Universal Design: The Users’ Perspective
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Davis, Ann Marie
Danielson, Lola D.
Taylor and Francis
Is Version Of
The intent of Universal Design is to create an atmosphere where everyone is treated equally regardless of ability level, and where people with disabilities are not separated from the rest of society. This follows the intent of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which established a clear and comprehensive prohibition against discrimination based on disability. A major mid-western university recently completed a self-evaluation, as mandated by the ADA. The self-evaluation included input from a representative group of twelve people, including students, faculty, and staff members with disabilities. The participants provided evidence and documentation for recommending building alterations, and evaluated the adequacy of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) in meeting universal design goals. Participants toured selected buildings and were asked to comment on their ability to use specific areas and architectural elements, and to rate the priority of altering selected building elements. They concluded that providing at least one accessible entrance per building, and complying with ADAAG requirements for Braille, directional, and room signage are of the utmost importance. Recommendations were made regarding entrances, lecture halls, a library, interior accessible routes, doors, elevators, stairs, rest rooms, tables and seating, computer work stations, and signage. The methodology used in the participant study led to meaningful results and to the establishment of priorities for compliance with the ADA and Universal Design goals. However, additional research with a larger number of subjects is necessary in order to generalize the results to other universities and other building types.
This accepted article is published as Osterberg, A.E., David, A.M., Danielson, L.D., Universal Design: The Users’ Perspective. Housing and Society, 22(1-2), 1995; 92-113. https://doi.org/10.1080/08882746.1995.11430223. Posted with permission.