Organizations today face numerous challenges when planning for the diverse needs of users who utilize their campuses and spaces. Today’s dedication goes beyond the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) which mandated equal access for all. Today, we hold organizations at a higher standard and demand equality for all.
Universal Design is dedicated to designing spaces where everyone is given what they need to succeed. While grounded in ADA, it offers far more potential for inclusion. Universal Design dares us to look further than differences in physical and cognitive abilities or disabilities to create an environment that is designed with everyone in mind. In short, Universal Design has the potential to make daily and work-life healthier, more productive, and friendlier, and requires continuous improvement toward the ultimate goal of full inclusion. We see Universal Design as a process that enables and empowers a diverse population.
Organizations that are implementing Universal Design strategies on their campuses ultimately see it as a tangible benefit and a return on their investment. Leaders in public and private organizations recognize the importance of designing for diversity in creating inclusive workplaces. They realize that executing a skillfully designing environment allows individuals and teams to flourish by eliminating physical and social barriers. Finally, Universal Design improves safety measures by minimizing hazards that lead to accidents, lost productivity, and related expenses.
The 9 Step Process for Universal Design Certification
A step-by-step guide on how to become certified
- Beginning of Project: Bring Universal (UD) professional on-board to guide Owner through the process
- Access the Project: The UD professional will utilize the Universal Design checklist as the baseline document for identifying strategies.
- Establish Key Strategies: The Owner and UD professional will establish a list of recommended Universal Design strategies to implement into the design which align with the Owner’s goals. The documentation is forwarded to the Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC) for review, comment, and agreement.
- Develop Measure: The owner and UD professional will establish post-occupancy measure to be reviewed at post occupancy (3-month, 6-month), or 1-year as determined by the Owner and UD professional). These outcomes will be forwarded to the GUDC in furtherance of its Living Laboratory studies.
- Project Management: The UD professional monitors the process and communicates the Universal Design goals and detail to project stakeholders, including the Owner’s team, design professionals, construction team, vendors, and suppliers. The UD professional communicates the progress to the GUDC.
- Project Completion: Upon project completion and implementing the agreed upon Universal Design strategies, the UD professional will recommend certification at the appropriate level to the GUDC.
- Certification: The GUDC will conduct a final review of the recommendation and grant certification at the appropriate level and provide the owner with a plaque for display within the facility.
- Celebrate: Congratulations! Your project is now certified and represents a commitment to the best practices in accessibility.
- Post-Occupancy Review: The Owner and UD professional will conduct a 1-year post-occupancy review to evaluate how the building is performing against the established Universal Design measures. Changes and innovations will be identified to inform future projects and the GUDC’s Living Laboratory studies.