Universal design principles

The term universal design has been defined by Christophersen (2002) as:

“The Design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaption or specialized design” (sic)

In addition, there are seven principles promoted by Christophersen alongside the definition of Inclusive design; they are:

  1. Equitable Use;
  2. Flexibility in Use;
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use;
  4. Perceptible Information;
  5. Tolerance for Error;
  6. Low Physical Effort; and,
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use.

Inclusive design is predominantly used within the UK to describe similar aspirations for the values underpinning a chosen design process.  Internationally there are many other titles given to this field of NPD: design for all; transgenerational design; design for the third age; and, barrier free design.

Now that definitions are in place within which the principles described may be applied, attention should be turned to the strategies and design tools available for use within this field and highlighting those the author have found to provide effective results and to be most cost effective. Efficacy is often considered within healthcare and for a designer or team to provide metrics and evidence of efficacy of the new product or service is vital for success in this conservative market.  These tools are applied within an activity pattern constrained by time and resources, as shown in the Usability-NET process map. Although only one route for an iterative cycle has been shown, reflection and revisiting will happen throughout the process. The number of iterative cycles that may be undertaken is constrained by time and resources.

Useful links

Christophersen, J. and Norske stats husbank. 2002. Universal design: 17 ways of thinking and teaching. Husbanken, Oslo

Design Council, (online), 2015. Silver linings: Design for an… Available at: (http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/silver-linings-designing-active-third-age), Accessed: [21/01/2021]

Pirkl, J.J., 1994. Trandgenerational design, products for an ageing population, van Norstrand Rehinhold, New York.

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (http://www.crcnetbase.com/doi/abs/10.1201/b10950-19), Accessed: [23/09/015]

Torrens, G.E., 2012. Assistive Technology product to Universal design: A way forward, Design For All India, 7 (7), pp.182-205 Available at: (https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/15736), Accessed:[23/09/2015]

University of the Third Age (online), 2015. Available at: (http://www.u3a.org.uk/), Accessed:[23/09/2015]

World Health Organisation, (online), 2015. WHO, (available from: (www.who.int/en). Accessed:[23/09/2015]