Universal design or inclusive design, also called design for all, can be briefly described as design of products and services that can be used by as many people as possible in a wide variety of usage situations. On this page you will find useful information about inclusive design and universal design, focusing on ICT-based products and solutions.
Universal design means working against good solutions with a broad, functional base while meeting requirements for security, sustainability, design, etc. The target group is people of different ages, sizes and different skills. Universal design content and thinking was first introduced on a broad basis by the introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States in 1990.
What is needed for an ICT solution to work inclusive?
In order to meet the requirements of universal design, ICT-based products or solutions (such as a webpage, electronic service, software product, etc.) must appear inclusive of users with different functionalities, so that most people can use the same product or solution without any complicated options or services. The test for this is that the solution meets the requirements of the most demanding users – those with the highest demands on functionality and ease of use. And there are people with disabilities who meet the highest standards.
There are several ways to go to develop solutions that cover the most demanding users’ needs and wishes. One can for example:
- increase user-friendliness (lower threshold) in the main solution offered to everyone,
- increase the flexibility and options of the main solution by offering more user interfaces and functionalities for information access and dialog (audio, image, text, etc.) as standard
- offer aids that play with the main solution, for example in the form of an add-on or device that enables people with severe disabilities to benefit from the main solution.