It’s bright, quiet, and 72 degrees. And it makes every student feel valued. My public high school didn’t have air conditioning. Come June, when temperatures in New York soared past 90 degrees, it was a chore to pay attention in calculus. Who could focus on integrals when sweat was dripping down my back? So many kids started taking refuge in the cool guidance counselor’s office that, on some hot days, she refused to see students altogether.
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.