Hi! We’re Scott & Sarah Pruett, founders of The Universal Design Project. We started this organization because we see a huge need for collaboration between designers and people who really understand disability.
We understand firsthand how universal design can improve people’s involvement in their communities. Starting with the obvious, Scott uses a wheelchair. He broke his neck in a downhill skiing accident nearly 20 years ago, which caused irreversible damage to his spinal cord at the C6 level, resulting in partial paralysis.
Sarah is a registered & licensed occupational therapist with experience in physical rehabilitation. Scott has a masters in parks and recreation management and specializes in adaptive outdoor recreation. We started a universal design consulting business in 2012; Sarah focused on home design and modification while Scott focused on inclusive community recreation. Our experiences and friendships within the disability community made the need for universal design impossible to ignore. This also made us question why there’s so little of it.
We dissolved the consulting business after four years and restructured as a nonprofit organization. The Universal Design Project was born. We’re currently working to show what can be done when designers and people who understand disability work together.
The Universal Design Project is currently just the two of us + roughly 50 volunteers. If we can raise funding to build our team, we’ll have 12 other positions to fill. Please keep in touch if you’re interested in what we’re doing.
No tiptoeing around disability.
Universal design is a difficult sell for people who don’t identify with having a disability, but UD wouldn’t exist if disability didn’t exist.
The words we use matter.
Universal design isn’t the same thing as ADA compliance or accessibility modifications. “Universal design” must truly be for “all people.”
Better to design new than to redesign.
Universal design is a process of designing without barriers. It’s not a fix-it activity. Compromises are often made when redesigning. Start fresh.
Minimize bias, minimize exclusion.
We see the world through our eyes, not someone else’s. Universal design necessitates working with people who see things differently.
Listening leads to understanding.
Universal design isn’t one-size-fits all. It’s about accommodating a range of ways people do things. Listen to people. Don’t depend on personas.
Doing universal design well is costly.
Universal design needs to be a collaborative process. It takes a lot more effort than design done by a single individual. This costs time and money.