Thursday, October 7, 2010

Design for All

If I were ever to build a new home (which I have to admit isn’t likely), I’d want Patrick Manley to design it. He speaks clearly and eloquently about the importance of listening to clients, and his work with universal and sustainable design gives him a perspective that is at once practical and idealistic.  You can hear all of that as he talks about a demonstration home he designed in Columbus. 

Universal design aims to create structures, tools, and processes that can be used easily by anyone, regardless of their age, physical abilities, or size.  Its core principles focus not only on accessibility but also on ease of use and flexibility – qualities that appeal to any user.  For example, one of the principles is “simple and intuitive use,” and a handout prepared for Manley’s presentation for the Youngstown Foundation last month cited the iPhone as an example – not exactly something widely seen as created for “special needs.”  And that’s exactly the point: recognizing that the design qualities that make spaces and objects accessible often make them work well for everyone, and that in turn destigmatizes difference.  When we think about it that way, universal design is not just good physical design. It’s also good social design.

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