1 Why all this noise? Universal design
The article describes the sources of universal design and its precursors. It analyses seven principles of universal design proposed at the North Carolina State University and indicates the examples of their application in architecture, industrial design, IT.
Universal design is compared to the science of ergonomics, consisting of research carried out for several decades in such disciplines as anthropometry, biology, psychology, sociology, culture and others. This comparison shows that universal design constitutes a continuation of the existing solutions and utilizes the longstanding principles of design. The author demonstrates a significant advantage of universal design at driving attention to the necessity of extending the group of target users and the social costs of failing to account for every person in design thinking. The idea is popularized by introducing the principles of creating usable designs in seven simple and memorable points.
Further, the article subjects universal design, as a methodology utilizing scientific knowledge, to critical evaluation. It offers examples of other design methodologies, which lead to different results and indicates their strong and weak points. It also describes the sources, which suggest adding or supplementing the principles of universal design.
The analyses indicate that universal design utilizes existing principles and cannot be defined in isolation from ergonomic knowledge. It was also shown that it focusses mainly on physical parameters of the users while neglecting problems such as human comfort, impressions, social needs or cultural diversity. Therefore, it does not guarantee that the universally designed architecture, items or solutions will be readily used.
It is concluded that developing a good design usually requires simultaneous application of several methods, while their selection is not a guarantee of designer’s success.
Keywords: universal design, design for all, architecture, ergonomics