1. Laying the Foundation for Universal Design
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1. Laying the Foundation for Universal Design

Narrator: What do you think
when you hear the term “universal design”? Do you think about
a design for all? Do you think about a building that is accessible
to all people? Do you think about a product that is simple and intuitive
for all users? What about a website
that can be accessed by someone
using a screen reader? Architect Ron Mace
is credited with coining the term
“universal design”. He defines it as “The design
of products and environments “to be usable by all people,
to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation
or specialized design.” The intent of universal design
is to simplify life for everyone
by making products, interfaces, and space more usable by
as many people as possible. Throughout this video series
we will dive into the seven principles
of universal design and how they are applied
in a practical way at home, in the community,
and in the workplace. Anil Lewis: Universal design
means that whatever product or service
an individual who is able-bodied can use, that I, as
a blind person, could use. Someone that uses
a wheelchair could use it. Someone who’s deaf or hard
of hearing could use it. So I think that what
we’re talking about there, it’s not necessarily
something uniquely different; it’s just a different
way of thinking. The innovators
that are out there when charged
with the responsibility of creating tools
or strategies, really kind of step up
to that challenge. Ricardo J Gomes: It’s when
someone is in a wheelchair or someone is visually disabled,
and if they’re in a wheelchair and they are moving
along the pathway or going about their business
without any problem and then they come
to a building and now they are
confronted with stairs, the stairs now have impeded
or disabled that person
from entering that building. It’s not that the person
was disabled; it’s the design of the building that disabled them
from entering it. David Banes: I think one of
the really important things around universal design is the notion that
by using universal design to support employees
with a disability, you’re supporting your customers
in a variety of different needs. I think the classic example
was always by putting in ramps, handrails, and so on. This was very effective
for people who are carrying
wheeled luggage, pushing baby buggies,
and so on. Ricardo J Gomes: And I always
like to tell students when you deal with
design issues or problems, you want to start at the home
and you want to end at the home, but from the home you have
to go to the workplace or to the study place
or to the recreation place or to the community place. Peter Korn: And so the best
universal design is products that don’t even feel like
they have a wheelchair ramp, that don’t even feel like there
was any explicit thought for a special path
for someone with a disability; it’s the same path
that everyone uses. Narrator: Universal design
is not about compliance with legal guidelines and codes like you will find
under the Americans with Disabilities Act
accessibility standards. The ADA is intended to ensure
equal access in employment, Title I, in programs
and activities in state and local government,
Title II, and in accessing
goods and services offered in public spaces,
Title III. Dmitri Belser: We looked
at the ADA. We threw the ADA out,
and we kind of started over because we wanted
to really think about, not satisfying guidelines, but really how people with
disabilities will use a space. We brought people with all
different disabilities together, and also brought people
with multiple disabilities together, you know. So how does a deaf, blind person
use this space? How does someone
who is a wheelchair user who is also deaf
use the space? Mike Galifianakis: So then when
you think about universal design,
universal design is going beyond the
minimum requirements of the law. Universal design
is a concept that says design
an environment or product so that it’s usable to everyone
to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptive
or specialized design. So you’re taking
an accessibility consideration and universally
designing it so that you’re not
necessarily having to do it for an individualized
situation. Joy Zabala: I laughingly talk
about the myth of the accessible bathroom,
you know, because there are
so many ways that you can meet
the intent of the law, and still it doesn’t meet
everyone’s needs. You have to look at sort of that
notion of not just one solution, but multiple solutions
built in so that there’s flexibility in the
solutions that are available. And I think with technology, the whole notion
of universal design, thinking about more
than one way to perceive, more than one way to interact, more than one way to respond,
is critical. Narrator: Even with these
legal guidelines, this does not require
the use of universal design. Rather, these standards
usually result in accessibility as an afterthought. Universal design is a set
of performance guidelines that explains
why it should be done. It is meant to be invisible,
providing one design that can accommodate people
of all abilities.

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