Universal Design: The
design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to
the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized
The authors, a working
group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental
design researchers, collaborated to establish the following Principles
of Universal Design to guide a wide range of design disciplines including
environments, products, and communications. These seven principles may
be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and
educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more
usable products and environments.
Principle 1: Equitable
The design is
useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
1a. Provide the same means of use
for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing
1c. Provisions for privacy, security,
and safety should be equally available to all users.
1d. Make the design appealing to
- Power doors with sensors at entrances that
are convenient for all users
- Integrated, dispersed, and adaptable seating
in assembly areas such as sports arenas and theaters
Principle 2: Flexibility
wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
2a. Provide choice in methods of
2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed
access and use.
2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy
2d. Provide adaptability to the
- Scissors designed for right- or left-handed
- An automated teller machine (ATM) that
has visual, tactile, and audible feedback, a tapered card opening,
and a palm rest
Principle 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.
3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
3b. Be consistent with user expectations
3c. Accommodate a wide range of
literacy and language skills.
3d. Arrange information consistent
with its importance.
3e. Provide effective prompting
and feedback during and after task completion.
- An instruction manual with drawings and
- A moving sidewalk or escalator in a public
4: Perceptible Information
communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless
of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
4a. Use different modes (pictorial,
verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
4b. Provide adequate contrast between
essential information and its surroundings.
4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential
4d. Differentiate elements in ways
that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions
4e. Provide compatibility with
a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory
- Tactile, visual, and audible cues and
instructions on a thermostat
- Redundant cueing (e.g., voice communications
and signage) in airports, train stations, and subway cars
Principle 5: Tolerance
The design minimizes
hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended
5a. Arrange elements to minimize
hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous
elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
5b. Provide warnings of hazards
5c. Provide fail-safe features.
5d. Discourage unconscious action
in tasks that require vigilance.
- An "undo" feature in computer
software that allows the user to correct mistakes without penalty
- A double-cut car key easily inserted
into a recessed keyhole in either of two ways
Principle 6: Low
The design can
be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral
6b. Use reasonable operating forces.
6c. Minimize repetitive actions.
6d. Minimize sustained physical
- Lever or loop handles on doors and faucets
- Touch lamps operated without a switch
Principle 7: Size
and Space for Approach and Use
and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use
regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
7a. Provide a clear line of sight
to important elements for any seated or standing user.
7b. Make reach to all components
comfortable for any seated or standing user.
7c. Accommodate variations in hand
and grip size.
7d. Provide adequate space for
the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.
- Wide gates at subway stations that accommodate
- Controls on the front and clear floor
space around appliances, mailboxes, garbage dumpsters, and other
These Principles of Universal Design address
only universally usable design, while the practice of design involves
more than consideration for usability. Designers must also incorporate
other considerations such as economic, engineering, cultural, gender,
and environmental concerns in their design processes.
The principles offer designers guidance to
better integrate features that meet the needs of as many users as possible.
All Guidelines may not be relevant to all designs.
Version 2.0 4/1/97
© Copyright 1997 NC State University, The Center for Universal
Compiled by advocates of universal design, listed in alphabetical order:
Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick,
Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story, & Gregg Vanderheiden
Return to the 7 Principles