The trend in terminology towards using ‘universal design’ instead of ‘accessible design’ erases disability, and the need for an accessible built environment.
When issues of accessibility are raised — in physical environments, online, in the design of homes, restaurants, public spaces, websites, books, classrooms — the response is often defensive. Justifications for inaccessibility spill out of endlessly running mouths, there’s always a good reason (or seven), there’s a sense of needing to swat down any request, of […]
I am a huge advocate for universal design, because it improves everyone’s lives. If you dedicate resources at the start to making spaces accessible, you save money in the long term in addition to making environments more welcoming to all — and you might be surprised by who will benefit from accessibility. It’s not just […]
One of the most common misconceptions about universal design and accessible design in general is that it is ugly. That the focus is on functionality instead of beauty, and that the necessary modifications to create accessibility inherently ruin the lines of a structure. This is used as an excuse to go lax on development requirements […]
Resistance to accessibility often centres around cost; it’s too expensive to accommodate people with disabilities, so we should make do with whatever we can get. In particular, there’s a heavy focus on the cost burden for small businesses, by which people usually mean owner-run establishments that may have a handful of extra employees. While it […]
In communities across the United States, older adults find themselves displaced every day. No longer able to stay in their homes, they shuffle through a series of facilities offering varying levels of care and support, many of which start to seem more like warehouses than homes and actual places to live. They are forced to […]
I talk about access a lot, and the mechanics of making environments accessible to as many people as possible. Concepts like universal design, and the idea that starting from the premise that all spaces should be accessible results in more powerful, useful, flexible design. One thing I don’t address as much is the other side […]
I’ve been thinking a lot about universal design lately. For those unfamiliar with the concept, universal design is basically the idea of designing spaces to be universally accessible; both in a disability sense, and generally speaking. Design for everyone, as it were. And that includes physical spaces as well as virtual ones, from bus terminals […]