Universal Design Principles Essay

2575 Words 11 Pages
Universal Design Principles

There are several principles that form the foundation of universal design, which is defined as “an alternate path to accessible products or services, […] that have features that enable a person with a disability to use the product or service, whether by itself or in conjunction with assistive technology” (Tobias, 2003).Thus the main purpose of universal design is to make products usable to the greatest number of people, without the use of specially designed equipment (Connell, Jones, Mace, et al, 1997). The seven design elements serve as guidelines for reaching this goal.

The first principle of universal design is to make sure that the product is usable by persons with disabilities. Equitable design means
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The design should provide warnings of potential hazards and discourage action without thought (Connell, Jones, Mace, et al, 1997). The task of universal designed products is to provide methods that require low physical effort by minimizing repetitive actions (Connell, Jones, Mace, et al, 1997, p.4). Finally, the seventh principle of universal design is the use of appropriate size and space to allow the function of the product. Products should be comfortable for users and allot room for the use of assistive devices (Connell, Jones, Mace, et al, 1997).

Laws Implementing Universal Design to the Web

The principles of universal design can be applied to the internet; however making the internet accessible for persons with disabilities is a relatively new concept. The driving force behind the need for internet accessibility for students stems from the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990 (Cooms, 2002). Accessibility, as defined by an educational thesaurus, is characteristics of facilities, programs, and services that allow them to be entered or used by individuals despite visual, hearing, mobility, or other impairments (“Accessibility (for disabled),” 2003). The Americans with Disabilities Act is “especially important for designers of education Web sites that are hosted or sponsored by a government, educational, or not-for-profit agency” (Sprague, 2003). Legal support for this increase

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