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Universal Design

What is Universal Design or UD?

Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.  This concept was born out of architecture and design, but has great potential to impact disability-related access.  

UA's Commitment

The University of Arizona is committed to an inclusive and welcoming experience for all students, staff, faculty and guests.  We believe that as we design University experiences, from classes, tests, events or programs, we have a responsibility to identify and remove barriers to access.  If we incorporate access into our design initially, it may reduce or eliminate the need for individual accommodations and increase the level of inclusion and participation of all users. 

UA considers Universal Design broadly.  For example,

  • In the physical environment, we have guidelines for all campus planning, design and construction. 
  • In the technology environment, through a campus-wide IT accessibility committee that looks at accessibility of technology.
  • In the curricular environment, through consultation with faculty on Universal Design for Learning

Seven Principles of Universal Design

  1. Equitable use | The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
  2. Flexibility in use |The design accommodates a wide range of preferences and abilities.
  3. 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.
  4. Perceptible information | The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for error | The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low physical effort | The design can be used efficiently and comfortable and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and space for approach and use | Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

The Arizona State Museum is a beautiful example of a recent renovation project that incorporated Universal Design principles and maintained the historical and original characteristics so important to the museum. 

Arizona State Museum