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Key Principles for Universal Design

Man in wheelchair in accessible kitchen

Courtesy of Center for Real Life Kitchen Design at Virginia Tech

Universal design accommodates a range of abilities and minimizes physical effort.

The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University offers the following seven principles as guidelines for making design decisions.


  1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

  2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

  3. 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.

  4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of walking ability or the user's sight and hearing abilities.

  5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

  6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility.



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