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Universal Design

An Introduction to Universal Design.

(click here to view a text transcript of this video)

VOICE-OVER: The idea behind ‘universal design’ is simple. It’s that everything – be it a cell phone, a computer, or a playground – should be designed so everyone has equal access to using it And no one is excluded because of a physical challenge or disability. Today, more and more products and places are using universal design to break down barriers – making life a little easier (and better) for everybody.

OZ: Universal design is really thinking about each individual and how you want to welcome them, how you want to include them. It’s creative and thoughtful. It’s beyond accessibility. It’s more about thinking of the user at all times, from the tools that you create to the accessibility to a facility.

VOICE-OVER: Think about the user of a cell phone. Sure, that person might talk on the phone. But what if talking weren’t an option? Because of universal design – that user could instead communicate by texting or by using their finger to tap the screen and access various functions on their phone. Some users answer their phones when they hear them ring, but what if the user were deaf? A universally designed cell phone can vibrate or light up to alert a user of an incoming call. It may also have the ability to dial or even search the web simply by using voice prompts. Having so many different ways to use the phone makes it accessible for everyone – and offers features that all of us may use.

OZ: Designing for just straightforward, just able bodied individuals is limiting a whole community that has not been able to participate in the past. And so universal design will include everyone – include our neighbors and our brothers and our sisters, our friends, and that’s the exciting part for me.

VOICE-OVER: What if you wanted to send an email or write a book report – but you didn’t have use of your hands? Or what if you wanted to tell someone something, but you weren’t able to speak? Universally designed computers and software can help there too. Some people who have lost their voice, simply type what they want to say and the computer speaks for them. Some people who can speak but can not use their hands, use programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking – where you to speak into a microphone, and the computer simply types it out for you. Something that saves time – and can be used by people who can type but might decide it’s faster and easier for them not to...

OZ: Any of this technology is a wonderful tool for everyone – and that’s a wonderful example of universal design. Because you may be perfectly able to type and you may be a very fast typist – and you still want to think about dragon speak because you can actually be much more efficient…

VOICE-OVER: Even places like playgrounds are now being designed so kids of all abilities can use the facility, together.

OZ: You think of universal design when you think of the way you play, the way you do homework, and it’s really helping your friends be as involved and as engaged and able to participate like you are able to participate if you didn’t have any challenges. And it’s respectful.