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Design for All

What is Design-for-all?

Design-for-all is a European term that is closely related to universal design in emphasis and goal. Design-for-all refers to the approach taken when designing products, services and environments so that they are as usable as possible and can be used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability or situation. The idea is that a design-for-all approach should be taken from the beginning and conception of a product/service/environment and that thought should be focused on the user, taking into account the needs of different members of society and adopting a more inclusive approach. According to the ASK-IT glossary: "Design-for-all: to design products, services and systems that enable as many people as possible to use them".

Potential advantages for companies that adopt the design for all approach

  • Can enable a company to comply with national and international legislation, such as the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (USA).
  • Can not just trigger an increase in the number of potential customers, but can open up the market to a brand new, previously untargeted, consumer group (e.g. visually impaired users, hearing impaired users, elderly users, etc.);
  • Improves the satisfaction of users and consumers needs and thereby their loyalty to the company;
  • Improvement in the public image of the company.
A company that strives to be a trailblazer in this area can be highlighted and promoted by end user organisations. Innovative ideas can be used as an example of best practice, which other companies should aim to achieve.

Seven commandments from the Center for Universal design

Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to any group of users

Flexibility in use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities

Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.

Perceivable information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

Tolerance for error: The design minimises hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue

Size and space for approach and use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of the user's body size, posture or mobility.

Why design for all?

Society (including companies and governments) is increasingly seeing the necessity adopting a design for all approach for many reasons:

  • Life expectancy continues to increase across Europe and as the population gets older, there is an increasing number of people who have impairments but wish to live as independently as possible;
  • There is also a change in attitudes: Mobility impaired people are starting to expect the same opportunities as the general population;
  • There is a general change in society that a more inclusive approach should be taken which is reflected in the introduction of legislation.

Design-for-all in ASK-IT

The ASK-IT project is working with the design for all principal. ASK-IT aims to develop services for a broad range of people with impairments and has identified 10 User Groups:

1) Lower limb impairment
2) Wheelchair users
3) Upper limb impairment
4) Upper body impairment
5) Physiological impairment
6) Psychological impairment
7) Cognitive impairment
8) Vision impairment
9) Hearing impairment
10) Communication producing and receiving difficulties

As these user groups cover a wide variety of impairments they cover a large majority of the population and go beyond the most traditionally recognised mobility impairments. For example a person who has no problem using public transport in their own country of France, may have problems finding the right train when on holiday in Japan as they do not read or speak Japanese. In this situation they have an impairment. In this way, ASK-Alarm Button

Examples of best practice in design for all

To further clarify the design-for-all approach we have included a short description of a variety of products that have been created following the design-for-all approach. For more information, click on the examples below:

Design-for-all questionnaire

If you work for an organisation or company that produces or designs products/services/environments we would like to hear from you! We would like to hear about your company's attitude towards design-for-all. Please take a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire. Click here to download the questionnaire. Thanks for your time.

For further information on Design-for-All:


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