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Universal Design Identity Program

Image of the Universal Design LogoThe Universal Design Identity Program (UD-id) project is a Universal Design Leadership Initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).This project was initiated to promote increased understanding, acceptance, anduse of universal design by a broader audience of consumers, designprofessionals, industry and government leaders, and academics.

The Universal Design Identity Program originated as a result of the National Endowment for the Arts’ October 2003 meeting entitled Envisioning Universal Design: Creating an Inclusive Society. Findings from this meeting substantiatedthe critical need for a clearer understanding of the universal design concept, andstressed the importance of supporting projects that work to overcome commonmisperceptions associated with universal design. The 2003 meeting reportidentified these misperceptions as the top challenge of public acceptance ofuniversal design. The Universal Design Identity Project was funded to begin theprocess of developing a UD identity that will clarify the concept, increaseawareness, and educate the public about the advantages of a universallydesigned world.

Co-investigators Beth Tauke and Alex Bitterman explored public perceptions andattitudes towards universal design, and used this information to develop aninclusive process for multi-sensory communication design. With the assistance and feedback of various stakeholders and user groups, they developed an identity program proposal for universal design.

Five major tasks were established for the project. First, through literature reviews, international online surveys, and interviews, Tauke and Bitterman investigated a) public awareness and opinions about universal design and b) sensory preferences (shape, color, form, and sound) and the cultural connotations associated with these preferences. Second, they used the results of their findings coupled with the Seven Principles of Universal Design to generate a set of guidelines for the development and analysis of universally designed symbols. Third, they employed these guidelines to create an identity program, and produced options for an international multi-sensory symbol to identify UD products and systems. Fourth, surveys were completed to gain feedback from consumers and experts on whether the symbols conveyed the idea of universal design. Fifth, promotional prototypes were developed to demonstrate possibilities for the dissemination of the identity program.

The program lead to the development of the Universal Design Symbol (pictured above) to identify products, places, objects, systems, methods, or ideas that are universally designed.

Download the Final Report

universal design identity project final report

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