In the last nine months of my life, I have thought a lot about ableism. A year ago, when I whole-heartedly identified myself as “able-bodied,” I never even considered the nuanced meanings of “disabled” or “abled.” I assumed that, like the other “isms” I’ve learned about or experienced, the categories were cut and dry. You were either “able-bodied” or you were “disabled.” I never imagined I would one day live in the grey area.
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.