The 7 Principles of Universal Design

There are seven principles of universal design. Universal design is a building concept that requires spaces to be built in a way that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of your physical ability. The principles that underly this concept are as follows:

  • Principle 1: Equitable use
  • Principle 2: Flexibility in use
  • Principle 3: Simple and intuitive use
  • Principle 4: Perceptible information
  • Principle 5: Tolerance for error
  • Principle 6: Low physical effort
  • Principle 7: Size and space for approach and use

Read more about each of these principles below.

Principle 1: Equitable Use

The principle of equitable use states that the design should be useful and marketable to people with diverse ability. This principle promotes the creation of a space that can be enjoyed by all. The space should not create separate or segregated areas based on ability. Privacy concerns should be met in the same manner for everyone. The design should appeal to all users, regardless of their ability.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use

A universal design accommodates a wide range of different and individual tastes. It provides for left- and right-handed people. It also allows for different personal preferences in how a space is used. It can handle differences in precision and accuracy as people use the space.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use

This principle focuses on the space being easy-to-use and easy-to-understand. Regardless of prior experience or exposure to the space, people should be able to learn and adapt almost immediately without a complex set of instructions to read. The space should accommodate different learning styles and modes of learning, including language.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information

The principle of perceptible information takes into account our learning modalities (the ways we learn) and incorporates them into the space. Universal design will accommodate individuals whose sensory perceptions are more physical or tactile in the same manner as those individuals whose sensory perception and is more auditory.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error

The space will make allowances for accidental use or misuse of the space. Universal design accomplishes this goal through the use of fail-safes, warnings, signals and overrides. Such methods allow people to continue using the space and properly adapt to the correct or intended use.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort

A universal space is designed for individuals with different expectations and diverse abilities. This sixth principle requires that the space be designed in a way that requires the lowest amount of effort and fatigue on part of the user.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use

In the final principle of universal design, the space should accommodate and make allowances for any size of person (whether small or large, in a wheelchair, and so forth).