Universal Design

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet people's needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.


Universal Design at a Glance

Universal Design has evolved in the following manner over the past decades :

  • For the first time, in the 1970s, American architect Michael Bednar introduced the idea that everyone's functional capacity is enhanced when environmental barriers are removed. He suggested that a new concept beyond accessibility was needed that would be broader and more "universal."
  • In 1987, a group of Irish designers succeeded in getting a resolution passed at the World Design Congress that designers everywhere should factor disability and aging into their work.
  • In the U.S., Ron Mace, an architect who had polio as a child and used a wheelchair and a ventilator, started using the term “Universal Design;” He made the case that Universal Design is "not a new science, a style, or unique in any way. It requires only an awareness of need and market and a commonsense approach to making everything we design and produce usable by everyone to the greatest extent possible."

Universal design primarily comes from a mindset. It requires an understanding of what it is like for people with diverse abilities and limitations to use it products and services. Because the issues are essentially person-centred rather than technology-centred, it is important to be able to see things from the perspective of users

The following skills also come in handy :

  • Technical Awareness
  • High levels of Creativity
  • Innovative attitude
  • Persistence
  • Ability to see the big picture
  • Attention to small details
  • Business Intuition, etc.

About Universal Design Schools

Sr No. College/Institute Location Courses Seats
1. NID Bengaluru M.Des in Universal Design 15

General Universal Design programs focus on :

  • Universal Design Thinking
  • Research work
  • Strategic Approach
  • The use of latest technologies and
  • The cultural scenarios of the society

At the end of the program, the students achieve the ability to create ideas that suit the social, technical, and marketing scenarios.

About the Work Industry/Job Market

Universal design can be applied to any product or environment in a number of industries such as :

  • Architecture/Physical Spaces
  • Interior Design
  • Furniture Design
  • UX/UI Design
  • Apparel Design
  • Accessory Design
  • Construction & Engineering
  • Service Sector
  • IT Sector

Universal designers can work in the following job roles :

  • Accessibility Consultant
  • Creative Coordinator
  • Instructional Designer
  • Web Developer / Accessibility Specialist
  • UX Designer - Accessibility
  • Product Manager - Accessibility
  • Universal Architect

  • Universal design has been a growing trend in architecture, particularly over the last decade as populations have skewed older. The following home trends ensure that the house is more available to anyone who will live in it in the future:
    • Single-storey homes with ramp access
    • Wider elevators to accommodate wheelchairs
    • Wheelchair accessible bathroom fixtures, including shower spaces
    • Lower kitchen countertops and appliances
    • Re-designed handles and door hardware
  • While there are many architects and contractors pushing for universal design, it’s interesting to note that the majority of the push is coming from consumers.
  • This represents a shift in the way we think about homes and in the way they are designed and built.
  • Universal design intersects with sustainability. Take for example, LED lights. Not only do LEDs save energy, but this technology also allows for installation of lighting in drawers, cabinets, along countertops — almost any place that might benefit from illumination.

Freshers can work in the following companies :

  • Design Factory India
  • Clarice Technologies
  • Mooncraft Innovation Labs
  • Rezonant Design Services, etc.