Universal design: Process that improve our thinking

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

The term first entered into usage in the mid-1980 and was introduces by an American architect,Ronald L.mace.

Globally accepted definition: Universal design means the design of a product, environment, programs, and services to be usable by all the people, to the maximum extent possible, without any adaptation of any skills.

Universal design now worldwide and practiced in different places in different ways and names.

Most common names are Design usability, Human centered design, Design for all, Participatory design, life span design.

Sustainability is the key behind all works that are carried out in the world, sustainable design leads to a sustainable society, here universal design plays a great role.

The universal design follows 3 trends :

  1. Regulation to innovation.

  2. Accessibility to inclusion.

  3. Barriers to sustainability.

Inclusion supports contribution, contribution creates quality, quality leads to growth. So to build a sustainable society all individuals should have possibilities to contribute. Hence, we can say investment in universal design is an investment in sustainability.

If the future of universal design follows these trends we can develop a more human-centered and more inclusive society with greater possibilities for everyone to participate, contribute and enjoy.

Universal design is one of the many measures to secure continuous social and economic sustainability. Small well-designed details have an impact on a national scale.

So, we must develop the concept of accessibility further, for example: making one accessible entrance for people with disabilities and another entrance for others don’t comply with our standard of equality.

“Universal design” “inclusive design” and “design for all” are all such concept that improves our thinking process and makes us think out of the box, about the environment we create. ( we produce the environment continuously).

Universal design is a continuous improvement process rather than a compliance process. The concept of Universal design represents an innovative way of thinking about the built environment. So, most of the Universal design ideas are marketable.


“Universal design is a process of innovation because

It needs people to think differently, unbiased and

Out of the box."

Thinking about universal design in this way we can gain insights into the best way to adopt and apply general knowledge about innovation.

Innovation now is diffused through a sequence of 5 activities.

Knowledge: Exposure to an innovation’s existence and some understanding of how it functions.

  1. Persuasion: Forming “a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation.”

  2. Decision: “[A]ctivities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation.”

  3. Implementation: “[P]ut[ting] an innovation into use.”

  4. Confirmation. “[R]einforcement of an innovation-decision already made or reversal of a previous decision to adopt or reject the innovation.


Knowledge is obtained through an established pattern of information collection.

“The demise of public telephone and

rapid adaptation of mobile phones is

actually a good demonstration

that universal design shows.”

Decisions to adopt universal design, on both the supply and demand side, will be heavily influenced by communications – information in media and face-to-face contact. Research has shown that the best venues to communicate the concept are through established channels, e.g. mass media for the demand side and professional and trade associations for the supply side. The concept must be clearly presented and be compatible with current ways of thinking. The public needs to know that universal design has benefits. Implementation may be more successful using an incremental approach rather than making major changes because it improves reversibility for producers.


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