Universal Design Principles

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These principles are taken from The Principles of Universal Design (pdf) by the NC State University College of Design.

Principle 1: Equitable use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.


  • 1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical where possible; equivalent when not.
  • 1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
  • 1c. Make provisions for privacy, security, and safety equally available to all users.
  • 1d. Make the design appealing to all users.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.


  • 2a. Provide choice in methods of use.
  • 2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
  • 2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
  • 2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless fo the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.


  • 3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  • 3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
  • 3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
  • 3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.
  • 3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.


  • 4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
  • 4b. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
  • 4c. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e. make it easy to give instructions or directions).
  • 4d. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.


  • 5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
  • 5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
  • 5c. Provide fail-safe features.
  • 5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.

Principle 6: Low physical effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue.


  • 6a. Allow users to maintain a neutral body position.
  • 6b. Use reasonable operating forces.
  • 6c. Minimize repetitive actions.
  • 6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

  • 7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
  • 7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
  • 7c. Accomodate variations in hand and grip size.
  • 7d. Provide adequate space for use of assistive devices or personal assistance.