Universal design isn’t a new concept, and there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the term before. It is comprised of 7 principles, supported by 30 guidelines. These components of universal design (version 2.0, published in 1997) are available on The Center for Universal Design’s website, run by NC State University.
A lot has changed since 1997. Nowadays we’re accustomed to having information at our fingertips, and instantaneously. We consume information quickly. There’s a ton of it available due to the web, which makes it necessary to filter out noise so we can focus on what matters. The 7 principles of universal design are fantastic and offer a tremendous amount of depth, especially when further explained by the accompanying 30 guidelines, but it’s a lot to digest and remember, especially if your focus is regularly elsewhere.
Focus on what matters.We simplified it. The following 4 words encapsulate every element of universal design: flexible, impartial, safe, and simple. That’s it.
Can you confidently say that your place, product, or program offers flexibility, impartiality, safety, and simplicity to accommodate and welcome the greatest number of people that’s realistically possible? If yes, congrats! You’ve got a solid idea of what universal design looks like. If this just triggered a stress response and you suddenly feel somewhat overwhelmed, that’s okay. Universal design isn’t implemented on a widespread level.
We don’t expect that everyone reading this realizes the amazing impact that universal design can actually have on our society… yet. The next chapters explain our simplification of universal design in greater detail, using the descriptors flexible, impartial, safe, and simple.[bookpagefooter]