LESSON 1: UNIVERSAL DESIGN RULES!
|WORD BANK (presented in order of appearance and bolded in this lesson): Accessibility, functional limits, human factors, ergonomics, 'handicapped,' inclusive, adaptation, lifespan, intuitive, redundant cues, wayfinding, and... Write down others you don't understand, and ask about them when your group starts discussing Lesson 1.|
First, try this True/False UD 'pre-quiz' adapted from Truesdale and Steinfeld (2002). You may print this screen or just jot your answers on a scrap of paper. The answers can be found below in the UD Myths section that discusses common MISconceptions about UD. Then, you can politely explain the facts every time you hear a UD Myth!
T or F? 1. Since only a small number of Americans can benefit from Universal Design, we should NOT let their needs dictate for everyone.
T - F 2. Universal Design is simply good, ergonomic and human-factored design.
T - F 3. Universal Design helps only people who have physical disabilities or limitations related to old age.
T - F 4. The federal Americans with Disabilities and Fair Housing civil rights laws have created equality, so there's no need to do any more.
T - F 5. Improved medical technology is reducing the numbers of people with functional limits, thus the need for UD will be short- (not long-) term.
T - F 6. Universal Design will not survive in the marketplace because the people who need it most, can't afford such expensive UD products or features.
T - F 7. Most UD products cost even more than assistive technologies, such as power (motorized) wheelchairs.
|Quotable Quote: Instead of marketing institutional-looking structures as accessible, designers should develop universal buildings and products that are usable by all people and look no different than other designs of the same type (Mace,1989).|
The FACTS : About one-half of the U. S. population now has some temporary or permanent functional limitations. Furthermore, our abilities change over the lifespan, and they may differ among members of the same family. In short, UD can benefit everyone.
The FACTS : Past human factors and ergonomic research was applied primarily to the majority population, excluding people who could not pay high prices. When mass-produced UD products are affordable to both the majority and minority, that good ergonomic design will also be inclusive.
Mass-produced UD features also help frail, lower income elders to maintain their independence at home without increasing the taxpayer's burden to pay for in-home services.
The FACTS: UD helps many people who are neither disabled nor elderly, but who routinely face functional obstacles. They range from unusually tall adults to short children, extremely large and small people, the frail elderly, and even women in advanced pregnancy. Others who need UD include parents with children in strollers and tourists visiting unfamiliar cities where the spoken word and all the street signs are in a FOREIGN language.
The FACTS: Although the Americans with Disabilities and the Fair Housing Amendments Acts prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities, no laws have created equality or guaranteed full participation in society (yet).
Also, the access requirements in both laws focus on physical and sensory limits. UD goes beyond physical to differences in the ways people think and interpret (e.g., learning to use new products, finding their way, or understanding alarms and warnings).
The FACTS: The 'Technology Bailout' suggests that advanced nations can cure or eliminate most problems through scientific progress.In reality, functional limits have been increasing since the Seventies because the elderly population is growing much faster than younger groups.
As the Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) reaches old age, the numbers and percentages of older adults will be highest ever in the U. S. AND other developed countries. This will multiply the need for universally-designed housing, in particular.
The FACTS: UD is provided in two markets that together could create a huge demand: The free (private) market and the public sector (government assistance).
In the private market, large numbers of aging Baby Boomers with higher incomes can and will buy more usable products. Also, depending on the economy and political climate,government agencies and non-profit organizations may provide UD to lower-income people in need.
The FACTS: Many UD features cost little or no more IF included in new structures and products. Thus, less remodeling (of homes that DON'T fit) will be necessary, and IF required, they will be much less expensive.
Two UD Pioneers each developed complete and appropriate definitions. Architect Ron Mace, the 'father' of UD, created the concept. Later, pioneer Elaine Ostroff built upon Mace's original definition below.
Most designers in the UD Movement agree with at least the SPIRIT of Mace's definition. Beyond that, UD definitions may vary depending on the design challenge, the specific profession involved, marketing motives, and consumer-users' needs. Ostroff's definition (1999) says that:
As UD evolves, alternate terms often are used in
the U. S., e.g., Lifetime or Lifespan Design. In much
of Europe, the phrases, "Design for All" and "Inclusive Design"
are predominant. In early 2005, the Target Corporation adopted Design
for All as its slogan for a U. S. marketing campaign, but NOT as a synonym
for UD. Go figure!
|Quotable Quote: The ‘H-word’ stigmatizes the people it labels, thus is neither acceptable nor politically correct in the Millennium. The correct usage is: ‘a person (or people) with [a] disability(ies). (Anonymous source).|
Below are a few more UD definitions, to provide a basis for defining the concept in your own words, as you’d explain it to a friend or family member. Compare the added definitions with those by Mace and Ostroff, and circle or jot down the words and phrases that are used more than twice. Then write your own UD meaning using at least the most common words and phrases! See if you can do it in 25 words or less….
Best of all, for each Principle, we selected one or a few examples from the Images of UD Excellence CDROM (Salmen, 1996) to help you apply that Principle to potential UD products or environmental features. The designers’ names are given for each example or set. Click on each Principal, then come back to see OUR conclusions about the "UDP."Principle One EQUITABLE USE
Principle Two FLEXIBILITY IN USE
Principle Three SIMPLE, INTUITIVE USE
Principle Four PERCEPTIBLE INFORMATION
Principle Five TOLERANCE FOR ERROR
Principle Six LOW PHYSICAL STRENGTH
Principle Seven SIZE AND SPACE FOR APPROACH AND USE
Various products or features may be totally or partially universally-designed. An example that meets all seven UD Principles clearly is universally-designed. A product that meets three or fewer Principles might NOT merit the UD 'seal of approval'--although having even a few universal characteristics is MUCH better than none!
For some products and places, a given UD Principle may NOT apply. In particular, Principle 7 is UNlikely to apply to small products that are used in the hand (no surface needed). Realizing that, you'll probably agree that full Universal Design is an IDEAL. But meeting from four to six UD Principles represents real progress toward making the world a more user-friendly place for ALL.
Learn to be critical in evaluating marketing claims that a particular product or place is universally-designed. Just because the seller calls it “Universal,” doesn't mean the item meets any or all UD Principles. As the UD Concept circles the globe, several synonyms already are in use: Lifetime Design, Design for All, and Inclusive Design.
Time will tell whether the terms above are really interchangeable (i.e.,
meet the same principles). Or will other terms arise to replace them?
For now, to avoid MISunderstandings, WRONG assumptions, and UNproductive
conversations, "define your terms" with each new person.
|Quotable Quote: The long-term objective of UD or lifespan design is to create homes and workplaces that need no 'special' concessions for children, persons with disabilities, or older people (Mace, 1989).|
By now, you're probably SO ready to handle some really cool UD products! The more examples you can identify correctly, the sooner you'll have the UD Principles engraved on your brain. If your Guide doesn't have a UD Sample Suitcase or bag of small products to identify and rate, NO PROBLEM! Find one or two example UD products at your or a friends’ home. Checking store shelves is also A PLAN IF you can get advance permission so you MAY photograph some great examples and NOT be suspected of shoplifting.
Might we also suggest a Bring Your Own Example & Practice
Party'? Whatever YOU bring, do your homework and BEE READY
to defend the items as universally-usable. 'Surelock Homes' would use
the UD Principles (long OR short) to evaluate each sample BEFORE proclaiming,
'By Jove Watson, it IS Universal Design!'
| A PLEDGE: At the
Millennium, few Americans had heard of Universal Design. Many
thought that UD was ONLY for PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. Because
the UD Concept BEGAN with wheelchair accessibility, their ignorance
WAS somewhat understandable. But NOW, we want to
DO THE RIGHT THINGS! I pledge to:
After correctly matching the icons, work with your small group to discuss and answer these four questions for each short-form Principle:
Photo Credit: ZIP/Iomega Corporation.
NOTE: If each icon on the UD Principles short form DOES
create a memorable mental picture of its Principle, you should be
able to get 100% correct! Have a ball! CLICK
HERE to view and print the universal design principle
short form activity.
Does the Census subdivide the total number of people with disabilities?
If so, into what categories? See if you can identify one
or two disability groups that the 2000 Census data do NOT single
out. (Hint: Fortunately for you, the data about them usually
are available from local school districts and state departments
of social services.)
After about 20-30 minutes observing the students and teacher interacting with the space and its furnishings, try to reach two or three fairly specific conclusions about how the existing LEVEL of UD (which could be very low or even none) in that environment may enhance and/or negatively affect the students’ abilities to learn.
Think about how the room might be improved by adding selected UD
features. Take a few days for research that backs up your conclusions
and recommendations. P S: The Related Resources section (after Lesson
10) includes books about UD in schools, and you should try Googling
for school design. When your report is complete, perhaps you could
give a copy to the teacher whose classroom you observed.
Official UD icon