The developing definition of universal design


  • Eric Dolph SUNY Buffalo State



A review of scholarly work indicates a shift in the definition of universal design.  Originally, the focus was placed on physical access to the built environment through design innovations that, while small in scale, resulted in significantly improved outcomes.  This has developed to a more contemporary vision that addresses issues of social justice across multiple strata.  This development is an indicator of the evolution of the field and has significant implications for those teaching universal design. In 2018, educators teaching in interior design programs accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) in the United States were surveyed about the infusion of universal design content within their curricula.  As part of the survey, participants were presented with four definitions and asked to assess their appropriateness in defining the term universal design.  Responses revealed a generally high level of understanding regarding the definition of universal design.  This article investigates the evolution of the definition of universal design, presenting each of the definitions in their historical context, presents the survey results of interior design educators’ perceptions of these definitions, and concludes with implications for universal design, particularly in the interior design discipline.


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How to Cite

Dolph, E. (2021). The developing definition of universal design. Journal of Accessibility and Design for All, 11(2), 178–194.