4 Characteristics of Universal Design

We’re all for making universal design simple, so we took the original 7 principles and condensed them into the following 4 characteristics. The most commonly used UD principles and guidelines are found at The Center for Universal Design, affiliated with NC State University.

1. Flexible

All we are saying here is that the design can meet the needs and desires of people with different abilities. Sometimes some adaptation will be required, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Flexibility can even come naturally. (ref. principle 2)

2. Impartial

Being impartial is an intentional effort to create a design for a place, product, or program that isn’t specific for one demographic. This means that there isn’t a requirement for a person to have certain abilities to access, manipulate, or understand something. (ref. principles 1,7)

3. Safe

Remove or minimize hazards, and accidents will be reduced, or sometimes even eliminated. It’s true that people with physical limitations encounter more hazards in today’s society. (ref. principle 5)

4. Simple

The easier something is to use or understand, the more likely that people will be independent with it. It shouldn’t matter what someone’s abilities are, or what their knowledge or experience levels are. The simpler, the better. (ref. principles 3,4,6)

Check out our eBook, “Universal Design: Simplified,” to learn more.

Published by

Sarah Pruett

Sarah is a registered/licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) and a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS), with a background in physical rehabilitation.