As we work to become a more inclusive society, it’s important that we not only change our attitudes, but the places we live, work, and play.
Approximately 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability — and everyone can benefit from having disabled people's inclusion and perspectives.
Accessible spaces benefit everyone — not just people with disabilities. This design principle is called universal design.
Universal and accessible design is SO important.
Universal design benefits everyone
Universal design is is creating products, environments, and systems that are usable and beneficial to the widest range of individuals — regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability. It seeks to eliminate barriers and accommodate diverse user needs from the outset, rather than relying on retrofits or specialized adaptations later on.
It seeks to create solutions that are flexible, intuitive, and usable by as many people as possible, from the start,.
Accessible and universal design ensures that all individuals can participate fully in society. It promotes inclusivity and equality by removing barriers and providing equal opportunities for everyone. It even helps prevent discrimination — ensuring people with disabilities can enjoy the same rights and privileges as others.
And that isn't limited to people with disabilities. For example, accessible spaces also benefit people with strollers, carts, or temporary injuries.
These design features don't need to be big — they just need to be considered. Sometimes, the smallest things make the biggest difference. For example, lowering light switches, choosing lights that don't buzz, or adding non-slip mats can change someone’s entire experience.
Accessible and universal design considers:
The use of mobility aids and assistive devices
Differences in size
The need for various cues: visual, auditory, and tactile
Low risk and consequences of errors or accidents
Simple, straightforward instructions or signage
Creating accessible spaces isn’t just one-and-done. It’s an ongoing process. Listen to feedback from people with disabilities and make improvements to accessible spaces when they are needed, and we can all live in a more inclusive world.