OHAC uses cookies to give you the best experience on our websites. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies as described in this Privacy Policy. Click here to remove this message.

Architects and designers - How are you considering Universal Design?

In a recent article we highlighted the importance of thinking beyond disability access when designing buildings. Examples included the provision of parking for parents with small children; Baby changing facilities; mixed seating; changing places; signage and wayfinding and the design of facilities for people of different religious beliefs/culture.

However it still seems that many architects and designers are designing buildings with only disability access in mind. It is important to note that there has been a shift away from disability access design towards designing for all people regardless of age, size or disability. One of the key drivers in this shift is the principle of Universal Design.

Universal Design “is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability” and is referenced in international conventions and Irish legislation (e.g. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and The Irish Disability Act 2005). Universal Design is also referenced in Technical Guidance Document (TGD) M 2010. 

Section 0.1 of the TGD states “Part M aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment”.  It continues to state that “In doing so, the requirements, underpin the principle of Universal Design. Universal Design is defined in the Disability Act 2005 as “the design and composition of an environment so that it may be accessed, understood and used to the greatest practicable extent, in the most independent and natural manner possible, in the widest possible range of situations and without the need for adaptation, modification, assistive devices or specialised solutions, by persons of any age or size or having any particular physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual ability or disability.”

Examples of good Universal Design relating to the built environment include:

If you would like further information or assistance in relation to Universal Design or accessibility, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01-4151285 or [email protected].