Reflecting on Universal Design

I enjoyed the chapter “Universal Design” especially how the actor linked design of buildings to the design of classrooms/teaching. To quote the article “Universal Design is not about buildings, it is about building – building community, building better pedagogy, building opportunities for agency. ” It is not like one size fits all. The goal of designing buildings shouldn’t be to accommodate for “normal” people just as time in the classroom shouldn’t focus solely on the “normal” students forgetting that there is a wide range of learning styles in the classroom. One example the author gave from her classroom was how she accommodated her teaching style to all types of students. She realized that not every student can just automatically answer a question asked in class, rather, some students need the entire class period to come up with a response, while others benefit more from a couple of days reflection. When given more time, she said  students can do more and better thinking. This idea says that the design of a lesson shouldn’t be geared to one type of student and that all students, no matter how they learn, should be considered.

This goes into Universal Design of buildings. Something the article pointed out that I never really thought about was the idea of a “design bias.” Universal Design is not just about temporarily accommodating individuals with disabilities, rather, it is about designing for a wide range of people in mind. It is about planning for the active involvement for all just like what I mentioned above when it comes to teaching. When designing a building, the idea of accessibility for people with disabilities shouldn’t be an after thought. Additional parts shouldn’t be added on later. Instead, Universal Design is a push toward seeing space as a open to multiple possibilities. Space should not be decided for one group of people, rather, all users need to shape the space.

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