Universal Design Principles

The goal of Universal Design is to maximize usability by individuals with a wide variety of characteristics. Whether we are talking about learning strategies or physical space, Universal Design operates by a set of principles designed to maximize access by everyone.

Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. For example, a counter space or desk surface may be raised or lowered to accommodate users of varying height, or an individual who uses a wheelchair.

Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. For example, a captioned video will allow people to choose to listen or to read in order to understand content. This not only provides access to individuals with hearing impairments but also accommodates those who would rather not use sound or who comprehend better through reading.

Simple and Intuitive Use

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. For example, a website that is well-organized with clear headings will facilitate access to information.

Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. For example, a video includes a voiceover for individuals with visual impairments.

Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. For example, a hallway is free of protruding objects at a height where they would not be detectable by someone with a visual impairment who uses a cane.

Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently, comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue. For example, an automatic door opener can facilitate access to an office space or classroom.

Appropriate Size and Space for Approach and Use

Appropriate size and space is allotted for approach, reach and manipulation regardless of physical characteristics such as size or mobility. For example, a classroom includes a range of seating options, including a table for someone who uses a wheelchair or wider chairs for individuals who are taller and/or larger.