A brief post highlighting the differences between universal design, designing for usability and designing for accessibility. This article What is the difference between accessible, usable, and universal design? sums things up succinctly. In essence these are the differences:
- Accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. Accessibility sometimes refers to the characteristic that products, services, and facilities can be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities.
- Universal design is a broader concept that is defined by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” In the case of information technology, products that are universally designed are accessible to and usable by people with a wide variety of characteristics, including different types of disabilities. These products are often designed to eliminate or minimize the need for assistive technologies. At the same time, they are compatible with common assistive hardware and software devices.
- Usable design, like accessible and universal design, serves to create products that are easy and efficient to use. Usability has been defined by the International Organization for Standardization as the “effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which a specified set of users can achieve a specified set of tasks in a particular environment.” Usability engineers test the ease at which users can learn to operate a product and remember how to do so when they return to the product at a later time.