Universal Design

Universal Design refers to efforts to design texts, products, environments for everyone. Universal design is grounded in rhetorical analysis and rhetorical reasoning. Photo by Pat Loika, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Universal Design is

  • the act of designing environments, products, and communications with the needs, abilities, and limitations of users in mind, especially users who may need special accommodations due to disabilities
  • a method for developing apps, products, and services that benefit all users.

Related Concepts: Design Thinking; Rhetorical Analysis; Rhetorical Reasoning

At first glance, Universal Design may seem equivalent to Venture Design and Design Thinking. Like these concepts, Universal Design is concerned with creating an accessible environment and producing products and services that people want, understand, and can use.

Universal Design, like Venture Design and Design Thinking, involves Rhetorical Analysis and Rhetorical Reasoning. All of these methods share a reliance on Customer Discovery, Usability Research, and other human-centric approaches.

What distinguishes Universal Design from other design approaches is its laser-like focus on all potential users’ needs, abilities, and limitations. Rather than target a narrow user/customer segment, Universal Design values inclusivity: developers/designers/knowledge workers who practice Universal Design aim to make their works accessible, intuitive, and safe for the widest possible diversity of users. to a range of user/customer segments, including users of a. variety of ages, disabilities, technical expertise, and so on.

Adopting the principles of Universal Design as a rhetorical lens early during composing and product development has multiple benefits.