Major changes in design requirements, both market-driven and legally mandated, are created a new dilemma for designers. Changing demographics, statues, and attitudes are fueling the demand for more sophisticated products, housing, and business environments, that are accessible for people of all ages, sizes, and abilities. These changes signal a wide array of opportunities for designers to apply their creative energies to the solution of practical, social and psychological problems. They may also hurl design practitioners into a chasm of uncharted territory without the benefit of appropriate training or technical assistance.
Universal design means simply designing all products, buildings and exterior spaces to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible. It is advanced here as a sensible and economical way to reconcile the artistic integrity of a design with human needs in the environment. Solutions which result in no additional cost and no noticeable change in appearance can come about from knowledge about people, simple planning and careful selection of conventional products.
As comfort, safety, and flexibility become more important key words in advertising, emerging technologies will continue to respond to the needs of people of all ages, abilities and sizes. Designers will be faced with a choice: reluctant compliance with minimum accessibility standards, or a positive, sensitive offering of universal design services.