Usable workspaces without the need for accommodations
Universal design (UD) ensures that products and buildings can be used by virtually everyone, whether they are currently disabled or not. It means designing all products, buildings, and exterior spaces to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for accommodations.
Universal design is flexible, innovative, intuitive, and inclusive. UD aims to improve human performance, health, wellness, and social participation for all people, regardless of age, disability, culture, gender, sexual identity, race, or any other factors.
Go Above & Beyond
Many companies are beginning to recognize the value of diverse and inclusive workforces. However, many companies are neglecting disability in their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Leaving disability out of these conversations neglects one of the largest minority groups in the country and one that intersects with all other dimensions of diversity.
Most companies continue to rely on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and meeting “minimum standards” for their physical spaces, which very often are not truly functional for anyone, especially employees with disabilities.
Optimize Your Workspaces
UD has its foundation in accessible design, but it goes far beyond that. UD is not about designing for disability. It is designing spaces and products that allow all people to function at their optimal level.
UD focuses on a variety of dimensions of diversity with the goal of promoting cultural appropriateness, understanding, wellness, and integration for all.
Having workspaces that are universally designed will ensure that your company is ready to welcome any and all individuals as equal and valued team members.
Create Functionality for All
Cultivate a sense of belonging by creating a space in which every employee can thrive.
Go above and beyond ADA requirements to have workspaces that are safe, comfortable, and usable for all employees and visitors.
Demonstrate a company commitment to diversity and inclusion through usable, well-designed spaces and experiences.
Set yourself apart as an employer that does not need to accommodate certain employees, but is built to support all employees.
Why UD Matters
"57% of people with physical disabilities who are currently unemployed believe they would be able to work if workplaces were made more accessible, and almost half (49%) of people with physical disabilities who are currently working believe they would be able to work additional hours in more accessible workplaces.”
Consider how much talent your company is missing out on by having poorly designed physical spaces. And this statistic only includes people with physical disabilities which represents one small segment of the disability population!
By choosing to implement UD, you have the opportunity to open your company up to a huge untapped talent pool while also committing to a culture of genuine inclusion and belonging for all employees.
Universal Design FAQs
How does does it work?
1. Universal Design Site Evaluation
Design documentation review
Virtual or on-site review
Interviews with stakeholders (users)
2. Identification of existing design supports and areas for improvement
3. Create company-specific recommendations for improved functionality and usability
Identify the top 3 opportunities for improvement
4. Delivery and presentation of personalized UD Best Practice Recommendations
5. Follow-up and review of implementation
Who will you be working with?
Dr. Rebecca Langbein is Disability Solutions’ Universal and Inclusive Design Subject Matter Expert. Rebecca has a passion for bringing the human perspective into design, which she discovered at Lehigh University while pursuing the school’s first ever integrated degree in Engineering, Psychology, and Ethics. After working as an assistive technology practitioner in a pediatric outpatient rehabilitation center, she went back to school and completed her doctorate in Occupational Therapy, in order to enhance her understanding of human performance, particularly as it relates to disability.
Dr. Langbein has consulted with architecture firms to explore “going beyond ADA requirements” in an effort to make spaces that truly function well for all and has also pursued certificates in UD from the University of Buffalo, the country’s leading university on the topic.
Rebecca is on the team at The Universal Design Project, a non-profit organization seeking to increase the number of financially and physically accessible homes in the US through collaborative design with architects, medical professions, and people with disabilities. She also has experience in universal product design, having partnered with the Adaptive Design Association in New York City to design and fabricate see-through face masks for use in schools for children who are D(d)eaf or hard of hearing at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through her work at Disability Solutions, Dr. Langbein partners with clients to assess their spaces for inclusivity and accessibility. She uses the findings from evaluations to create company-specific recommendations for improved access and functionality for all employees, with a particular focus on surpassing ADA requirements and designing spaces that promote inclusion and belonging for all people. Though her recommendations include specific considerations for people with disabilities in all major categories (cognitive, physical, mental health, and sensory), she predominantly relies on UD theory in her work, as it more comprehensively addresses all dimensions of diversity including disability status, race, gender, age, sexual, and cultural identity.
Rebecca is a TEDx speaker with 40K views of her talk in which she shared her passion for interdisciplinary and human-centered design. She is also the co-host of the Good Fit, Poor Fit podcast which explores the interaction between people, design, and activity. She is a keen observer of people and their environments, with both a scientific and medical lens. Dr. Langbein views her work as an inclusive designer as a constant challenge and opportunity to learn by partnering with diverse teams to create innovative solutions that allow all people to participate in the world around them. Her passion for this work is infectious and hopes to get the chance to pursue UD with you!