Design for One is Design for All

The Past, Present, and Future of Universal Design as a Strategy for Ageing-in-Place with Disability

Authored by: Jon A. Sanford , Elena T. Remillard

Handbook on Ageing with Disability

Print publication date:  March  2021
Online publication date:  March  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138611498
eBook ISBN: 9780429465352
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides a brief historical overview of Universal Design (UD) and evaluates its usefulness as a strategy to assist people ageing with disability. UD is a strategy that focuses on design for all, rather than specialist designs which cater for older adults or for individuals who have a disability. Yet UD has often been criticised or dismissed as an unrealistic or utopian ideal. This chapter argues that neither universal nor specialised design has facilitated adoption of accessible design approached and proposed Ability-Based Design (ABD) as a promising way forward. ABD is an inclusive approach that addresses the variety of activity limitations and participation restrictions experienced by people ageing with disability and could be used to promote ageing-in-place with disability. More specifically, the chapter suggests that ABD is the future of digital technologies that support persons ageing with disability and creates a framework for technologies in the physical world as well.

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