It’s foolish for us to assume that you already understand what universal design is. We’re not calling you stupid, but universal design often gets confused with what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is all about – accommodating people with disabilities.
Universal design doesn’t place focus on people with disabilities. Instead, it recognizes that no one has the same definition of “normal.”Universal design doesn’t place focus on people with disabilities. Instead, it recognizes that no one has the same definition of “normal.” Universally-designed places, products, and programs inherently offer access, use, or participation to the greatest number of people, regardless of their level of ability.
The idea of acknowledging that “normal” can be interpreted differently by anyone is pretty revolutionary. We’re accustomed to seeing the world through our eyes, not someone else’s. That’s okay. What’s not okay is creating labels for others that may struggle with something that the majority of people don’t have an issue with. This is the crux of what creates a victim mentality in someone who then might feel categorized as disabled – or simply different – just because of a mental or physical imperfection.
Our mission is “to promote increased independence and quality of life for people of all abilities at home and in the community.”Our mission is “to promote increased independence and quality of life for people of all abilities at home and in the community.” We have absolutely no desire for people to feel that they are victims of disability because of mental or physical issues that are out of their control to change. Instead, we want to see people empowered to tackle life, regardless of their imperfections.
As a member of society, you have the ability to empower others by infusing universal design into the things you work on or are a part of. As more and more places, products, and programs offer increased access, use, or participation to the greatest number of people, those with less-than-perfect lives will naturally feel welcome – and less “different” – alongside everyone else.
Universal design will create a greater likelihood for increased independence and success in all areas of life…Chances are good that you’re thinking this: “So? What’s in this for me?” That depends on your perspective. If you’re a business or organization, providing accessibility features for your patrons or employees can be a headache. Universal design is a solution, though admittedly not always the easiest to implement if you’re not in a design phase. That said, if you are in the middle of a design phase, don’t overlook an opportunity to implement universal design characteristics into what you’re working on!
Universal design will minimize future accessibility-related issues, because accessibility will be built-in already. If you’re an individual with a mental or physical imperfection (or have a friend or family member with one), you may be finding yourself in a position of needing assistance, or providing a lot of support to someone who does. Promoting the implementation of universal design – anywhere – will create a greater likelihood for increased independence and success in all areas of life for yourself and/or the people in your life.[bookpagefooter]