Designing technology for disabilities

Universal Design (UD) is the design and composition of an environment that is barrier-free and it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building structure, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish and need to use it. The built environment (indoors and outdoors) refers to structures around us, such as buildings and anything in them, including the technology environment that has been developed to be used by participants of that environment. These are not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. UD is a fundamental condition of good design in resent and future times. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient, and a pleasure to use, everyone can benefit. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of everyone throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services; and environments that meet peoples’ needs and enhances their abilities. Simply put, universal design is a good design for everyone.

We know that there are laws and policies that if implemented according to the law, as written, can make it possible to have a more inclusive society. This can benefit all people regardless of what type of ability or disability the person may have.

The Learning Resources for this week provide you with links to information related to this topic, and you also have other articles based on different perspectives of UD to read that will inform you with a more comprehensive understanding of UD. You will also use these articles for your discussions.

1. Prepare for this week’s discussion by reviewing the Learning Resources links and additional resource documents posted in the resource area.

Part 1. Please respond to the following questions:

a) What are the seven principles of universal design? Provide 2 examples of how and where they should be applied.

b) Survey your own environment, indoors and outdoors, where you perform your daily activities (home, school, work, and recreational). Do you see the application of universal design related to environmental, physical structures and technology? Please explain and provide 2 examples.

c) What is the relationship between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Universal Design (UD)? Are there any similarities or differences?

Part 2. Besides the architectural aspects of the built environment and technological devices that we use every day, we also have the component of outdoors activities where designing for disability and universal design can be applied.

a) What could be one area of outdoors activities (sports or recreational, etc.) that can be enhanced by the application of universal design and/or designing for disability? Please, describe briefly and provide 2 examples.

b) In answering the above question, did you keep in mind any particular disability(s)? If so, which type(s)?

c) Is your idea of outdoor activities inclusive to people with-or-without disability and regardless of age? How can everyone benefit? Please explain.

****Questions/statements must be identified with their respective numbers Ex: 1. 2, 3, etc. 2. a, b, c, etc. If there is more than one Part to the discussion activity each Part I, Part II, etc. must be identified as well.

All questions/statements must be answered directly.****


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