Accessible Design versus Universal Design


Understanding the difference between accessible design and universal design

In today’s society, we see universal design in so much of our daily lives. It can be confusing to understand the difference between accessible design and universal design.

Here’s the definition of universal design - design that’s usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.  

It’s interesting because so many people disassociate from thinking anything “accessible” applies to them because of the misconception that it is only being used by people with disabilities.

When something is accessible to everyone, it becomes obvious that the immediate beneficiaries are people who are typically excluded.  Accessible design is really universal to all people.

Here’s a really interesting article by understanding the difference between the two.

What have your experiences been with finding products or services or digital environments that are accessible for your specific access needs? What about products or services that you feel are accessible for all people?

For example, Alexa was initially designed with accessibility in mind for people with disabilities in the sight loss community. However, most people now use Alexa for a variety of purposes, such as making grocery lists, playing music, setting alarms, etc.

Do you know of any other products or services that were initially created for people with disabilities but now have a broader use for all people?

Here’s a cool video created by Unsightly Opinions on YouTube discussing Accessibility VS Universal Design - How you can help!


  • Meryl Evans
    Meryl Evans Member (Full) Posts: 16

    Unfortunately, the video isn't properly captioned. It uses autocraptions. Universal design should be the goal as it includes accessibility, of course.

  • Ali Ingersoll

    Fantastic point in great catch. I actually sent a comment the person that made the video to see about this. When you are making a video, out of curiosity, what program do you use to caption properly?