We want to help make communities more welcoming to people affected by disability through the use of universal design, but we believe that social change won’t occur without the following:
The universal design “label” is given to a lot of things (especially homes) that aren’t truly usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible. We believe that the solution to this problem is to focus on a process that is collaborative between design professionals, health professionals, and people who have life experience with disability. Design outcomes need to be inclusive to people affected by disability, and the best way to ensure that is to involve people who really “get it.”
What we design:
We only design things that can be replicated at scale (i.e., in many communities). Right now this includes homes and community activities/events. Both are important for one’s health and well-being because living independently at home is isolating without opportunities for social participation.
Easy Access to Design Plans
Universal design is typically perceived as something “special” or “custom,” and consequently is often financially inaccessible for the people who need it most. If we minimize barriers to accessing design plans for homes and activities/events, we believe more people will use them, which will create greater impact throughout our communities.
The functional diversity of the disability community can be difficult for service providers to accommodate, even with access to detailed design plans. We believe that successful implementation of universal design will often require support from professionals who understand the variety of ways people may use and interact with a design. We posit that support will also help instill confidence in potential users and participants because their needs are understood.
The hard reality is that a lot of people don’t care about universal design because they don’t perceive it as something that solves a problem they have. While universal design does benefit everyone, we believe that people need to experience universal design before they fully understand it, which is important before people will want universal design and the change it can bring to their community.