Sunday, June 22, 2008

Universal Design

Universal design is defined as "the designing of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design," according to the University of Washington School of Architecture and Urban Planning. According to specialists in aging, good universal design is invisible and enhances the quality of life for everyone.

Universal design combines the elements of safety, convenience and comfort in a way that is appealing to everyone, including parents with children, the disabled and the elderly. There are a number of attractive products and design modifications to adapt a home for aging in place or workplace for everyone.

Some changes are relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Others may require the assistance of a professional. Certified aging-in-place specialists have completed a nationally recognized educational program in universal design specifically for the aging.

There is an offshoot of Universal Design called Universal Design for Instruction that teachers should be aware of. UDI considers proactive consideration of everyone's needs in designing learning spaces, courses, and instruction.

There are many organizations, universities, and web resources to learn more about Universal Design. Any Design Education program should include discussion and projects including Universal Design.

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