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Accessibility Principles for the Physical World (Universal Design 2.0)

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Universal design got its start in the physical world. As I noted in Accessibility Principles for ICT (WCAG), universal design principles can have an impact on the digital world, too. In the physical world, universal design focuses on making spaces available and welcoming to as many different types of people and abilities, as possible, without adaptation or specialized design. It aims for a one-size-fits-all design solution that embraces the social model of disability, which says that people only experience a disability when a design creates that barrier.

As a side note, I touched on the topic of universal design during Day 93: Designing an Accessible User Experience, Part 1 of my WAS certification journey. So many of these principles that revolve around access for all tend to overlap in ideas in order to make equitable access a reality.

The 7 principles of universal design are:

  1. equitable use
  2. flexibility in use
  3. simple and intuitive use
  4. perceptible information
  5. tolerance for error
  6. low physical effort
  7. size & space for approach & use

Equitable Use

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The first principle's design guidelines say that a design should be useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities by:

Examples

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Flexibility in Use

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The second principle's design guidelines say that a design should accommodate a wide range of preferences and abilities by:

Examples

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Simple and Intuitive Use

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The third principle's design guidelines say that a design should be easy to understand how to use, regardless of a user's past experiences, knowledge, language, or focus by:

Examples

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Perceptible Information

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The fourth principle's design guidelines say that a design should communicate important information to a user, despite lighting conditions or user's sensory abilities by:

Examples

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Tolerance for Error

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The fifth principle's design guidelines say that a design should minimize hazards and consequences of accidental or unintended actions by:

Examples

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Low Physical Effort

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The sixth principle's design guidelines say that a design should be made to be used efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue by:

Examples

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Size and Space for Approach and Use

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The seventh principle's design guidelines say that a design should provide space and size for approach, reach, manipulation, and use for all body sizes, postures, and means of mobility by:

Examples

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Additional Reading

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