Edward Steinfeld on the Goals of Universal Design


IDEA Center banner.jpgEdward Steinfeld, Arch. D., AIA is professor of Architecture and Director of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center). His leadership in the area of Universal Design includes formulating the Seven Goals of Universal Design below.

Read them in conjunction with the traditional Seven Principles of Universal Design to see how they provide a clarification and a corrective to widespread mistakes such as confusing Universal Design with a minimalist compliance-with-minimum-standards approach instead of a robust inclusive design process:

Universal design increases usability, safety and health through the design and operation of environments, products and systems in response to the diversity of people and abilities. It is a way of thinking that can be applied in any design activity, business practice, program or service involving interaction of people with the physical, social or virtual worlds. There are seven goals of universal design. The first four are related to support for activities. The second three are related to support for social participation:

* Body fit - accommodating a wide a range of body sizes and abilities
* Comfort - keeping demands within desirable limits of body function and perception
* Awareness - insuring that critical information for use is easily perceived
* Understanding - making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear and unambiguous
* Social integration - treating all groups with dignity and respect
* Personalization - incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences
* Appropriateness - respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project.

The practice of universal design is evolutionary in character. There are no absolute levels of performance since each project context determines what can be achieved. It is a continuous improvement process and can be implemented regardless of constraints or the level of technology available.

Edward Steinfeld,  Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center).

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