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How to apply universal design to any environment

Designing products or environments take into account many factors. Designers have to consider aesthetics, welfare concerns, ecological issues, engineering, industry standards, and budget. Many focus on catering for the average user. However, universal design is described as the design of products and environments that are usable to all people. Universal design (UD) is such that there is very little or no need for adaptation.

It is the design of an environment in a way that everything within the environment is accessed and used by all ages, sizes and abilities. An environment (services, products or infrastructure within the environment) should be designed to meet every person’s needs. It must meet every single person. While most designs cater to the majority and minority of the population only – universal design caters to all.

Only when an environment is available, functional, useful and pleasurable, everyone benefits. In view of the various requirements and abilities of all, universal design creates the environment that meets peoples’ necessities. To sum it up, universal design is good design.

When its principles are applied to designing products and environments, designers cater all possible users with a various characteristics. Disability is one such characteristic that designers will cater by applying UD. For example, one such male user could be six feet tall, twenty years old, good reader, and deaf. All his characteristics, including his inability to hear must be considered when developing products and environment he might use.

The application of universal design can be to any product or environment. For example, service counters in general, are not accessible to everyone. Those having a short stature, using wheelchairs and unable to stand for long will face difficulty while using the services of these counters. Applying UD to design the counter, it can be made with multiple heights. Standard height is maintained for the majority. A shorter height for the counter is maintained for those who are shorter in stature, use a wheelchair or prefer to be seated while interaction.