What is Universal Design?

Universal Access and DesignThe term “universal design” come from the world of architecture where the initial goal was to build buildings that provided “barrier free” access to persons with disabilities. But the goal was quickly expanded to create features in the building design that helped all people, not just those with disabilities.

One of the best examples of universal design in buildings are automatic doors often found at the entrances of stores and malls. The automatic door opens through some mechanical means that senses the person approaching the doorway affording them the opportunity to get through the entrance “hands-free.” While these fixtures clearly help people who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices, they also help everyone using the doorway whether that be a busy shopper with their arms full of groceries or a parent pushing a stroller.

Accessible and Universal Web Design is based on the principles of Universal Design. Accessible and Universal Web Designmeans designing services and resources for people with a broad range of abilities and disabilities.

Accessible and Universal Web Design:

  • promotes equitable use.
  • builds flexibility into the resource so that it can accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • is simple and intuitive.
  • allows for duplication of information in several formats, e.g. written, spoken.
  • requires minimal physical effort.

Using Accessible and Universal Design Principles will ensure that your site is accessible to a wide range of visitors. Web sites designed to meet these accessibility standards are also Search Engine Optimized (SEO) and work better on a variety of hand-held devices like “smart phones,” iPads and iPods.

jebswebs has taken the concept of universal design and applied it to our web design business. Our goal is to make all websites universally design and accessible to all users. By building Accessible and Universal Design features into our webs, we make them more usable for all people.

Read more about Universal Design on Wikipedia and The Center for Universal Design at NCSU

We have also provided a list of resources about Accessible Web Design on the Maine CITE website

This article was adapted from a description by researchers at the Trace Research and Development Center and found on the University of Washington’s – DO IT site