What is Universal Design?
According to Sheryl Burgstahler from the Center for Universal Design in North Carolina, Universal Design is
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. You have many opportunities to make products usable for all audiences. Ideally, applying Universal Design in any field means making a product or environment that all people can use without assistive devices or specialized tools. With so much to consider in developing written material, you need to use Universal Design principles to reach as many people as possible. This website is a guide for technical writers to use when implementing Universal Design in their print and web design and writing.
The Center for Universal Design, a research center that promotes Universal Design in all fields, lists seven principles to follow when designing products universally. These principles are applicable in many industries, including Technical Writing.
- Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
- Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
- Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
- Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
- Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
- Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
How to use this site
If you are new to the field of technical writing or unfamiliar with the concept of Universal Design, take time to look through the History and Rationale sections of the website to learn more about how Universal Design can improve your print and web design and writing.
If you have questions or comments about this site or Universal Design and its implementation in your writing, go to the Contact section.