Universal Design - the principles behind simple solutions

The 7 Principles of Universal Design were developed in 1997 by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, led by the late Ronald Mace in the North Carolina State University. The purpose of the Principles is to guide the design of environments, products and communications. According to the Center for Universal Design in NCSU, the Principles "may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments."

1. Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to all users with diverse abilities


2. Flexibility in Use 

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities


3. Simple and Intuitive Use

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of a user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level


4. Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the use regardless of sensory abilities


5. Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and adverse consequences, accidental or unintended actions


6. Low Physical Effort

The design allows for efficient and comfortable use with minimal effort or fatigue


7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

The design incorporates appropriate size and space provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility


In summary, these principles state a product should:

  1.  Be Equally helpful and usable for you and others.
  2.  Provide you a  choice and flexibility in how you use it.
  3.  Be Simple for to use.
  4.  Able to Communicate information to you in different ways (pictorial, verbal, and  tactile).
  5. Designed to minimize accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Be comfortable for you to use, and require little physical effort.
  7. Appropriate in size for your space for any user, regardless of your height-posture-mobility, to use comfortably.

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