability communities nationwide. This webpage introduces their 2 research projects, 3 development projects, 4 training projects, and 6 dissemination projects as a rehabilitation engineering research center (RERC).

State University of New York at Buffalo

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It took me several years of struggling with the heavy door to my building, sometimes having to wait until a person stronger came along, to realize that the door was an accessibility problem, not only for me, but for others as well. And I did not notice, until one of my students pointed it out, that the lack of signs that could be read from a distance at my university forced people with mobility impairments to expend a lot of energy unnecessarily, searching for rooms and offices. Although I have encountered this difficulty myself on days when walking was exhausting to me, I interpreted it, automatically, as a problem arising from my illness (as I did with the door), rather than as a problem arising from the built environment having been created for too narrow a range of people and situations.

Susan Wendell, author of
The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability