Cultivating a Universal Design Mindset in Young Students


Publication date



The Design Society

Document type


Universal Design (UD) is an approach to promoting an inclusive society with equity as a central focus. With trends in globalization and population aging , it is critical to cultivate a UD-oriented mindset among younger people who will be responsible for promoting a more democratic and sustainable society. However, the challenge remains to convince students in higher education of the importance of UD . One potential reason is the common misunderstanding that UD is only dedicated to persons with disabilities, and thus, possibly due to the social stigma associated with disability, students deem UD irrelevant in many cases. Another potential reason is an unfamiliarity with the principles associated with UD as well as situations where they experience any inability or discomfort using a non-universally designed product, service or environment. On the other hand, human/user-centered design (UCD) is supported by the ISO standard 9241-210:2010 and has been more widely recognized as a fundamental approach to successful design and development of a product, especially in the field of human-computer interaction. The lack of a UD-oriented mindset may unconsciously limit the image of “users” within their knowledge, and hence the potential diversity in user traits or use situations could be neglected. In other words, if the students experience UD as beneficial for themselves, it could provide a useful basis for recognizing the importance and impact of UD. By taking two international student projects as cases, this study retrospectively discusses how such tactics may effectively cultivate a UD mindset among graduate-level students.




Permanent URL (for citation purposes)