How design can make the world more accessible to everyone


From my office overlooking Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in the Carnegie Mansion in New York City, I can see the daily flow of visitors from all walks of life entering our historic garden—a rare gem of enclosed green space in the city.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.