RAD Renovations by Accessible Housing
Universal Design for Accessibility

Seven Universal Design Principles

If you’ve heard the term “Universal Design” and asked yourself what exactly does it mean? Don’t worry. Our latest blog will look at what it means and why it is crucial.


So, what is Universal Design all about?

Universal Design, Inclusive Design, or Barrier-Free Design, as defined by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, is the design and structure of an environment to be understood, accessed, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age or ability.

The original concept of universal design was developed in the late 90s by architect and industrial designer and wheelchair user Ronald Mace. Mace and a group of architects, product designers, engineers, and environmental design researchers developed seven principles to help guide the design process.


The Seven Basic Principles of Universal Design

  • Principle 1: Equitable Use. Practical and marketable design for people with diverse abilities.
  • Principle 2: Flexibility in Use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use. The use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Principle 4: Perceptible Information. The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Principle 5: Tolerance for Error. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Principle 6: Low Physical Effort. The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with minimal fatigue.
  • Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use. Appropriate size and space are provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.


But wait, where are these universally designed places and products? Universally designed places and products are all around us. You’ve probably used one (or all these things) without even realizing it. A few that you probably use every day are the curb cut and power-assisted doors.


Curb cuts and power-assisted doors are necessary for access for people with mobility impairments. They also benefit a worker transporting items with a cart, a parent pushing a small child in a stroller, someone using a wheeled briefcase, and a person carrying a bulky item and trying to open an exterior door.

Some other examples of universal designed places or products are:
• Ramp entrance
• Lever door handles
• Flat-panel light switches
• Task lighting


Why should we care about universal design?

Universal design is imperative because it’s inclusive if a space is accessible, usable, and convenient for everyone regardless of age or ability. An accessible school, library, community center, or park means everyone can participate fully in their community.


As our population ages, the need and desire for accessible and inclusive communities will only grow. With older age comes mobility, vision, and hearing challenges. Many of us will need universally designed spaces to continue to be part of our communities and live our lives to their full potential.


Interested in learning more about what you can do to implement the seven guiding principles of universal design? Book your free consultation with RAD Renovations today.