Fluorescent lights. A wall painted bright yellow. A smoke detector that keeps beeping through a meeting. These are things that you might encounter in an office or a classroom without much notice. But what if you saw those fluorescent lights flickering intensely and heard them emitting a painfully sharp buzz? Or if that yellow wall seemed to be vibrating, like a broken computer monitor? Or if the bleep of the alarm was the loudest sound you could hear?
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.