Lindale Village
111 Main Road North
Paraparaumu 5036

The Universality of Universal Design

I’m a big fan of Universal DesignLifemark, a commercial division of CCS Disability Action, is a well known advocate for universal design in NZ.

The Lifemark Design Standards focus on dwellings and are based on the following five key principles:

  1. Usable
  2. Adaptable
  3. Accessible
  4. Safe
  5. Lifetime value

The seven principles of universal design are much more far reaching however. They are:

  1. Equitable Use – The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. 
  2. Flexibility in Use – The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. 
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use – Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. 
  4. Perceptible Information – The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. 
  5. Tolerance for Error – The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. 
  6. Low Physical Effort – The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue. 
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use – Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility. 

With 1 in 4 Kiwis limited by an impairment, District Plans should be including reference to these universal design principles to enable social well-being. Developers should be making sure that their designers are aware of and put these principles into practice.

Disability is something that happens when people with impairments face barriers in society; it is society that disables us, not our impairments, this is the thing all disabled people have in common. It is something that happens when the world we live in has been designed by people who assume that everyone is the same. That is why a non-disabling society is core to the vision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy. Office for Disability Issues (MSD), 2017

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