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Adaptive Environments 
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Polly Welch, editor 

Adaptive Environments 
Boston, MA 

MIG Communications 
Berkeley, CA 

© 1994 by Adaptive Environments Center. All rights reserved. 
Printed in the United States of America. 

No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or 
used in any form or by any means — graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including 
photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems — 
without written permission of the publisher. 

Strategies for Universal Design Education has been produced through the 
Universal Design Education Project, a program of Adaptive Environments 
developed in cooperation with the Center for Accessible Housing (Raleigh, NC): 

Elaine Ostroff, Executive Director 
Soni Gupta, Project Coordinator 

This book is also available in alternate formats: Braille, audiotape, large print, 
and diskette. For these formats, copies of this book, or additional information 
on the Universal Design Education Project, contact: 

Adaptive Environments Center 
374 Congress Street, Suite 301 
Boton, MA 02210 

This document has been designed and published by: 

MIG Communications 

1802 Fifth Street 

Berkeley, CA 94710-1915 

(800) 790-8444; fax (510) 845-8750 

David Driskell, Managing Editor 

Tony Pierce and Anne Endrusick, Cover and Page Design 

Renate Alexander, Production 

Stuart Easterling, Production Assistant 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94-073139 
ISBN 0-944661-23-8 

Table of Contents 

Foreword (work in progress) 
Preface (work in progress) 




Activity Matrix 


Part One 
Chapter 1 

Chapter 2 

Introduction (work in progress) 

Universal Design 

Evolution of the idea 
Distinct from accessibility 
Why the concept is needed 

History of the Movement to Design for All People 

Post-war climate 
Building codes 
Medical advances 
Civil rights 



Chapter 3 

Universal Design in Professional Education 

Gerontilogical Society of America 

Lifchez/Berkeley/Exxon project 





Chapter 4 

The Universal Design Education Project 




Future Direction 


Part Two Project Case Studies 

(contributing authors to be clarified and identified for each chapter) 

Chapter 5 

Chapter 6 

California Polytechnic State University — 
San Luis Obispo, CA 

College of Architecture and Environmental Design 

Iowa State University — Ames, IA 

Departments of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, 
An and Design 


Table of Contents continued 

Chapter 7 Kansas State University — Manhattan, KS 31 

College of Architecture and Design 

Chapter 8 Louisiana State University — Baton Rouge, LA 41 

Department of Interior Design 

Chapter 9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Cambridge, MA 45 

Department of Architecture 

Chapter 10 Miami University — Oxford, OH 53 

Interior Design Department 

Chapter 11 Michigan State University — East Lansing, MI 63 

Department of Human Environment and Design 

Chapter 12 North Dakota State University — Fargo, ND 77 

Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design 

Chapter 13 Norwich University — Norwich, VT 83 

Department of Architecture 

Chapter 14 Pratt Institute — New York, NY 89 

School of Architecture, Department of Interior Design, 
School of Art, Department of Communication 

Chapter 15 Purdue University — West Lafayette, IN 101 

Landscape Architecture Program 

Chapter 1 6 Ringling School of Art and Design — Sarasota, FL 111 

Department of Interior Design 

Chapter 17 State University of New York at Buffalo— Buffalo, NY 119 

Department of Architecture 

Chapter 18 Texas Tech University— Lubbock, TX 141 

Department of Landscape Architecture 

Chapter 19 University of Michigan — Ypsilanti, MI 147 

College of Architecture, College of Art 

-o v 

Chapter 20 University of Missouri — Columbia, MO 165 

Department of Environmental Design 

Chapter 21 University of South Florida — Tampa, FL 173 

Architecture Program 


Table of Contents continued 

Chapter 22 University of Southwestern Louisiana — Lafayette, LA 181 

Collaboration between Interior Design, Architecture, 
and Interior Design 

Chapter 23 University of Tennessee — Knoxville, TN 193 

Interior Design Program 

Chapter 24 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — 209 

Blacksburg, VA 

Interior Design Program 

Chapter 25 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — 217 

Blacksburg, VA 

Department of Landscape Architecture 

Part Three Reflections (work in progress) 

Chapter 26 Institutional Dimensions of Curricular Change na 

Levels of intervention 

Challenging values, introducing new values, and 

building on existing values 

Communication strategies 

Linking to professional practice 

Chapter 27 Critical Methodologies na 

Using consultants 

Empathic and experiential techniques 


Chapter 28 Next Steps na 

Appendix (work in progress) 

Bios of participants 

Bibliography of resources 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design was edited and produced under an ADA 
Voluntary Compliance grant from the Public Access Office of the U.S. Department of 

It was produced in close collaboration with the faculty from the participating 
schools in the 1993-94 Universal Design Education Project. The Universal Design 
Education Project is a program of Adaptive Environments, developed in cooperation 
with the Center for Accessible Housing. It was funded in part by the National 
Endowment for the Arts, NEC Foundation of America, NYNEX Foundation, JM 
Foundation, and the Public Access Office of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Adaptive Environments staff who led and coordinated the project and production 
of this book were: 

• Elaine Ostroff, Project Director 

• Polly Welch, Editor 

• Soni Gupta, Project Coordinator 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design has been published by MIG 

• David Driskell, Managing Editor 

• Tony Pierce and Anne Endrusick, Cover and Page Design 

• Renate Alexander, Production 

• Stuart Easterling, Production Assistant 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 






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Part Two Project Case Studies 

The case studies on the following pages are presented here for review by participants in 
Adaptive Environment's "Designing the Future: Toward Universal Design " symposium 
on November 16 and 1 7 in Boston, MA, and others involved in the Universal Design 
Education Project. 

Production of the final document remains in progress, namely Parts One and Three. 
In some instances, production issues related to the Part Two case studies are not yet 
resolved and have been noted accordingly. 

California Polytechnic State University — San Luis Obispo, CA 

College of Architecture & Enwronmental Design 



Educating Others About Universal Design 


We proposed to build on the insights and materials from the course that Paul 
Wolff has taught over the last twelve years, "Towards a Barrier-Free Environment," to 
develop a new seminar on universal design. The purpose of the new seminar would 
be to give students an experiential introduction to the theoretical, social, psychologi- 
cal, cultural, legal, and ergonomic issues related to designing for diverse users. 

Team members: 

Brad C. Grant 

Associate Professor 
Paul M. Wolff 

Professor Emeritus 
Michael Shannon 

Teaching Assistant 

A critical component of our seminar was to use participatory and collaborative 
methods, an approach we reinforced by forming a collaborative teaching team with 
diversity of age, race, and ability. If universal design is responsible design for all peo- 
ple, then the current concept should be expanded to include cultural and gender 
issues. The seminar would include the active participation of a diverse client and user 
population, including persons with various disabilities, people across the age span, 
and people of ethnic and cultural minorities. 

We planned the seminar to promote the understanding and application of univer- 
sal design as an integral issue within the context of the typical design studio at all lev- 
els of the curriculum. There would be no special project for this class; the holistic 
principles of universal design would have to be applied to whatever project was chal- 
lenging the student in his or her current design studio. The class would be directed at 
architecture and landscape architecture students in their second through fifth years. 

A second part to our proposal addressed the need to reach beyond the seminar to 
expose the issues and principles of universal design to the widest possible multi-disci- 
plinary audience of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, including 
students, faculty, and practitioners. We proposed a Universal Design Awards Program 
as an opportunity for students across the school to participate in the UDEP. The 
awards program was intended to promote and reward design excellence in the appli- 
cation of universal design principles. 


We predicated the course on the notion that students would learn the most about 
universal design if they had to educate others about the subject. The first third of the 
term gave the class an introduction to universal design — its philosophy, its implica- 
tions, and specific information regarding people with differing abilities. We developed 
assignments that would encourage students to explore the ramifications of diversity: 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 

Chapter 5: California Polytechnic State University 

• Interviewing children, seniors, underrepresented community members, or per- 
sons with disabilities to reveal their views of the community environment. 

• Collecting "print ads" of "people who are different" as the basis for discussion 
of advertising stereotypes of age, gender, cultural background, and disability. 

• Simulating mobility and sight impairments with wheelchairs and blindfolds. 

• Participating in a Department of Architecture event — a diversity panel compris- 
ing people with disabilities and people of African American background. 

• Wearing colored dots on their foreheads and organizing themselves into simi- 
lar color groups to discuss issues of difference. 

• Taking class field trips to recently constructed buildings around campus to 
assess the extent to which they were universally designed. 

During the remainder of the term students selected audiences with whom to share 
their new-found knowledge and awareness and developed suitable activities and pro- 
jects. The necessary research and preparation for this was, in itself, a valuable learn- 
ing experience for the students. The projects included: 

• "Human performance sculptures" that posed in public spaces to promote 
awareness of discrimination and bring attention to universal design issues. 

• Visits to several elementary schools to lead third and fourth graders through a 
series of exercises illustrating the concept of universal design 

• A slide presentation on universal design to be used in other classes in the col- 
lege of Architecture and Environmental Studies. 


A survey of College of Architecture and Environmental Studies faculty to deter- 
mine their knowledge of and attitudes towards universal design. 

Scripting and production of an educational video on universal design. 

Video documentation of the course, including student projects and evaluations. 

'Educating Others About Universal Design" 

We also organized a school-wide design competition open to individuals or teams 
of students in all five departments. There was no special project or program. 
Students could submit their studio projects, showing how they had applied the princi- 
ples of universal design. Faculty in all departments were asked to encourage their 
students to submit their final design projects. UDEP grant money made possible cash 
awards to the top entries. The competition announcement was a very detailed book- 
let giving an overview of universal design, how its integration into design projects 
would be judged, and the availability of students in the seminar to give assistance. 

"Just because some- 
thing looks like it's to 
code, doesn 't mean it 
actually works..." 


The course was oversubscribed at forty-two students and drew students from 
three disciplines — Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Interior Design. 
Originally, the video project had been the only planned product of the class. The 
larger class prompted the instructors to develop a greater array of hands-on projects. 
One student in the class was a wheelchair user and a number of others had less obvi- 
ous disabilities. Sixty three percent of the students had some personal experience 
with people with disabilities and thirty-one percent had experienced personal limita- 
tions in the built environment. Forty' percent claimed to be familiar with univer- 
sal design but only half of those students could describe universal design. 
Sixty-four percent of the students claimed to be familiar with the American 
with Disabilities Act, while only six percent could actually describe it. 

Interviewing People with Different Perspectives. This exercise was 
designed as a catalyst for class discussions. Students were expected to make 
informed contributions to class discussions from their notes. The students where 
assigned to meet with and interview someone very different from themselves. 
They explored questions about perceptions of the environment and attitudes 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 

Chapter 5: California Polytechnic State University 

towards people who are "different." This was an attempt to have students gain an 
understanding of environmental design issues from perspectives outside of their nor- 
mal experience. We wanted students to envision the environment from the perspec- 
tive of children, ethnic minorities, seniors, or persons with varying abilities. 

Analyzing Advertisements. We asked students to analyze current advertise- 
ments and report to the class how "people who are different" are depicted. This 
exercise was assigned to get students to explore how our society views or, in most 
cases, hides people with disabilities, children, seniors, and ethnic minorities. Each stu- 
dent came to class with a print ad or an excerpt from a TV commercial with a brief 

written and graphic analysis. This worked well for class discussions and for 

several students it was an "eye opener." 

Color Dot Exercise, With all students' eyes closed, the instructors 
placed a small colored dot on the forehead of each individual. The students 
were then instructed to open their eyes and without verbal communication 
arrange themselves in groups by dot color. Each student had to rely on oth- 
ers to identify his or her color and to locate the right group. This exercise 
proved to be a powerful stimulus for a discussion on belonging, identity, 
and difference. 

©*£*.. 55T 

Several activities had a public dimension and brought visibility to the 
class and its content: 

Human Performance 
Sculptures: Cal Poly 
students explore issues 
of age discrimination 
(top) and racial atti- 
tudes (bottom). 

Human Performance Sculptures. Students developed scenarios to 
represent the problems of being different that they had explored in class. 
The scenarios included an elderly person looking for a job, an interracial 
couple getting married, a person in a wheelchair trying to cross a curb, and 
an obese person trying to sit in a very small chair. In public places in San 
Luis Obispo, such as the Mall, the Mission plaza, and the student union 
plaza, they posed as the characters in these scenarios, similar to street mime. 
Leaflets were distributed to bystanders explaining how the human perfor- 
mance illustrates some of the issues of universal design. It emphasized that 
attitudinal barriers are the primary cause of physical barriers. The public's 
reaction ranged from being very interested and engaged to ignoring the stu- 
dents' performance. The local TV station featured the group in its nightly news spot. 

Elementary School Visit. This was the best learning method of the exercises. 
In order for the students to successfully teach ideas about universal design to young 
children, they had to understand the issues themselves. They developed several exer- 
cises appropriate to children such as a learning disability puzzle, a blindfolded walk, 
and class discussions. The grade school teachers and children as well as our students 
and teachers considered this exercise a hit. 

"Educating Others About Universal Design' 

Faculty Survey. A group of students developed and administered a 
survey to approximately one hundred faculty in the College of Architecture 
and Environmental Design. The survey was designed to reveal the degree of 
understanding of universal design. The survey results indicated that our 
faculty was not very familiar with universal design. There were problems 
with the survey instrument and method that, unfortunately, invalidated the 
whole survey. In the future students would consult with the statistics depart- 
ment to insure proper surveying methods for valid results. 

". . . to successfully teach 
ideas about universal 
design to young children, 
[the students] had to under- 
stand the issues themselves. " 

School-Wide Competition. Over thirty students submitted designs in 
all categories for the competition. This number was far fewer than the 
number of registration forms received and a disappointment considering 
the total number of students in the college eligible for the competition. 
This may be due in part to the fact that students in our department histori- 
cally have not entered a lot of competitions. 

A number of students incorporated universal design into projects they 
were already working on, including papers for other classes and thesis pro- 
jects. Others wrote up their critiques of buildings on campus. A majority 
of the entries demonstrated an understanding of the most obvious issues of 
universal design. Only the winners reflected the more complete under- 
standing of universal design outlined in the five criteria in the competition 
program. The interior design students seemed to have the most difficulties 
demonstrating their understanding of universal design. 

The jury consisted of the assistant coordinator of Disabled Student 
Services, a professor of architecture, and the three faculty for this course. 
After lengthy and careful analysis of all competition entries, the consensus 
of the jury was to award no first place, only second and third place, in 
both the fourth/fifth year architecture category and the interior design cate- 
gory. Third year architecture had two first places, a second place, a third 
place and an honorable mention. The students seemed to have difficulty 
documenting, representing, and demonstrating their understanding of uni- 
versal design in the traditional graphic manner of architecture. The written 
statements describing the entrants' intentions were essential to the jury 

We displayed the winning schemes in the College's main office, the usual display- 
area for student work, and in a display of student work for the Architecture 
Department's accreditation visit. The competition is worth repeating but needs greater 
faculty support to make it more successful. The faculty needs to be more knowledge- 
able about universal design and willing to encourage their students to participate. 

Elementary School Visit; 

Cal Poly students conduct 
a blindfolded walk (top) 
and discuss universal 
design in the classroom 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 

Chapter 5: California Polytechnic State University 


Following are some of the reflections made by the three course instructors. 

On the Value of Having Co-Instructors 

The presence of three instructors at each class meeting was an opportunity for 
interactive dynamics. The different life perspective of each instructor was key to con- 
veying the multifaceted concept of universal design. 

Although I had taught a related course, Towards a Barrier-free Environment, for 
the past thirteen years, I discovered invaluable benefits from teaching with my two 
creative partners, Brad Grant and Michael Shannon. In class we would frequently 
discuss, debate, disagree with, or reinforce each other. (Wolff) 

A student's critique of 
the new recreation 
building on campus 
observed that the 
fenced opening allows 
short people and people 
using wheelchairs to 
view the pool below. 

We discovered areas of universal design that we hadn't planned and were able to 
continue with the strong enthusiasm and energy with which we started. We would 
not have been able to attempt so many activities and course programs without the 
collaborative involvement of three distinct teachers. (Grant) 

On the Course Structure and Participatory Learning 

The initial one third of the term was devoted to instructing the class on the perspec- 
tive, philosophy, implications, and specifications of universal design. During 
the remaining class time, students were challenged to design projects for 
audiences of their own selection, with whom they could share their newfound 
knowledge and awareness. The necessary research and preparation for this, 
was in itself a valuable learning exercise for the students. (Wolff) 

Several all-class activities were very successful, especially field trips to build- 
ings which display varying degrees of universal design success, even though 
recently constructed. The ability to see expensive failures, often costing many 
thousands of dollars to correct, is a valuable tool for a new designer/architect. 
By far the best group project was the elementary school visits, which we docu- 
mented on video, and their grass roots, pure education, nature. I was per- 
sonally thrilled to further substantiate what most of us know, that the time to 
change discrimination is early in the lives of a new generation. As a person 
who uses a wheelchair knows, children have a natural curiosity and not a 
natural prejudice or avoidance — that is left to their parents. (Shannon) 


'Educating Others About Universal Design' 

The emphasis on participatory learning produced some fine projects, which can be 
used in future classes. Primarily, however, it served to maintain a high level of 
interest and involvement while encouraging students to design with greater empa- 
thy and understanding for the rich variety of human behaviors. (Wolff) 

On Universal Design Education 

In many ways the concepts and ideas involved in universal design are debatable 
and can be questioned. It was often difficult to have the class argue both sides of 
the controversial issues as it can be with other new social/environmental issues. I 
want, in the future, to create a universal design class that will debate all the issues 
of universal design. (Grant) 

As a person who came back to college after a serious automobile accident in 1987, 
and has spent five years totally involved in promoting accessibility on many fronts, 
each class section was also an opportunity to further erase the "line" that separates 
persons with disabilities from the non-disabled remainder of the ivorld. In a very 
short time, my wheelchair, braces, crutches or hearing aids were not really thought 
of as other than the assistive devices they are. In this particular situation, they were 
some of my strengths and perhaps tended to add a dash of validity to some of the 
dialogue that became extremely important as the class progressed. It was natural 
dialogue and curiosity which replaced pity and avoidance, both negative reactions. 


Students were asked to complete questionnaires after the class as an informal 
measure of change to help the faculty determine whether the course had increased 
the students' understanding of universal design and the American with Disabilities Act. 
In response to a question on the impact of the course, students' comments included: 
"New appreciation for other's perspectives;" "Understanding that universal design has 
no limits;" "Universal design can be beautiful;" "Better understanding of what to con- 
sider to ensure better design decisions;" and "Broader understanding of design for dif- 
ferent people and cultures." 

Students identified the field trips and the video production as the most effective 
resources used during the class. They also gave strong positive feedback on the sim- 
ulation exercises, use of consultants, and games. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 

Chapter 5: California Polytechnic State University 

First place urinner in 
the universal design 

It is important to emphasize that this course mill continue to be offered — although 
probably without making the video. It will continue because an understanding of 
universal design is an essential component in helping to eliminate discrimination 
in our architecture and because it can contribute to the creation of a more 
humane environment for the twenty-first century. Universal design means that we 
will become a less separate, more integrated society; we will be empowered to be 
competent in dealing with the physical world; we will be enabled toward greater 
interaction in the workplace, as well as, social, professional, commercial and recre- 
ational settings. This dynamic experiment has shown that just as attitudes influ- 
ence design, design can also influence attitudes. (Wolff) 


"Educating Others About Universal Design' 

The foreword to a 
Through this course, paper written by a 

I came to realize that the only way that I can ever hope to make a change student in the class. 

is to hove an idea of what a person 
who must deal with physical barriers 
encounters on a daily basts, 
t had a taste of that reality and 
I found it to be an eye opening experience. 

I do not know how it feels to be stared at, 

to have to spend most of my physical energy to just go from one class to another. 

To have both physical and attitud'tnal barriers placed on me every minute of my life. 

To be told that I can only enter a restaurant through the kitchen. 

To be excluded from experiences as simple as playing in a park, 

To not be given the opportunity to Bve freely, 

to be limited, 

to be segregated. 

Sure we can retrofit, 

we can apply standards, 

We might even be able to create aesthetically pleasing designs. 

But, we can not forget the users, 

because we are aB users. 

We will age, we might even lose our sight or hearing. 

Some of us might use a cane, perhaps a wheelchair. 

so, we as designers and planners 

must stop taking the ideal 30 year old abled body man as a prototype. 

We must stop assuming that building a barrier-free environment stifles 

the imagination and creativity 

and take it as a challenge. 

Perhaps through courses such as this 

minds wiB be opened, 

attitudes swayed and ideas generated 

It might create new thoughts, 

perhaps it wiB make people think a Bale harder and a little deeper. 

It might help to bring about unity into our society 

But, most ofaH, 

it will enBghten and increase our sensitivity for all the individuals 

who might not get around on two legs, 

or who use their hands to see, read and speak. 

It might just be as simple as respecting all people. 

I came to the reaBzation that 

sometimes the higher our eye level the lower our outlook 

and that at times it is possible to see more clearly when staring into darkness. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I I 

Iowa State University — Ames, Iowa 

College of Design 

NOTE- Unfortunately, this case study, representing an extraordinary level of effort, 
was received after the deadline to send materials to the publisher. Therefore, ive were 
unable to edit and format it prior to the conference. We will do so for the final copy. 


The purpose was to strike indelible impressions through the use of mutually rein- 
forcing awareness modules that increase in intensity over time. The goal was to make 
universal design thinking an automatic part of the design process. The procedures 
would be documented on video tape as reference materials for improving instruction 
and to perpetuate the activity throughout the inevitable change of instructors. The 
videotapes would be shared with other institutions to enhance their efforts. The pro- 
gression of the modules from lesser to greater intensity essentially parallels the experi- 
ences of persons with disabilities as they leam to adapt to the designed environment. 
The modules are to be infused in courses in three departments over the fall and 
spring semesters. 

The products would include project statements, sample design results, critic com- 
mentary and video taped highlights of the process. 

The Accountability and Integration modules will actively involve people represent- 
ing a range of individuals across the life span. The Coordinator of Students with 
Disabilities at Iowa State University is a woman with quadriplegia who uses a motor- 
ized wheelchair. A practicing landscape architect in Ames, Iowa, has restricted mobili- 
ty requiring the use of crutches. Alben Rutledge, a professor of landscape architecture 
at ISU, has recently undergone surgery for the replacement of both hips. 

These first-time participants will also help identify others with disabilities who 
might become involved in future projects. Thus the human resource pool should 
grow and recharge itself continuously throughout the long term. 

Team members: 

Mark Chidister 

Associate Professor and 

Interim Chair, Department 

of Landscape Architecture 
Albert Rutledge 

Professor of Landscape 

Arvid Osterberg 

Associate Professor of 

Robert Harvey 

Professor of Landscape 

Fred Malven 

Associate Professor of 

Interior Design 
Harlen Groe 

Graduate Assistant 

Activities and Reflections 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 3 

Fall 1993 

Landscape Architecture 284, Introduction to Landscape Architecture 

Professor Mark Chidister 

The focus of this course with respect to the UDEP project has been to increase students 
consciousness of people with disabilities and the need for designers to be knowledgeable of 
and sensitive to a wide range of populations. Consciousness was one of four levels of the 
Awareness Modules developed by the Iowa State team. The specific goal of the course 
was to increase awareness of the widespread presence of people of differing abilities, what 
it means to be a person with a disability, what language to use when referring to a person 
with a disability, introduce the concept of Universal Design, and introduce students to the 
Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It was hoped that the result of the videos shown, lectures given, and discussion would be 
an awareness of the need to design for disabilities, inoffensive language, and an 
understanding of Universal Design and the Americans with Disabilities Act 

At the outset of the semester I distributed a Personal Profile for students to fill out (a copy 
of the profile was included in the first report). The stated intent was to help me get to know 
the students better and to get a sense for how much they knew about the topics we would 
cover during the semester. Embedded in the profile were several questions relating to ADA 
and Universal Design. Sixty students filled out the profile which served as a kind of pre- 
test. I found that half of the students had prior, first-hand contact with people with 
disabilities. Almost three-quarters of the students had prior, first-hand contact with the 
elderly. Very few were familiar with the term Universal Design (17%). However, when 
asked to describe what the term meant, none of the students were able to articulate a 
definition that was even close. Quite a few more of the students had heard of the 


Americans with Disabilities Act (33%), although, still less that half. When asked to 
describe ADA, most of those who stated familiarity with ADA were able to convey some 
sense of understanding the term. A full print out of responses to the pertinent questions 
follows in the second part of this section. 

The post-test was the exam on this portion of the course which followed the presentation of 
material by two-and-a half weeks. A review session for the exam was held a few days 
prior to the exam where much of the material was reiterated. Fifty-eight students took the 
exam. A full copy of the exam follows in the second part of this section. 

The exam indicated a fairly good ability to recognize definitions of Universal Design and 
the Americans with Disabilities Act. For both concepts, a full defmition was printed on the 
examination (questions 21 and 24) and students were asked to fill in the concept which the 
defmition described. Almost ninety percent were able to accurately identify the definition of 
Universal Design (88%). The same percentage were able to pretty closely identify the 
definition of Americans with Disabilities Act, although only 19% use the full, correct title 
for the act. 

The question that was most revealing and satisfying for me (question 26) was one in which 
students were asked to assume that they were the project designer on a multi-family 
housing development and recreation area that was designed in the true spirit of Universal 
Design. They were then asked to state how they would refer to people who cannot walk, 
see, hear, etc. in their verbal presentation of the project to a client group. The responses, 
with a few exceptions, were consistent with the guidelines set out by Paul Longmore in his 
short paper titled Unhandicapping Our Language Longmore's paper was part of the 
material provided by the Center for Adaptive Environments at the onset of this project. I 
was pleased that students were beginning to use language in a manner that was sensitive to 
the people involved and that many were sensitive to design issues related to people with 
disabilities, i.e., not singling them out in homogenous disability groups or assuming that 
people with similar disabilities necessarily want to live together. 

The broader attempt I made was to not isolate ADA or Universal Design as a stand alone 
topic but to integrate it into the larger discussion of designing for people who are different 
than the designer. This includes differences of ability, race, and social, economic, and 
geographic, background. I also attempted to integrate the material into the discussion of 
Sense of Place, which includes the criterion of access ( in broad terms) to places. 

The real test of whether any of this material made an impact will come next year as they 
prepare ideas for dwelling, educational, work, and recreational environments. 

The idea of asking students to fill out a personal profile was stimulated by this project. 
Also the material for talking about designing for people with different ability levels was 
gready enhanced and refined by the materials prepared and assembled by the Center for 
Adaptive Environments. The videos used were essential in a course of this type to begin to 
understand and empathize with people who are different that they are. In that sense I 
believe the experiment in LA 284 was a success to the extent that this course can contribute 
toward individual understanding of and sensitivity to designing for people with disabilities. 
If I could isolate the one area for improvement that would make a major impact in the 
course, it would be to have a well documented case study of a complex environment that 
fulfilled the goals of Universal Design. A case study with outstanding illustrations for 
classroom use would help make the concepts more real to students and make the connection 
between the idea of Universal Desisn and its tangible realization. 


LA 342 Intermediate Landscape Architectural Design I 

Principals: Albert J. Rutledge, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture 
Jeffrey Benson, Landscape Architect (private practice) 

"Oh, didn't I tell you? The representative user group all have disabilities." 


This studio (16 students) is the first studio (1 of 6) in the undergraduate professional 
program. It lays significant groundwork in the development of problem-solving skills. 
The subject type is typically "housing"; problems typically emphasize land analysis, land 
use allocation, concept development and articulation, 3-dimensional space formation, 
vehicular and pedestrian circulation as well as open space system planning. The solution 
expectation is a good cut above the beginner's level, but still short of an all-inclusive 
professional job. 

It's an excellent place to form sustaining design habits. 

Given the attention of the studio to site planning fundamentals, universal design principles 
could not be permitted to dominate the course. Rather, it was decided to introduce students 
to both the ADA and universal design considerations near the end of the semester when, 
ostensibly, students had become somewhat confident in their general problem solving 
abilities and could more productively digest an extraordinary "play in the game plan". 

It was decided to do so by shock effect. Hopefully, this a technique would make such an 
indelible impression that universal design considerations would become a habit 

Ironically, the striving was to make something ordinary by introducing it in an 
extraordinary way. 

The selected project is described on the attachment: an in-town housing development in 
which social factors were introduced as design determinants, specifically the phenomenon 
of "neighboring". Students were told to work toward a preliminary solution presentation to 
a "representative user group" for the purpose of providing an experience in testing ideas on 
potential users before moving into the final solution stage. Nothing further was said about 
the group. It was correctly assumed that they would imagine a traditional representation. 

One half hour before the students were to pin up their work for inspection by the 
representative users, the faculty casually mentioned (see the italics above) that the group 

1 . An Iowa DOT transportation specialist who is also deaf, plus his daughter who 
would sign for him. 

2. A computer specialist who is also blind. 

3 . The University coordinator of services for person with disabilities who is also a 
paraplegic who uses a motorized wheelchair. 

4. An 81 year old retiree who lives alone in an apartment. 

5 . A practicing landscape architect who also uses hand crutches to walk. 


Students knew the landscape architect as their occasional studio critic addressing 
their work according to his wealth of professional experience. However, he 
would now react from the perspective of his disability. (The client group was 
assembled by the landscape architect with the assistance of the University office 
for persons with disabilities. 

Upon this announcement, a great sucking sound was heard in the studio and it wasn't jobs 
going down to Mexico. 

The students pinned their work on the wall. They explained the vitals to each guest as the 
guests circulated around the room and gave their reactions. 

A round table discussion was held to offer general impressions and for the students to ask 
specific questions. 

During the next studio session, faculty lectured on the Americans With Disabilities Act, 
drawing particular attention to The Enabler Model as the paradigm to replace the "average 
person". Two videos were also shown to complete the background picture of the students' 

1 . A lecture from the UDEP conference on the political history of the ADA by Chris 

2 . The Lawrence Halprin video "Taking Part: a workshop approach to collective 
creativity" showing interns in his studio experiencing disabilities prior to 
designing a public space sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities. 

Two weeks remained in the project. Students were directed to incorporate insights gained 
from the presentation experience. They were also to prepare a sheet demonstrating the 
attention their plan paid to universal design. Expectations were modest (students were to 
demonstrate simply one aspect of universal design sensitivity in their work) - but we hope 
telling as a forerunner to fuller attention as general expectations of expertise increase in 
higher level studio courses. 

Reflections on Results 

While this student body was merely average in their skill level for this stage in the 
curriculum, they were considerably above average in maturity and desire to leam. The rude 
announcement of the user group was met with stunned silence. The class had pulled an all- 
nighter. They had psyched themselves up to address one group. Another very, very 
unfamiliar group was now at hand. Perhaps the periodic presence of the class critic using 
crutches had put them somewhat at ease among people with disabilities. Regardless, most 
thoughts turned quickly to formulating new approaches. 

How does one explain a design to a blind person, for instance? "Easy," one student said 
after the fact. "We used points of the compass as our frame of reference." 

The discussions were animated during the circulation period. Students seemed relieved to 
have discovered an easy rapport. The client group helped the atmosphere, of course. They 
talked directly about the project in terms of providing for persons with their disability. 
They seemed interested in the work and excited themselves to be a part of the learning 


Neither students nor clients had problems opening up with questions and answers during 
the round table finale. Insights gained included learning how blind people memorize a site 
(including the utility of landmarks) and how disorienting curving or zigzag pavements can 
be; how grade change ought not to be abrupt, rather gradual to help one acclimate to newly 
called for gait, the importance of opportunities for casual contact with other people; how 
traffic lanes should not be interjected between an auto parking stall and one's destination; 
how desirable is the scattering of recreations amenities throughout the site, as opposed to 
centralizing them in one place. 

Students demonstrated notable sensitivity to universal design notions in the final work. 
Most came forth with at least one substantial feature. See the attached example of student 
work. Positive features identified in critique included: 

1 . Decentralized recreation amenities distributed throughout the site. 

2. Convenient and highly accessibility parking lots with drop-offs even more 
convenient to housing units. 

3 . Mixture of dwelling types to maximize integration of residents. 

4. 6'-8' walks (also walks of varying widths) to accommodate wheelchair passage. 

5 . Much attention to way finding: 90 intersections, marked by attention-catching 
features x tree canopy treatments, pavement makers and other distinct 
landmarks along pedestrian ways. "Sensory landmarks" were also employed - 
acoustical art, fragrant flowers, etc. 

Negative aspects identified in critique centered mostly on confusing circulation patterns 
including unnecessary multiple entries, confusion often aggravated by misleading 
"environmental cues." See the attached example of student work and note, for instance, an 
entryway that begins as a boulevard suggesting a major collector artery, but soon peters out 
into a back entrance to a parking lot. 

Most universal design features were simply responses to the ideas verbalized during the 
preliminary session round table. But at least the kids were listening. And more 
importantly, trying. 

Whether there be lasting impressions and particular payoff in professional practice where it 
really counts, who can say. It appears thought to be a good start. 

Next Step 

While projects in LA 342 stayed at what might be termed "organizational scale", e.g. 
1"=100', 1"=5-', LA 343, the next studio will permit greater detail to be addressed, the 
projects perhaps starting at 1"=40', down to perhaps 1"=10'. LA 342 played with 
concepts and general layouts. LA 343 will add construction detailing. 

Two universal design-focused projects are imagined. Both will stress the need to make 
universal design concessions an unconscious-appearing part of the development . . . truly 
integrated in the scheme. Project One will be a step and ramp complex which will be 
approached as landform sculpture. A scale model will result. The design period will be 
proceeded by a disability role playing experience conducted by a professional disability 
awareness group. Project Two will be an urban civic space. As opposed to LA 342's 


hospital used in the initial sketch problem. Phase I involved research and development of a 
program document for each project. 

The research, program document, and the other class experiences provided the background 
for the design work during the remaining weeks of the semester. Students, working in 
two-three person teams, spent five weeks working on developing a design concept for their 
selected area. This project required the comprehensive design of a setting of moderate 
complexity and employed substantial direction from faculty. A preliminary peer review 
was held October 1 1 to provide direction for more detail concept development 

The major critique incorporated a variety of jurors: representatives of the hospital and the 
Ames Alzheimer's support group, faculty with elderly parents in assisted living or dementia 
care units, interior design faculty, architecture faculty who actively work in the health 
care/elderly area. This four hour session on October 28 was video taped. Again it was 
clear that the application of universal design principles, as well as other legal requirements 
or social concerns, were not sufficiently or consistentiy integrated into the design concept 

Four team projects that were generally strong, but that contained serious problems, were 
selected as examples. To make the point of design accountability, a mock trial format was 
used to emphasize the personal responsibility of the designer for the impact of the design 
decisions. This includes satisfying the intentions of the Americans With Disabilities Act as 
well as codes and other areas of professional liability. This simulation was based on the 
Moot Court used at Arizona State University (Di Cicco & Reznikoff, 1992). 

During class on November 15, the Story County sheriff (a graphic design faculty member) 
appeared to deliver summons to four interior design teams to appear in court the next class 
meeting (November 17). Each summons was for a different complaint, including one for 
failure to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act. Prosecutors and defense attorneys 
were named on each summons, so that every student was involved in a case. When the 
sheriff left and the students recovered from their shock, the moot court procedures were 
explained and the remainder studio time was used to prepare for both sides of defense in 
the trails. One faculty member acted as advisor for the defense and the other faculty 
member acted as advisor for the prosecutors. 

On trial date, a large room was organized with tables for the defense and prosecution, a 
witness stand (red chair), table for the judge, and chairs at the back of the room for 
visitors. Chairs were placed in three for the larger group of students currently not part of 
the defense or prosecution to act as the jury. The court was called to order by the bailiff, 
the judge in his black academic robe appeared, and witnesses were sworn in using the 
design bible, Time Saver Standards for Interior Design. The use of expert witnesses from 
the college and community was encouraged and several faculty served this purpose. The 
proceedings were video taped. 

Students were given an opportunity to refine their design in the two weeks of class after the 
mock trial. There was considerable energy and involvement involved in understanding 
codes and issues of social responsibility. Projects in some cases were totally revised. At 
this point students were working in the Accountability Level; they were involved in the 
conscious application of universal design principles, health and safety standards, and other 
issues related to program requirements. About two-thirds of the students elected to 
complete this final phase of the project on their own; the other third of the students 
continued in their design teams, but developed refinements, details, and some working 
drawings for their entire project. 


modest expectation of attention of universal design, full attention will be expected in this 

ARTID 465 


Using three of the four levels of awareness teaching modules (consciousness, engagement, 
and accountability), ArtID 465 Interior Design Studio V tried to provide a means of main- 
streaming universal design. It addressed upper division students who had not previously 
focused on issues of universal access and use. The intent was to integrate Universal 
Design principles into most aspects of practice, rather than being viewed as add-on 
requirements or a code compliance annoyance. Universal Design was one of five current 
issues that were researched and layered onto other design considerations. The other issues 
were: health and safety, socially responsible design concerns. A major educational goal 
for this course was to establish student accountability and documentation for design 
research and design decision making. 

It was assumed that the senior students had sufficient background with universal design 
principles to be beyond the Consciousness and Engagement levels. So, the awareness 
module focus of this course was to be on the Accountability Level. To verify (pre-test) 
student background and to set the stage for a larger scale project, students were given a two 
week-long sketch problem: a small entrance lobby for a county hospital. The project was 
assigned the first day of class (August 23). Each team was assigned an environmental 
component on which to focus in developing their concept. They were required to use the 
P.A.Th.Way.S. method or similar technique for documenting their accountability. The 
results of this sketch problem (presentation, September 8) indicated that only one out of the 
ten groups actively addressed universal design issues. This required course adjustment to 
integrate components of the first two modules (consciousness and engagement levels) into 
the course. 

The next class meeting (September 13) addressed the Consciousness Level (becoming 
aware of what it means to be a person with a disability). This was achieved by indirect and 
empathic exposure through viewing a video, Designing Environments for Everyone by 
Lawrence Halprin, and follow-up discussions. [This videotape was shown to all of the 
sophomore and junior interior design students as well.] 

On September 29 Lynn Paxson, Assistant Professor of Architecture, presented an 
overview on the importance of dealing with socially relevant issues. Students visited 
Green Hills, an excellent local extended care and assisted living facility, in Ames on 
September 27 to interact with the residents and staff. 

The Engagement Level (experiencing disability) was achieved through direct exposure by 
having each student assume disabilities. Welcome to my World, an experiential workshop 
was led by Robert E. Jeppesen, Executive Director for the Central Iowa Center for 
Independent Living (CICIL) on September 22. Students experienced several disabilities 
(sight, dyslexia, impair limbs, speech, mobility, hearing) and interacted with the President 
of CICIL, who is a quadriplegic. A lively question and answer session was part of the 
workshop. [All sophomore and junior interior design students participated in two 
additional sessions of this workshop.] 

During this time, students were working as a class team on Phase I of their design project: 
half worked on a dementia unit; half dealt with an assisted living wing in the county 


The semester culminated with a two-hour informal critique of the projects, which was 
video taped. Many of the initial jurors reviewed the projects, supplemented by an 
expanded group of graphic design and architecture faculty. Because of time restraints, the 
final annotations of the projects occurred on the first day of studio for the spring semester. 


The approach of using modules provided flexibility within the studio to adjust to the 
student level of knowledge. After the first sketch problem, it was clear that the first two 
levels must be addressed, before any expectation of achieving the third level of 
accountability would be possible -- even though the students were seniors and supposedly 
had been involved in barrier free design in previous courses. 

The mock trial was an excellent active learning technique. Students felt that they 
understood their legal, as well as moral responsibility after preparing for and going through 
the trail process. They felt that some of the citations would be better placed after they had 
done more developed drawing and drafting, but agreed that they had a heightened 
awareness and interest in the issues, including ADA and universal design. From the 
extensive use of guidelines and code books in the final two weeks, the faculty would agree 
that a sense of accountability had been realized by most students. 

Like so many concepts and ideas presented in the education process, universal design will 
not stick with one exposure. Progressive intensity in the depth of information and diversity 
in the populations as students progress through the design curriculum - or even through a 
single course - is needed to produce the results needed: practicing professional designers 
who view universal design as a standard of practice, rather than a legislated, add-on 

If the modules are appropriately distributed throughout each curriculum, the concept of 
universal design will become an integrated part of every aspect of design education so that 
universal design concepts will be integrated into students design values. 


Di Cicco, D.B. & Reznikoff, S.C. (1992). Moot court: demonstrate and evaluate design 
competencies. Research Resources: 1992 IDEC International Conference Proceedings, 
21-24. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of 
Justice (USDOJ), (1992, October). American With Disabilities Act Handbook. 

* Federal Register (1991, July). American With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines 

*Mace, Ron, Graeme Hardie and Jaine Place (1991). i Accessible Environment; Toward 
Universal Design,! in Design Intervention: Toward a More Humane Architecture, edited by 
Preiser, Wolfgang, et al. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 

Lusher, Ruth Hall (1988, February). iDesigning for the Life Span,i in The Construction 

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (1992, October). Design Guide for 
Universal Access to Outdoor Recreation, draft. 


United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) (1992, January). The American With 
Disabilities Act, Title II, Technical Assistance Manual. 

*Reznikoff, S.C. (1989). Specification for Commercial Interiors, Revised Edition. N.Y.: 
Whitney Publishing. 


* in reference list above denotes student readings 
additional readings included: 

* iUnhandicappted Our Language! compiled by Paul K. Longmore 

* iFact sheet 6: Definitions: Accessible, adaptable, and universal design,! Center for 
Accessible Housing. 

* Guidelines for reporting and writing about people with disabilities, Third edition (1990). 
The Research and Training Center on Independent Living. 

*i01der People -- Where is Home?! (Winter & Spring 1989). Design and Construction 
Newsletter, Vol. 5, Number 1 & 2. The College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin- 

*!Cutting Through the Red Tap of Codes Research,! The ASID Report. (March/May 
1989). Terri Long, ASID. 

Arvid Osterberg 

After a number of discussions with various faculty members in the Department of 
Architecture, two approaches for the integration of universal design concepts into the 
curriculum were selected for inclusion in the UDEP projects for the fall semester. Below is 
a brief review of the results of the two approaches taken during the fall semester. 


Integration of materials into Arch 240, Materials and Methods 
(3 credits, 130 students) 

Architecture 240 is a required course in the technologies area which is currently being 
taught by Professor Bruce Bassler, a faculty member with extensive experience in 
architectural practice, teaching, and research. The prerequisite for the course is completion 
of the pre-professional program and admission into the professional program. The course 
is an introduction to common architectural materials, their physical properties, and their 
integration into light construction subsystems. The course includes materials on model 
building codes, gravitational and climatic forces, and simplified methods of analysis for the 
preliminary design of building systems. 

During the semester Professor Osterberg gave a guest lecture on the subject of ADAAG 
standards, as related to the course subject area of icodes and standards.! The lecture 


included a portion of the iUniversal Designi video tape provided by the UDEP project in 
order to raise consciousness and provide indirect exposure to the need for universal design. 
The 90 minute lecture also included a portion of a video tape made as part of the ISU-ADA 
project, which is a thorough and detailed study of the ISU campus currently being 
completed under Professor Osterbergis supervision. The research study is being completed 
to determine the deficiencies of 150 buildings and exterior spaces (parking, routes of travel, 
building entrances, etc.) as defined by ADAAG. 

At the end of the lecture, students were assigned (in teams of two) specific locations to 
analyze, as per ADAAG. Teams of students were assigned several different locations in 
and near the College of Design for analysis. Each team was required to measure and record 
ADAAG deficiencies using sketches and notes on a form that was specifically prepared for 
the exercise. Several of the exercises were video taped during the exercise for later analysis 
and use. Each project was reviewed and graded, and examples have been included herein. 

Overall reaction to the exercise by students and their instructor was quite positive. 
iConsciousnessi (level 1) was raised through the lecture and the two video tapes shown 
during the lecture. Additionally, iengagementi (level 2) was vicariously achieved through 
hands on measuring and scrutiny of the ADAAG standards. iAccountabilityi (level 3) was 
achieved throughout the evaluation and grading of the studentis drawings and notes. The 
fourth level of iintegrationi was not attempted as part of this exercise. 


Integration of universal design concepts into architectural design studios at various levels 

Informal input was made into several architectural design studio projects that included 
issues of human needs relating to universal design concepts. The iUniversal Designi video 
tape provided by UDEP was used on several occasions. At the beginning of one design 
studio project in Architecture 201, (taught by Professor Lynn Paxson) students were 
required to complete isensitivityi readings from Raymond Lifchezfs book, Rethinking 
Architecture, and other selected readings. Following the readings, there were several in- 
class discussions covering varying issues relating to accessibly and universal design. 

Overall reaction to the integration of universal design concepts into architectural design 
studios was positive. However, results thus far have not been consistent from one studio, 
(and instructor) to another. The iconsciousnessi level (level 1) was raised in some studios 
through the use of video tapes and sensitivity readings and discussions. iAccountabilityi 
(level 3) was also achieved, to a limited extent, through comments made by students and 
faculty members during project reviews, and by the evaluation and grading of the studentis 
designs and drawings. However, overall accountability was difficult to measure, because 
of the high number of students and faculty involved at various levels of architectural design 
in the curriculum. 

iEngagementi (level 2) and the iintegrationi (level 4) were not attempted as part of the 
approach to integrate universal design concepts into architectural design studios during the 
fall semester of 1993. 

Spring 1994 

Only four of the team members, Al Rutledge, Arvid Osterberg, Fred Malven, and Dorothy 
Fowles, taught spring semester courses in which the principles of Universal Design were 
integrated. I, Mark Chidister was involved with full time administration and not in the 


classroom last spring. However, I wanted to put down my thoughts on the overall project 
and the impact it has had on my teaching. Those thoughts follow: 

My involvement with the UDEP project did not grow out of a long-standing research 
agenda on accessible environments. In fact, I knew very little about the Americans with 
Disabilities Act or Universal Design before the project. Two years ago I attended a half- 
day session on Universal Design held at the annual meeting of the American Society of 
Landscape Architects in Washington, DC Elaine Ostroff, Susan Goltsmann, and Joe Mead 
were three of the five speakers. Their presentations solidified the importance of UDEP and 
the need to integrate material on universal design into design curricula. Following that 
meeting, I encouraged several of my colleagues to join me in submitting a grant proposal. 

Receipt of the grant was, however, somewhat humbling. We could no longer talk, we had 
to do something. The experience of confronting how one can incorporate the principles of 
universal design into curricula was a valuable one. It has dramatically changed my 
approach to teaching. The project was the vehicle for me to come up to speed on the 
requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the principles of universal design. 

I also became convinced that the Iowa State teamis original concept of integrating the 
material into many courses at several levels of intensity proved to be the best approach for 
our situation. We did not want a stand-alone course that might make it easy or tempting for 
a student to compartmentalize the information. We wanted them to confront the 
information in several different venues to reinforce the message: designing universally is 
something you do on every project. I think the message is beginning to get across. 

The funded project is now over, but the work continues. There are several residual 
activities that are direct outcomes of UDEP. Since the projectis ending, I have participated 
in a panel discussion of the Universal Design Education Project at the annual meeting of the 
Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. The panel also included Elaine Ostroff, 
Susan Goltsman, Jean Stephens Kavanagh, Dean Bork, and Bemie Dahl. This fall I will 
be giving a presentation on Universal Design at a park planning conference attended by 
individuals from Iowa municipalities. At Iowa State, the team is planning to conduct a 
panel presentation of the topic for our colleagues. This will be part of the Department of 
Landscape Architecturefs lecture series. Iowa Statefs extension landscape architect, Julia 
Badenhope, is in the fmal stages of planning a continuing education conference for Iowa 
practitioners. The topic will be Universal Design. Next fall, Iowa State is hosting the 
Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture annual meeting. We are beginning to 
explore how to continue the dialogue at that conference. Finally, I will be returning to full 
time teaching next year and the experience gained and materials provided by this project 
will be forming a major part of the studios I will be conducing. There are probably more 
that lim not aware of. 

In summary, the project was very valuable for my development as design instructor. It has 
provided me with the information, tools, and ideas to deal with the subject of Universal 
Design in both the introductory courses I teach and studios. We all appreciate the efforts of 
the Center for Adaptive Environments and their willingness to let us participate in the 

LA 343 Intermediate Landscape Architectural Design II 

Principals: Albert J. Rutledge, Professor, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, ISU, 


Robert Shibley, Professor, Dept. of Architecture, SUNY, Buffalo and 
national consultant to the Universal Design Education Project (Critic) 

"No, it is not an option. You will meet the 5% minimum grade requirement. Think of it as 
an adventure." 


This studio occurred in the semester immediately following LA 342 where the ADA and 
universal design considerations were introduced by "shock effect" (see the 342 presentation 
elsewhere in this report). Most of the same students were involved. 

As opposed to LA 342, which addressed primarily large scale (li = lOOi +/-) site planning 
problems, LA 343 focused upon small scale problems (l'=10" +/-) where hard form 
expression and design detailing distinguish the work. 

As implied on the attached problem statement, the underlying idea of this project was to 
discourage the though of universal design as an obtrusive add-on; rather it was stressed as 
a creative challenge ... the creative challenge ... the way you earn your keep. 

A small park on a sloping site between two commercial buildings was to be designed as a 
place to stop as well as a place to move through. On-grade access was to be provided to 
the commercial buildings approximately halfway into the park. No grades could be steeper 
than 5%. The immediate solution was to zigzag the full length of the park several times in a 
series of narrow hair-pin walks. This would not be permitted on one simple count alone: 
the results would be a self-conscious statement of addressing the needs of persons with 
disabilities - a totally utilitarian work at the expense of everybody's aesthetic sensibilities. 
Moreover and most important, such a self-conscious treatment was argued as an offense to 
the dignity of persons with disabilities. Better to have a sensitively integrated scheme 
which would appear as a normal part of the design composition. 

Students were to treat the site as one sculptural unit, handling the grade requirements with a 
butter knife as opposed to the easier way out - with a blunt machete. 

To ensure a focus on the necessity of a maximum 5% grade, the studio was equipped with 
two wheelchairs. Every students had to use a chair on all ventures out of the studio room 
for the full studio period (to go to the bathroom, get a Coke, meet a friend, buy vellum at 
the in-house College store, etc.). 

The fmished work was presented to Bob Shibley, in town as a happy coincidence to 
discuss the administration of the UDEP project per se. 


Simply put - the class turned out some of the finest design work I can remember at this 
level of expectation. Many "personal bests" as well as a number of exceptional, goose- 
bump generating pieces. 

Most of the students in the class having been through the "shock" orientation to ADA 
during the first term, they took to meeting the 5% requirement as a matter of course. 
Having met the requirement with classy results (reinforced by having a national leader in 
the field (Shibley review the work) advances the possibility of them automatically taking a 
universal design posture in professional work to come. 


Interestingly, another studio at the same level did the same project. They were simply 
urged (as opposed to required) to meet the 5% grade standard. Most did not. 

During the 1994 summer, one student having had both studios, wrote of his landscape 
architectural internship with the United States Forest Service. His first task was to suggest 
ways of making facilities comply with ADA standards. The other interns in that office 
from other schools responded to the assignment with varying ways of saying "Huh?". The 
ISU student went easily to work. 

Aftermath/Next Steps 

The same approach for LA 342 and 343 will be taken during 1994-95 with a different batch 
of students. The 1993-94 group took to the work readily. We will be paying close 
attention to the influence on the new classes and compare results. 

Intermediate Landscape Architectural Design II: LA 343 
A I Rutledge 

(Site as Sculpture) 

"De plane, boss, de plane . . " 

As a testimony to the notion of universal design, create a "non self-conscious" integration 
of steps, ramps and plateaus for Burnett park (including the east building rear landing) that 
negotiates the grade change between the parking lot and Main Street. Your system must: 

provide at-grade access to the plaza entrances to Lucullan 's and Gifted Hands as well as to 

the rear landing of the east building. (You may change the present rear landing scheme to 

incorporate it more fully into the park.) 

provide outdoor eating/sitting space. 

fit into its context. 

meet ADA technical standards as well as conventional ergonometric standards (riser-tread 

ratios, sitting heights/widths, etc.) where appropriate. 

Your work will be perceived primarily as a composition of planes (base, vertical, overhead) 
manifested as pavements, walls, railings, screens, and pergolas. Your design should 
significantly utilize the aesthetic effects of natural light. 


A model constructed with beige-colored illustration board at l/8i = lf-Oi, showing all the 
detail possible at the scale needed to express your concept. 

Maintain existing building facades and entrances (including those reachable only by 
stairways). Eliminate all existing plant material (including the near vicinity along Main 

Evaluation for project grade (20% of course grade) will pay particular attention to: 


Design composition, especially the rhythmic quality of the sculpture. Model 

Time Line 

Wed, Feb. 16 Assigned w/ ADA special requirement. Prepare base data. Initial site 

(including grades) 
Fri, Feb. 1 8 Conclude initial site exam if needed. Site visits to experience the place to be 

on-going throughout the life of the project 
Mon, Feb. 21 Produce concept (paper and cheap material study model) 
Wed, Feb. 23 Produce concept (paper and cheap material study model) 
Fri, Feb. 25 Produce concept (paper and cheap material study model) 
Mon, Feb. 28 Concept due/present (study model) 
Wed, Mar. 2 Produce finished model 
Fri, Mar. 4 Produce finished model 
Mon, Mar. 7 Produce finished model 

Wed, Mar. 9 Finished model DUE. Present/discuss beginning 9:00 a.m. 
NOTE: Friday, March 1 1 Progress report on major project 2 DUE in form for discussion. 

ArtID 167— Interior Design Foundations 


ArtTD 167 is the introductory studio course for all interior design students. 
Effective this past year, it is the only applied studio taken by students prior to their 
screening for selective admission into the Interior Design Program. As such, it is 
an ideal site for initial exposure to "universal design" issues. These influenced 
course planning in several ways: 

1 . Professional Identification with Universal Design . The course is charged 
with helping clarify the student's understanding and functional definition of 
their proposed field of study. In this capacity, the course described the 
facilitation of individual rights to access and use of the built environment as an 
inherent responsibility of all design professions. Activity and success related 
to universal design intentions was cited as a probable source of professional 
gratification, positive identification and satisfaction with the field. 

2. Project Emphasis on Universal Design . An awareness of fundamental 
human factors concerns in interior design- with an emphasis on universal 
access and use- was a stated objective of the course. Every project included a 
stated expectation that consideration of universal design issues must be evident 
in process work accompanying the final submission. Two projects (Projects 3 
and 6) included universal access and use as priority project goals. 

3. Focused Application of ADAAG . The Americans with Disabilities Act and 
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) were given 
particular attention. All students were given a copy of the ADAAG and 
selected sections were highlighted for coverage by examination. One session 
was devoted to the refinement of a small-scale public amenity (a public 
telephone) by careful examination, interpretation and application of the 

4. Universal Design as a Critical Dimension . Although universal design was a 
stated priority for only two of seven projects, juries for all projects were 


instructed to address important access and use issues. Universal design came 
to be seen the student's implied responsibility. 


Although the semester was punctuated by regular attention to universal design, four 
key activities were pivotal in establishing student sensitivity to the issue: 

1 . Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICILV In the third week of 
the semester, all students participated in simulations of several disabilities. 
Sessions were staged by the staff of the Central Iowa Center for Independent 
Living, based in Des Moines, Iowa. They were held in Iowa State 
University's College of Design building. Students participated in: 

a. Simulated sight impairment using goggles and glasses which fogged 
and/or distorted vision. Students negotiated the building with the 
assistance of peer(s). They were asked to note problems associated with 
high contrast lighting (including direct glare of the sun), low color 
contrast, objects projecting into space, signage, uneven floors, etc. 

b. Simulated sight loss , using blindfolds. Again, students walked 
through the building accompanied by peer(s) who helped note problems 
similar to the above but with a special emphasis on way finding. 

c. Loss of fine motor control , using tape to immobilize hands. Students 
were asked to perform manual tasks, including the operation of a variety 
of building controls and hardware. 

d. Loss of mobility . Students were asked to move through the 
building in a conventional wheelchair, stopping to use features such as 
elevators, drinking fountains, public toilets, fire stair landings, etc. 

The session attracted an unusually high level of student participation and 
enthusiasm. Students engaged in personal and group experimentation beyond 
the basic parameters established by CICIL. One evidence of the success of the 
program was voluntary adoption of similar simulation techniques by students 
explore the universal design requirements of projects later in the semester. 

2. Wheelchair-Guided Tour of Campus Interiors . Soon after the CICIL 
program, students participated in a walking tour of significant campus 
interiors. While the purpose and emphasis of the tour was on technical, 
operational and aesthetic subjects, two Iowa State University students who use 
wheelchairs (who were not design majors) agreed to accompany the tour. 
Their parenthetical reference to access and use features from their perspective 
proved to be highly successful. They effectively established universal design 
as an appropriate "overlay" for discussions of many other types of design 

3 . Vestibule Project . One of the interiors visited on the above tour was a 
centralized student lounge and information center called The Hub. For their 
third project of the semester, students were asked to redesign a small vestibule 
in this building. The space included a public telephone which was poorly 
designed for use by any user but was particularly ill-suited for use by persons 
confined to a wheelchair or using other form of mobility aid. 

The small size of the space and the unavoidable demands of the 
dysfunctional telephone forced students to deal with technical criteria related to 
universal design. After participating in a highly structured analysis and 
redesign of a conventional public telephone using ADAAG criteria, students 
applied the process independently to the project at hand. There were at least 
three significant outcomes: 


a. Reinforcement of universal design as a priority issue was fostered 
by first-hand experience of students, e.g. their use of the phone and other 
features of the project site while simulating confinement to a wheelchair. 

b. Confidence in dealing with universal design was bolstered by 
successful use of technical criteria, such as the ADAAG. 

c. Recognition of universal design as a source of creative insight . This was 
achieved by encouraging use of functional features (such as phone 
stations redesigned for efficient use by mobility impaired) as driving 
influences on broader aesthetic and technical decisions. 

4. Winnebago Project, The final project of the semester focused on conceptual 
design of a large-sized motor home (recreational vehicle) suitable for use by an 
aged adult population. The project was a joint project of Iowa State University 
and Winnebago Industries of Forest City, Iowa. Criteria included 
accommodation of the broadest possible range of potential owners and users. 
Compliance with the ADAAG was encouraged as a goal. There were at least 
three significant outcomes: 

a. Reinforcement of universal design as a priority issue was provided 
by a tour of current motor homes at the manufacturing facility. This gave 
students a chance to evaluate issues of universal access, use and safety in 
a setting for which such goals may previously have seemed unwarranted. 

b. Exposure to an expanded range of universal design options . The 
unconventional (i.e., automotive) nature of the project caused students to 
explore problems less commonly encountered in building interiors- slight 
level changes, unusually compact functional areas, requirements for multi- 
functional space use, problems of restraint while in motion, etc. From 
discussion, it was clear that students were developing an ability to 
generalize solution concepts and apply them across differences in setting 
types- specifically, they were able to apply building concepts to a vehicle 
and vice-versa. 

c. Awareness of the designer's role as an agent of change . This was 
reinforced when students witnessed the enthusiasm with which industry 
sponsors greeted concepts which might better adapt their product to the 
large population of functionally disadvantaged users. 


The semester demonstrated the value of beginning sensitivity and exposure to 
universal design at the earliest possible moment in a student's professional 
development. The previous semester's work with senior interior design students 
would suggest a degree of "unlearning" is sometimes required before upper 
division students can begin to internalize universal design issues. Introduced in the 
first semester, universal design concepts seem to supplement (rather than displace) 
other elements of the student's value structure. 

Beyond forming a basic sensitivity to universal design, several freshman 
participants in this project came understand universal design processes as potential 
creativity tools. This rather sophisticated view seems to offer the promise of even 
higher levels of attainment among upper division students in the very near future. 

A review of continuing activities for 1994-1995 
Arvid Osterberg 

Following the successful integration of UDEP materials and universal design philosophy in 
the Department of Architecture in the 1993-1994 academic year, the following approaches 


for the integration of universal design concepts into the curriculum are continuing into the 
1994-1995 academic year. It is interesting a note that the continuation of the approaches 
described below have not been actively promoted by the UDEP representative (Professor 
Osterberg). Instead, continuation of these activities result from the success of the UDEP 
last year. 

Below is a brief description of the approaches taken during the past year that are continuing 
during the current academic year. 

Approach Number 1 

Integration of materials into Arch 241, Materials and Methods (3 credits, 130 students) 

Architecture 240 is a required course in the technologies area which is currently being 
taught by Professor Bruce Bassler, a faculty member with extensive experience in 
architectural practice, teaching, and research. The course is an introduction to common 
architectural materials, their physical properties, and their integration into light construction 
subsystems. The course includes materials on model building codes, gravitational and 
climatic forces, and simplified methods of analysis for the preliminary design of building 

During the fall semester Professor Osterberg will give a guest lecture on the subject of 
ADAAG standards, as related to the course subject area of codes and standards The 
lecture will include the universal Design video tape provided by the UDEP project in order 
to raise consciousness and provide indirect exposure to the need for universal design. The 
90 minute lecture will also include a segment from a video tape made a part of the ISU- 
ADA project, which is a thorough and detailed study of the ISU campus recently completed 
under Professor Osterberg's supervision. The research included a comprehensive 
inventory of building and site deficiencies on campus dealing with parking, routes of 
travel, building entrances, accessible routes, and other issues as defined by ADAAG. 

During the lecture, students will be assigned (in teams of two) specific locations to analyze, 
as per ADAAG. Teams of students will be assigned different locations for their analysis 
than last year. Each team will be required to measure and record ADAAG deficiencies 
using sketches and notes on a form that was specifically prepared for the exercise. Selected 
segments of the video tapes exercises completed last year will be shown to the students in 
order to more effectively communicate what the exercises are all about. A composite video 
tape is currently being prepared for this purpose. Completed projects will be reviewed and 
graded by Professor Bassler and his teaching assistants. 

Reactions to the exercises completed last year was positive. It is evident that consciousness 
(level 1) was raised through the lecture and the video tapes shown during the lecture. 
Additionally, engagement (level 2) was vicariously achieved through hands on measuring 
and scrutiny of the ADAAG standards. Accountability (level 3) was achieved through the 
evaluation and grading of the students drawings and notes. The fourth level of integration 
was not attempted as part of this exercise, but it now becoming evident in the design studio 
projects completed by these students. 

Approach Number 2 

Integration of universal design concepts into architectural design studios at various levels 

Informal input will continue in several architectural design studio projects that include 
issues of human needs relating to universal design concepts. The Universal Design! video 
tape provided by UDEP has already been requested by several studio instructors, and will 
be put on reserve in the College of Design Reading Room. 


In a design studio project in Architecture 201, taught by Professor Lynn Paxson, students 
will be required to complete isensitivityi readings including sections from Raymond 
Lifchezfs book Rethinking Architecture and other selected readings. Following the 
readings, there will be in-class discussions covering varying issues relating to accessibly 
and universal design. 

Overall reaction to the integration of universal design concepts into architectural design 
studios continues to be positive. However, accountability is difficult to measure because of 
the number of students and faculty involved at various levels of architectural design in the 
curriculum. Consciousness has definitely been raised at all levels, and is becoming 
increasingly evident in design problem statements and interim and final design reviews. 

New approaches for the 1994-1995 year 

Integration of universal design concepts into other courses 

Another way of integrating universal design concepts into the architecture curriculum is by 
enhancing existing design elective courses. Professor Osterberg plans to do this by 
working individually with faculty members who teach the design elective courses. This is 
especially important in achieving engagement (level 2), and accountability (level 3) for 
upper level students, as a variety of design elective courses and taken by graduating seniors 
and graduate students. 

New course on universal design 

Professor Osterberg is currendy teaching a new course entitled Architecture 471, Design 
for All People The class includes students majoring in architecture, interior design, art and 
design, and design studies. Students are currently working in teams in researching issues 
related to Universal Design. In the second half of the semester, students will choose 
individual research topics on issues related to Universal Design and will be asked to 
complete research reports on their selected subjects. See attached syllabus for an overview 
of the course. 

Department of Architecture Iowa S ^ate 


Syllabus for Arch 47 1 


Design for all People 

Fall Semester 1994, TR 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., 206 Town Engineering 

Course Description 

Architecture 47 1 is an elective course that is open to students in architecture and related 
disciplines. Design is neither a prerequisite nor a required pan of the course, which covers 
principles and procedures of universal design in response to the varying ability levels of 
users. Students assess and analyze existing buildings and sites to understand standards 
and details of accessibility of all users, including visually impaired, mentally impaired, and 
mobility restricted users. 

Course Objectives 


To develop an in depth understanding of important issues related to the field of accessibility 
standards and universal design. To be able to interpret the intent and requirements of the 
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). 
To gain insights regarding the relative roles of government organizations, voluntary 
agencies, and private sector involvement in the accessibility movement. 

Course Outline 

Students complete assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions on current 
issues important to the topic. Students work in discussion groups to address selected 
issues and complete both group and independent research projects. 


The course consists of seminar discussions and field studies covering the subject of 
accessibility standards and universal design. The course is open to undergraduate and 
graduate students. 

Projects and Evaluation Criteria 

Independent study and corresponding research report, An Empathic Approach to Building 
Analysis (term project - 50%), other assignment(s) (25%), seminar contribution (25%). 


The Accessible Housing Design File, by Barrier Free Environments, Van Nostrand 
Reinhold, 1981, and compilation of selected readings. 


Kansas State University — Manhattan, KS 

College of Architecture and Design 



Breaking the Myth of Modernism 


Kansas State faculty proposed an interdisciplinary, multi-faceted approach to 
teaching universal design values and strategies. This approach assumed that to 
understand lifespan design, students would not only need to acquire knowledge, but 
also to reinforce the application of that knowledge in studio, including peer recogni- 
tion of highly aesthetic universal design responses. Three activities were proposed: 
the creation of resource modules for use in class, a Universal Design Awareness 
Week, and an awards program for excellence in universal design. 

Team members: 

Madlen Simon 
Assistant Professor of 
Architecture; Coordinator, 
Year I College studios 

Lyn Norn's Baker 
Professor ofArchitecture; 
Director, Center for Aging 

Larry Garvin 
Professor ofArchitecture 

The project was implemented differently than it was originally conceived due to 
limited funding and changes in faculty responsibilities. Universal design was inte- 
grated into the syllabus of one section of the first-year design studio by a faculty 
member who was relatively new to the issues. The original UDEP faculty grantee 
served as a mentor and advisor to the project. The first-year studio was selected 
because of interest from its faculty, the ability to involve students from all four profes- 
sional curricula, and the importance of introducing a universal design philosophy as 
early as possible in the students' course of study. 


The first year design studio enrolls students who intend to pursue architecture, 
landscape architecture, interior architecture, and interior design. Students pursuing 
any of the first three professional curricula are in the College of Architecture and 
Design; those pursuing interior design are in the College of Human Ecology. Twenty- 
nine students enrolled in the studio section. Universal design was not mentioned 
prior to studio enrollment. 

Universal design concepts were introduced in the spring semester studio, which is 
an introduction to serving human needs through design. The students have already 
had a semester of basic design principles. The spring semester studio includes two 
design problems: a chair design and a pavilion design, both based on fragments 
from Modern Movement architects. 

The studio was team-taught by two faculty and a graduate assistant. The faculty 
were particularly well-suited to teach a pilot section on universal design. One is the 
coordinator of the Year I Studios for the College-, the other has served as the KSU 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 

Chapter 7: Kansas State University 

The chair design problem 
helped introduce the basic 
philosophy and concepts of 
universal design. 

campus architect, working extensively on campus accessibility issues. The 
UDEP faculty grantee served as a resource person and visiting critic. 

The educational objectives for the first-year studio are to explore funda- 
mental topics, including spatial definition, spatial order, massing and form, 
envelope and enclosure, and interaction of color. The projects also provide 
opportunities for addressing related issues such as design decisions and the 
factors which influence them; design archetypes and precedents; significant 
buildings, landscapes, and interiors and their designers; design processes; 
and work habits, attitudes, and values. The first problem, designing a chair, 
is shared by all first-year studios, taught by nine faculty and two graduate 
assistants. The second project, designing a pavilion, is often approached 
differently by each instructor. The challenge was to adapt these existing 
problems to incorporate universal design concepts. The instructors' strategy 
was to allow students to explore design issues without specifically requiring 
consideration of universal design, and then requiring students to reconsider 
and re-investigate their projects with universal design in mind. 

Universal design concepts were introduced into the first project, the 
design of a chair, near the end of the three-week project. Each student was 
asked to design and build a full-scale cardboard model of a chair to suit his 
or her requirements. The review of these chairs initially focused on the 
ways in which each chair fit the unique needs of the designer. The faculty 
then introduced a variety of different users into the review process, includ- 
ing people who were young, old, large, small, and differently-abled with 
respect to the environment. These consultants sat in the chairs and discussed their 
reactions with the students. The intent of this portion of the studio was to heighten 
awareness of and sensitivity to "the other" as well as the self as user, and to highlight 
the philosophy and basic concepts of universal design. 

For the remainder of the semester, students worked on a problem that had previ- 
ously been used for studios in Year I. It was developed from a sequence written by 
Madlen Simon and her colleagues at Temple University in 1992 for a first year studio 
program coordinated by Professor Judy Bing. Students were asked to design a pavil- 
ion incorporating a fragment from a well-documented piece of Modem architecture. 
The pavilion was expected to accommodate a variety of simple indoor and outdoor 
spaces where individuals, couples, and small groups could gather and socialize. The 
program did not define specific requirements for these spaces. Students were asked 
to complete drawings and construct a model of the pavilion for review. No specific 
expectations about universal design were mentioned in the first phase of the project. 
The final phase was an opportunity for a universal design '"intervention and 



'Breaking the Myth of Modernism' 


Chair Problem. Designing and building a cardboard chair is a hands- 
on, full-scale experience in which each student explores his or her own 
particular needs for dimension, comfort, function, and aesthetic pleasure. 
After the class reviewed the chairs for how well they fit their designers, a 
group of guests arrived to re-review the chairs. 

The guests included a woman with visual limitations and her infant son, 
a seven-year-old boy, a ten-year-old girl, a woman with mobility problems 
due to severe arthritis, an older woman, an obese person, and a very tall 
male college student. They circulated through the studio trying out chairs 
and discussed with students how the various designs facilitated or ham- 
pered their own sitting experiences. The guests responded enthusiastically 
to the wide range of solutions the students had generated. Their criticism 
covered a range of needs outside the personal experience of a vigorous 
group of nineteen year olds. The guests were sensitive to issues such as 
proportion, height, back support, back angle, presence of arm rests, stabili- 
ty, and suitability for various tasks performed in the sitting position. Unlike 
faculty, they tended to emphasize the good attributes, rather than the defi- 

The majority of the students were interested in learning more about 
their chair designs. Only one student appeared completely resistant to 
learning from this situation. He insisted that his chair was primaiily a visual 
object and not designed to offer comfort to himself or to anyone else. The 
guests were particularly interested in the aesthetic properties of the chairs, 
which reinforced for students that universal design includes aesthetic experi- 
ence as well as functionality and accessibility. 

Pavilion Problem. For the remainder of the semester, students were asked to 
design a pavilion in a park-like setting that provided a variety of indoor/outdoor 
spaces in which individuals, couples, and small groups could sit. The pavilion project 
was divided into three phases: extending a building fragment into a pavilion; 
researching and documenting the four houses that served as sources for the fragments; 
and re-investigating the design, using the perspective of universal design. The first 
phase of the problem statement was to engage in analysis and manipulation of histori- 
cal precedent in a variety of media, using four fragments of houses designed by archi- 
tects from the Modern Movement. Since the program had been developed for other 
educational objectives, none of the houses was chosen with universal design criteria in 
mind. The four houses were: 

Guests of different ages, 
abilities, and sizes helped 
review the usability, com- 
fort, and aesthetics of the 
students ' chair designs. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 33 

Chapter 7: Kansas State University 

Frank Lloyd Wright's Goetsch-Winkler House 

Rietveld's Shroeder House 

Louis Kahn's Esherick House 

Richard Meier's Shamberg House 

§&!§?> & , 

Students developed a pro- 
ject based on a fragment of 
Modern architecture, and 
then re-explored the project 
to incorporate universal 

The first two weeks were spent introducing students to the con- 
cept of design language and, specifically, four different languages of 
form-making. They were given plans, sections, elevations, and 
axonometric views of a fragment of one of the Modem houses. 
This phase had an element of mystery because students were asked 
to extrapolate a whole from a part, a system from its elements, a 
language from a phrase — with no other information than the frag- 
ment drawings. Students worked in teams of two, making model 
studies in different materials and exploring how the fragments could 
be manipulated using the basic design principles introduced in their 
first semester. 

Having gained some understanding of the elements and ordering principles of 
each design language, the students designed pavilions by extending the spaces of his 
or her own fragment into a new form, using the language of the fragment. This strat- 
egy of investigation distanced the student from designing by personal preference and 
separated the activity of form-making from the association of familiar images with 
familiar activities. This problem served as a jumping-off point for beginning students 
entering a new world of possibilities. At the conclusion of the design phase, students 
moved into a research mode. Working in four teams of five to seven members, they 
documented the houses from which the fragments were drawn as another means of 
understanding the design languages. 

The formal introduction to universal design principles came after students had 
completed their designs for the pavilions. Paul Grayson, UDEP advisor, made a slide 
presentation illustrating how universal design can be applied to design. The students 
seemed exceptionally attentive and interested in the presentation because of its coin- 
cidence with a lecture by Japanese architect Hiroshi Hara. Grayson showed a num- 
ber of examples of universal design from Japan. 

After the presentation, students participated in an informal review with Grayson to 
consider how well their projects responded to the concept of universal design, an 
impetus for students to recreate their pavilions. At the end of the session, we intro- 


"Breaking the Myth of Modernism" 

duced the next phase: to transform the Pavilion models to incorporate prin- 
ciples of universal design and to promote accessibility as an aesthetic expe- 
rience. Students were asked to focus on "entering" as an activity important 
both functionally and symbolically to the building as a whole. This exercise 
gave them the opportunity to evaluate critically how well the language of 
iModernism supports universal design, and how this design language might 
be reinterpreted. The students clearly were convinced of the value of uni- 
versal design principles, as evidenced by their effort to identify many alter- 
natives to monumental stairs, multiple level changes, pipe railings, and other 
icons of Modernism. 

The students were, however, highly resistant to the idea of changing the 
models into which they had poured so much time, energy, and ego. 
Eventually, even the most resistant of the students began to modify their models. 
Some of the designs improved significantly as a result of applying new principles. As 
students focused their attention on the range of different modes by which people 
enter buildings, they produced more clearly delineated building entrances. By the 
conclusion of this phase of the Pavilion project, students were no longer claiming that 
"you could slip into the building anywhere," but had clearly defined the entrance as 
an event in the experience of the Pavilion. 

Paul Grayson critiques a 
student's pavilion from a 
universal design perspective. 

Dee Strickland, working with Frank Lloyd Wright's Goetsch- Winkler House, had 
designed a pavilion that relied on a flight of stairs for access to the second floor, 
lacked a primary entrance, and suggested no preferred route to the stairs. After 
Strickland overcame his reluctance to tamper with his finished model, he added an 
elevator adjacent to the stair and redesigned a balcony to become an entrance canopy- 
that shelters visitors. Improving the entrance in keeping with Wright's design language 
gave Strickland's pavilion the frontality it had been lacking. 

Shirley Beaner's pavilion, using a fragment of the Rietveld's Shroeder house, fea- 
tured a stair that wrapped around and up to the second level. Beaner considered 
replacing the stair with a ramp and was shocked to discover the length of ramp 
required to reach the second floor. Like Strickland, Beaner chose to offer options for 
vertical circulation, so she provided an elevator in addition to the stairs. 

This exercise in re-thinking requirements, re-defining goals, and re-designing a 
product was useful to students in forming their understanding of the design process. 
It helped students accept the model as a process tool rather than a precious product. 
The most popular response to the universal design challenge was to add an elevator. 
A few students incorporated ramps into their designs, but generally experienced diffi- 
culty in dealing with the length required. Some students worked with railing safety 
and others dealt with wayfinding issues in terms of paving and floor materials. All of 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 35 

Chapter 7: Kansas State University 

Sbitiey Beaner's Pavilion: 

Before the application of 
universal design principles. 

1 I . ■ 


1 l J 


, ; i 

= 1 

plan level 1 

plan Ifvtl 2 

s<x/th"w«st elevation 

north- wisl «l«vation 






c cr 
<o — 

the students approached the problem by trying to retrofit their designs. None of 
them extended the re-thinking process back to the parti. Perhaps the students need- 
ed more time for this phase of the project and perhaps should have been required to 
return to schematic design to address universal design criteria. 

At the end of the pavilion design exercise, on completing their model revisions, 
all students participated in an exercise in which they took turns using a wheelchair. 
Teams of students navigated, assisted, and observed as they made their way around 
the College of Architecture and Design, across the street to the K-State Union, through 
the bookstore, cafeteria, restrooms, and back to class. Limited time pre-cluded simu- 
lating other disabilities in this studio, but other opportunities exist in upper-level 
courses for such simulations. When the students returned to studio, three guests 
arrived for a review of the re-designed pavilions: the Tylers (a former police officer 
who is a wheelchair user and his wife who assists him) and the director of Disabled 
Student Services. The co-instructor for the studio, who had been campus architect 
when ADA was implemented on campus, also contributed an important perspective 
to the discussion. 


'Breaking the Myth of Modernism' 





H ' li 1 i i :■ 


tcvd 2 


ioutti-w«st e*«v»iion 

north- wtrt tkvjtior» 




^ cr 

(O — 


Shirley Beaner's Pairtlion: 

After the application of uni- 
versal design principles. 

After an hour of first-hand experience using a wheelchair, students were keen to 
talk and we had the most productive group session of the year. The direct physical 
experience of inability seemed to help the students internalize what had heretofore 
been a set of external ideas. This meeting evidenced tremendous progress in students' 
understanding from the initial experience of "otherness" in the chair project. We had 
been concerned that we were setting up a situation in which there would be tension 
between students and the wheelchair user. Instead, the students responded well to 
the consultants, who were able to help them translate their new experience into pro- 
grammatic and design considerations in relation to the Pavilion models. 

Lastly, in addition to providing crits of students' pavilion designs, Paul Grayson's 
visit provided an opportunity for a public lecture and for meeting Human Ecology fac- 
ulty members who are developing a universal design educational facility. The lecture 
coincided with a required course for Year V students in architecture and interior archi- 
tecture so that faculty and more advanced students were able to attend and benefit 
from his visit. Faculty and graduate students had informal opportunities to interact 
with Mr. Grayson at lunch and dinner. UDEP resource materials, particularly videos, 
were used in the studio and in both the professional practice and the environment 
and behavior classes in the fall semester. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 37 

Chapter 7: Kansas State University 


Should we have introduced a wide range of client needs at the outset of the pro- 
ject or focused on a particular client or user group as we entered the design process? 
By doing so, we would have missed an important step in the learning process. The 
concept of otherness may be understood best if presented in relation to the self. 
Designing for oneself gives the designer a necessary measure against which to under- 
stand the needs of others. The chair exercise helped students understand their own 
needs in relation to the range of human needs. In the initial review of the chairs, the 
students observed that the elasticity of young bodies compensates for design deficien- 
cies in the chair. The reviewers, however, required a closer fit between their physio- 
logical characteristics and the chair. The students learned that users are a varied 
group, rather than a uniform entity. This experience also focused students' attention 
more clearly on the specific functions of each part of the chair. 

Reviews ivith consultants 
helped translate the stu- 
dents' simulation experi- 
ences into programmatic 
and design considerations. 

This sequence of exercises introduced design students to the 
aesthetic of Modernism, a language of form that is loaded with cul- 
tural and political meanings. The concept of universal design 
offered a new opportunity to critique Modernism. The Modem 
Movement standardized the client and idealized human form, as 
exemplified by Le Corbusier's Modulor Man. Where Modernism 
promoted uniformity, universal design celebrates the diversity of 
real life. Modernism was an exclusionary discourse; universal 
design is inclusionary. 

The wheelchair experience might have been incorporated into 
the pavilion project earlier and expanded to include other kinds of 
physical challenges. The experiential learning could have rein- 
forced Grayson's presentation about the need for flexibility and accessibility in the 
environment. Our timing worked well , however, because the wheelchair trip gave 
the students a common ground for discussion with Toby Tyler. Tyler clearly appreci- 
ated the students' receptive attitude and willingness to discuss their experiences, such 
as being looked down upon at the information counter, traveling out of one's way to 
use an elevator, entering a building by the service entrance, and encountering inac- 
cessible restroom facilities. Over the course of the discussion, the students' comments 
shifted from describing the difficulties they encountered to expressing their feelings 
about the experience. One young man's description of his helplessness in the men's 
room was a particularly poignant reminder that design can make the difference 
between dignified self-sufficiency and frustrating dependency. 

Very little of a design professional's work takes place on a clean slate. Most 
design work consists of intervention in an existing environment. The heroic forms of 
modernism often fail to accommodate universal design goals. As our culture learns to 


"Breaking the Myth of Modernism' 

appreciate diversity, our government has mandated equal opportunity in the u A ■ ^ w t + /, f •„ rr 

, - . . . /\YL important ICISk fQClflQ 

environment. An important task racing designers today is to create eloquent r J 

architectural language which can give expression to the range of human designers today is to Cre- 


ate eloquent architectural 

Lyn Norris-Baker, the UDEP grant recipient who had planned to imple- language which can give 

ment the proposal, reflects on her modified role and the outcome of the (yrftrpssirm tn th f 

project: " & J 

human needs. " 

This studio was my first attempt to teach universal design "indirectly" by 
working with another faculty to integrate universal design issues into existing prob- 
lem statements. As a resource person/visiting critic, I worked primarily behind the 
scenes, with only periodic interactions with the students in the studio. The selection 
of a first year studio including students studying for careers in a variety of design 
disciplines allowed us to introduce universal design concepts at a formative stage in 
students' philosophies of design, which both Madlen and I felt was important. If 
these concepts are introduced later in students' programs of study, their design 
philosophies and approaches to problem solving have become more established. 

The existing curriculum shaped the idea of a "re-thinking, re-design " approach, 
although it would probably not have been my first choice had I been structuring the 
studio problem myself. It was more successful than I initially hoped, because allow- 
ing students to design first "for themselves" highlighted the kinds of preconceptions 
they brought to the design process. This concept was developed further when they 
reconsidered their pavilion designs that had been created using a fragment of a 
Modern house, representing a movement that focused on idealized human needs, 
rather than the diversity that exists in reality. Thus many students confronted their 
own and other architects' less-than-universal design approaches. The re-thinking/ 
re-designing aspects of the studio also provided great opportunities to teach them 
about the nonlinear nature of the design process. In retrospect, more time was 
needed to encourage students to really reconsider their responses, and not simply to 
adapt them using a retrofit approach. 

The visit by the advisor, Paul Grayson, was a great asset to the studio in terms of 
engaging students in talking about universal design and presenting them with 
excellent exemplars. Our students have a strong interest in Japanese architecture 
(fostered by a summer studio opportunity as well as lecturers), which enhanced the 
students' responses to Paul Grayson s presentation. The participation of the user 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 39 

Chapter 7: Kansas State University 

groups in reviews and the experiences of disability made an impact on the students, 
hut being able to have more continuity in these experiences would have made an 
even stronger statement. It also was clear that just discussing universal design 
issues and having the diverse user group review the chair project was not as power- 
ful as having to deconstruct and redesign a project. It will he important to contin- 
ue the emphasis and reinforcement of universal design concepts with these students 
throughout the remainder of the curriculum. 


Students completed pre-test and post-test questionnaires prepared by the UDEP 
sponsors. Of the resources used in the course, students found the consultants and 
the simulation exercise most useful to their understanding of universal design. 

Many of the students, as evidenced by their evaluation comments, found that the 
course had changed the way they view the built environment. 

/ now understand that universal design does not mean designing for the handi- 
capped. It is designing for the convenience of everyone. 

Now that I am aware of the different aspects of universal design I will always look 
to incorporate them into my design projects. 

Universal design is for all people, not just the handicapped, and it can be integrat- 
ed in the design with few changes to the intentions of the design. 

As an architect, I need to be constantly aware of the entire public and respect 
everyone's abilities, and not discriminate either consciously or unconsciously. 

I now look at designs of everything in a very different way, one that looks at all 


Louisiana State University — Baton Rouge, LA 

Department of Interior Design 



Raising Awareness Through a Universal Design Symposium 


Louisiana State University's proposal for its involvement in UDEP was to develop 
and teach a four-part workshop that would expose students to universal design issues 
through interventions occurring over the course of a semester. Due to limited fund- 
ing, the proposal was condensed into a single symposium. Initially, the topic of the 
symposium was to be the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines 
(ADAAG). After the UDEP colloquium in Raleigh, NC, the topic of the symposium 
was expanded from code compliance to the value of universal design. 

Faculty coordinator 

Nikki Joan Spencer 
Associate Professor 


The twelve-hour symposium was held during the first week of studio sessions in 
spring semester 1994 and was attended by over one hundred interior design students 
and faculty from LSU, as well as a number of local and regional design professionals. 

The symposium's stated objectives were: 

• Raise awareness among participants of the impact of design decisions across 
the lifespan. 

• Build a vocabulary and conversancy with universal design issues as well as an 
attitude directed toward positive change. 

• Develop a process of design response incorporating issues inherent in univer- 
sal design. 


The first two sessions of the symposium were primarily informational and experi- 
ential. UDEP Advisor James Mueller opened with a keynote address and exercises for 
the audience that introduced the concept of universal design and demonstrated the 
validity of universally designed solutions. During his presentation, students began to 
internalize the challenges and identify usable solutions in the designed environment. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design A I 

Chapter 8: Louisiana State University 

Participants' were encouraged to expand their definition of potential users of design to 
include people with a variety of impairments. 

/ realized that many different types of people can be associated with (but not 
defined by) the term handicapped.. .not just those who use a wheelchair. I realized 
that I have people with disabilities in my family and that I am disabled, too, by the 
environment, based on the broadened definition of universal design. (LSU Interior 
Design student) 

The second session provided an orientation to and explanation of Title III of the 
ADA and ADAAG. During this session participants began to understand the legal 
requirements for compliance. 

Student participants at the 
design charrette. 

Through discussion and expansion of material presented in the first ses- 
sion, participants were challenged to move beyond the restrictive attitude of 
simply "meeting code" to the potential for designing across the lifespan. 
Students' reflections at this point indicated the beginning of a paradigm 
shift — moving the problem from "them" to "us," away from "it's someone 
else's problem" to "what can I do as a designer?" 

Environmental obstacles are not only challenges for someone with an 
impairment but for everyone. We as designers have created barriers in the 
built environment, now we should use good design to remove them... success- 
ful designs should work well for everyone! (LSU Interior Design Student) 

The third and final session of the symposium consisted of a design char- 
rette in which teams analyzed real-life situations, synthesized their findings, 
and developed design responses that reflected universal design issues. 
Student teams conducted on-site interviews with several building users who 
have physical and visual impairments. Working in conjunction with student 
consultants each team was asked to document existing concerns and devel- 
op a proposal for change. In addition to learning from the consultants with 
impairments, students had an opportunity to simulate a number of mobility, 
strength, visual, and auditory limitations during the course of the site survey. 

Expectations were realized when the students' proposals went beyond 
code compliance and responded to the challenge of universal design. The 
participants were very positive about the charrette experience. Mental, 
physical, and emotional engagement and relating their observations and suggestions 
to a consultant for validation were important experiences that reinforced the reality 
and importance of the universal design concept. 


'Raising Awareness Through a Universal Design Symposium' 

Y*#AV<— '• 

Student's sketch of proposal 
for change at the entrance 
to Allen Hall. 

During the 'simulation' I realized that Allen Hall could not accommodate and sup- 
port the activities of anybody... but especially people with disabilities. There were 
design flaws and obstacles for every user. The charrette exercise made a difference in 
the way I approach a design solution... incorporating concern for all users into my pro- 
posals for change. (LSU Interior Design student) 


The impact of the symposium was visible over the course of the semester. Design 
responses in studio projects reflected increased student awareness and an understand- 
ing of universal design issues. In addition to results of pre- and post- symposium 
questionnaires, journal entries were monitored in several studio courses for reference 
to the symposium's effect on design projects. Project evaluations at mid-semester and 
final reviews were informally monitored for universal design content. 

Based on the evaluation of semester project outcomes and verbal presentations, 
each of the symposium's objectives was realized to some degree: vocabulary, aware- 
ness of universal design as an issue, and its consideration as an integral pan of the 
design process. The ongoing challenge is to continue emphasizing the concept that 
"good design is universal design" in studio solutions. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 8: Louisiana State University 

The assignment of an experienced advisor, access to vocal advocates, availability 
of a variety of audio-visual materials, and a sense of "mission" were essential compo- 
nents to organizing and implementing the symposium. 


Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology — Cambridge, MA 

Department of Architecture 

"The Bridge to Universal Design 



MIT's proposal began with a description of the entrance to the institution. This 
served both to highlight the importance of reaching students who live and work in 
this environment and to introduce the mechanism through which the project would 

Team members: 

Leonard Morse-Fortier 
Assistant Professor of 
Building Technology 

Wellington Reiter 
Assistant Professor of 

MIT's front door is the entrance at 77 Massachusetts Avenue. Entering the build- 
ing first requires ascending a long flight of stairs — a climb that is physically demand- 
ing, and no doubt quickens the pulse and increases one's blood flow. One arrives in 
the lobby of Building 7: the size of the lobby, the amount and quality of the light 
within, and especially the reverberation of the large space are all physical aspects of 
the experience of entry — an experience intensified by the exertion of the climb. 
While the experience of entering this building will have different effects on different 
people, the building and its entry seem to take themselves quite seriously, and the 
person who has made the climb and walked through the doors will have little doubt 
that this is an important place. Just as this passage is an important feature of the 
building's architecture, it is one that is changed or denied to anyone who cannot 
make the ascent, or whose sensory perception is different. 

Len Morse-Fortier has a daughter with Down's syndrome. His personal experi- 
ences motivated him several years ago to include an exercise on accessibility in his 
Introduction to Building Technology course. The exercise asked students to spend 
three hours in a wheelchair, making their usual MIT journeys. Although cast as a 
technical exercise, the instructor expected students to acquire more than simply a 
practical understanding of technical issues. They did. In addition to the assigned 
observations about ramp slopes, handrails, curb cuts, and sight lines, students com- 
mented at greater length and with deeper feeling about the emotional aspects of their 
experience — expressing feelings of vulnerability 5 , dependence, and exclusion. 

Morse-Fonier and Reiter proposed to increase the number of students being 
exposed to universal design by introducing students in the Level I studio, both under- 
graduates and graduate students, to the physical and physiological aspects of architec- 
tural experience through experiential exercises and analyses of place experiences. 
Two day-long faculty workshops were proposed to give the Level I faculty opportuni- 
ties to confront the issues and develop appropriate strategies for engaging the 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

illustration forthcoming 


The first project in the Level I Studio, titled "Axis and Access," was executed in the 
Spring semester, 1993. Students were asked to consider the architectural image most 
frequently associated with the campus of MIT, the imposing Beaux Arts portico at 77 
Massachusetts Avenue. The passage through this temple-like facade represents "entry" 
into MIT at both the practical and ceremonial level. Yet for some in the MIT commu- 
nity, the ritual of mounting the stairs, weaving in-between the huge columns, and 
passing through the brass doors is impossible, witnessed only second-hand. Students 
were asked to provide an architectural response that acknowledges the entire commu- 
nity of users. 

Students were asked to address the following questions: 

• Is an MIT experience minus the daily passage through the primary threshold 
of the campus necessarily less than, equal to, or possibly greater than the 
same set of circumstances with access? Why? 

• Could you quantify in detail all of the sensory components that constitute the 
process of entry into this or any building? Based on what experience? 


"The Bridge to Universal Design* 

• What are the metaphoric and symbolic aspects of entry? What is a threshold? 
A door? 

The answers to these questions have ramifications not only for people with dis- 
abilities but for architecture itself. Frequently lost in the stylistic or theoretical discus- 
sion of contemporary architecture is the bald fact of its existence and our daily interac- 
tions with it. 

Students were also asked to reflect on whether the typical stair/ramp duality is an 
architectural necessity or an ad hoc response to societal (and now governmental) 
demands for equal accessibility. Are there other possibilities that would diffuse the 
idea of two discrete paths? Is only one route a worthwhile objective? Should this 
issue be played out on the primary facades of public buildings where many other 
concerns are also competing for attention? 

Following the UDEP colloquium, we made plans to integrate the topic of univer- 
sal design into MIT's Level I studio in the 1993 fall semester. As Reiter was coordinat- 
ing the studio for the fall semester, it seemed logical to include universal design as the 
unifying theme. Unfortunately, changes in faculty responsibilities combined with 
some faculty resistance made the universal design theme impossible. In one case, a 
faculty member had already developed the studio problem around a different theme. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 47 

Chapter 9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

and in another case, the faculty member refused outright to weigh accessibility as 
more important than any other "practical" concern, and commented that all such con- 
straints were inconsistent with the pedagogical aims of that particular studio. 

We developed a new proposal to offer a special exploratory course over MITs 
Independent Activities Period in January 1994. We proposed a four-week, intensive 
course in which students would revisit their fall-semester studio project with an eye 
toward identifying barriers and their causes. In part, the course description read: 

This course is not a clinic on how to adapt a building design to meet the require- 
ments of the ADA. It is a design studio that explores the issues of access and inclu- 
sion and introduces the principles of universal design into the design process. The 
ideal outcome is not a building design that can be adapted to meet the ADA, but 
one that so fully includes and accommodates individuals of all abilities that it 
needs no adaptation at all. 

No one signed up for the course. Many architecture students use the IAP to serve 
unpaid internships in local firms, an investment towards securing future employment. 
Nevertheless, we were disappointed. 

We persisted for one more semester. In spring 1994, Reiter taught a studio on 
"The Inhabited Bridge." This project explored a unique urban circumstance, the 
design of a new bridge over the Seine in Paris connecting the new colossal 
Bibliotheque de France and the opposite bank which features Frank Gehry's just 
completed American Center plus a vast contemporary park now under construction. 
A bridge at this location is a virtual certainty, a great deal of attention is being paid to 
the idea, and the studio had the potential to play a role in shaping the definition of 
the program. As the need for the bridge is born as much from ceremony as necessi- 
ty, the bridge is more than just a simple crossing. 

As part of the development of the project, we invited consultant Larry Braman, an 
architect who uses a wheelchair, to spend an afternoon in the studio. He shared with 
students his ideas about architecture, access, and circulation. Unfortunately, he was 
unable to be present for final jury review of the projects. From the final review, three 
projects were selected for further development. This development will take the form 
of streamlining presentation graphics, providing high quality reproductions, and sup- 
porting the inclusion of the projects in the final exhibition of competition entries at 
the Pompidou Centre. 


"The Bridge to Universal Design 1 


The initial project dealt with the classical design of the entrance to MIT. As back- 
ground for dealing with the implications of this problem, the students were asked to 
attend a roundtable discussion with a variety of members of the MIT community for 
whom these issues are a fact of everyday life. The visiting panel of consultants was a 
particularly effective component: Gail, who has a sight impairment and a guide dog 
named Laura; Paul, who is blind and uses a cane to navigate; and Scott, who uses an 
electric wheelchair. Each panelist discussed buildings and access, confusion and clari- 
ty. Paul commented that he loved architecture, that several of his friends are design- 
ers, and that he welcomes the opportunity to discover the "idea" of a building. Scott, 
talked about the issue of access and dignity, and told a story about taking his girl- 
friend out to dinner. The students empathized with the feeling of trying to impress 
someone when the restaurant has to let you in through the kitchen. Gail joked about 
training Laura to find attractive men. C>verall, the consultants came across as people 
first; their disabilities and the effect of these on their daily lives emerged through their 
stories. Because the consultants were assembled and seated before the students 
arrived, the students did not actually see how these particular folks get around until 
after the discussion. 

This experience with the consultants was overwhelming for many students. We 
were surprised by the anger that they expressed. The anger seemed to stem from a 
frustration that the built environment could be so cruel, but also from self-criticism: as 
design students, they were frustrated by their own lack of awareness. The level of 
emotional engagement suggested that the students would be likely to incorporate the 
principles of universal design in their design work. However, the effects of this expe- 
rience seemed to wear off rather quickly. 

Over the course of the studio, students became very interested in the experiential 
aspects of access. In response, we revised the requirements to exclude the proposal 
of a built "solution." Instead, students were instructed to focus on the experiential 
aspects of access, and to present their conclusions in any medium. Consequently, the 
products of the experience included pamphlets, recordings, drawings, and essays. A 
sampling of the written and graphic work is included here. One presentation includ- 
ed a recording of the background sounds together with a narrative of the journey 
from the student center across the street, up the stairs and into the building. Other, 
irreproducible work included a percussion piece reflecting the intensity of the experi- 
ence. Overall, student work was creative and diverse. Nevertheless, the exercise was 
separate from the mainstream of studio design, and seemed marginalized. 

Fully one year later, we incorporated the ideas of universal access into the main- 
stream of a design studio and the results were much more gratifying, but paradoxical 
as well. The program of the "Inhabited Bridge" was a museum for the 21st century. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 49 

Chapter 9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Wi tl 

The project required a synthesis of engineering, urban design, public 
space, and museology. A detailed basswood model of the site was created 
by the class and a high level of presentation quality was established as a 
result. All reviews were conducted in a juried format and were almost 
exclusively made-up of outside visitors. The pace was brisk, the criticism 
pointed, and the atmosphere in the studio was very positive. Student work 
included drawings and models at various scales and degrees of architectural 
resolution. Collectively, these models reveal the paradox alluded to above, 
and reflected upon below. 


For our initial exercise on "Axis and Access," the results were gratifying, 
but the subject became marginalized. Although universal access had been 
addressed within the studio, it was isolated from the mainstream studio 
design work. The students were sensitized and enthusiastic, but the prob- 
lem was too sharply focused and, therefore, marginalized. A full year later, 
in search of a better way to introduce the subject into the studio, we were 
much more successful. A graduate level studio engaged the topic of uni- 
versal design through a semester-long project, designing an inhabited 
bridge. Although not explicitly directed at the issue of accessibility or the 
ADA, this design problem lent itself to discussions of universal design by 
virtue of its site, building type (a pedestrian bridge), and focus on the idea 
of public space. Although this approach was in direct contrast to the inves- 
tigation of accessibility from the previous year, we chose it purposely. 

In the course of developing the Inhabited Bridge studio, we felt that to 
segregate the issue of accessibility from the general design problem would 
marginalize the issue and miscast opportunities as burdens. Therefore, the 
subject of accessibility was woven into the list of concerns along with many 
others with which the students were required to grapple. One of a number 
of guest critics, consultant Larry Braman provided architectural criticism 
inextricably coupled with his unique perspective on access. As a direct 
result of our attempts at seamless integration, the evidence of the studio 
(models and drawings) may look suspiciously disinterested in the specifics 
of accessibility. The work looks very much like the production that one 
would normally expect from such a program and site. What this points out, in our 
opinion, is the limitation of the media and not the seriousness with which the stu- 
dents concerned themselves with the issue. Upon first glance, and without the bene- 
fit of the give-and-take that was the daily hallmark of the studio, it may be hard to 
decipher the works as being particularly attentive to the concerns of people with dis- 


'The Bridge to Universal Design" 

First, of course, these projects were not developed to a level of detail that could 
engage accessibility on an ergonomic level except in terms of access for wheeled 
vehicles. Because of its public nature and scale, however, together with the possibili- 
ty of wheelchairs, the project admits strollers, roller-blades, and luggage dollies (train 
stations on either side of the river provide one excuse for making the crossing). As 
the designs are further scrutinized, it may be possible to see that attempts to create a 
fluid connection across the River Seine revealed themselves in the actual pedestrian 
avenues, the various sight lines, and the formal expression of connection. In many 
cases, the grade changes on either bank were handled with great ingenuity such that 
an unimpeded, or even better, an inviting threshold was created without distinction 
for shoes or wheels. This occurred, we believe, because the emphasis of the studio 
was on the nature of the public realm and concerns of inclusion of all types of peo- 
ple — both visitors and residents, economically privileged and homeless, able-bodied 
and less so. 

Our efforts in this studio were successful. However, that success must find its way 
into the culture of our school, and this will not be so easy to accomplish. Our exer- 
cise last year reached fifty students. In the recent studio, there were nine students. 
We hope that the visibility of the projects will enhance their reputation with the rest of 
the students, and we plan to meet with the entire studio faculty to discuss how uni- 
versal design principles can be more fully included in the curriculum. 

In closing, the following ruminations by Morse-Fortier emerged while grappling 
with the difficulties of integrating universal design into design teaching: 

Most design studios do not develop projects beyond basic massing and formal issues, 
so the ergonomic issues of accessibility are largely irrelevant. Counter heights, door 
hardware, and the finer aspects of universal design are meaningless at that scale. 
In the typical architectural design studio, the only apparent accessibility issue 
involves wheelchair access and stairs. By not acknowledging the large population 
who have reduced ability, the issue of accessibility becomes marginalized. The 
number ofpersom in wheelchairs seems small, and the perceived importance of 
accessibility is weighed against the risks of breaking with architectural tradition. 
Tradition usually takes precedence. 

Building placement, level change, vertical separation, and even stairs themselves 
are important componerzts of architecture that also pose potential barriers to acces- 
sibility. It is hard to imagine the US Capitol Building without its front stairs, or on a 
smaller scale, AITTs entrance to Building 7 without its own ceremonial threshold 
flight. These formal features appear to clash head on uith the formal implications 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 51 

Chapter 9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

of accessibility, and so it is understandable that the discourse on design considers 
the argument for accessibility to be intrusive. 

Presently, the architectural palette includes level change as a tool for delimiting 
space. Unlike ceiling level shifts, color, texture, or even lateral shifts and partial 
walls, stairs and the level changes they announce read clearly in plan. Student 
designers are trained to develop their proposals in plan, and plans are submitted 
for design competitions and for presentations to clients. Attempts at describing 
architecture in experiential terms often fail when considering a proposal for 
unbuilt architecture. Our ability to "experience" the proposal depends upon our 
ability to infer from its plans something of the experience it promises. If that experi- 
ence relies on moves outside of our traditions, or outside of what plans can convey, 
then we are unable to "see" them, and the building proposal is likely to be judged a 

When the ADA became law, like so many other laws, it was placed in the category 
of difficult real issues that may interfere with the design studio pedagogy. 
Structural considerations and energy issues have traditionally been accommodated 
by designers after the fact, considered to be unimportant to basic design or aesthet- 
ics. Accessibility, too, has been left until the end. Design proposals are reviewed as 
they approach their final refinements. If accessibility issues are introduced, they 
require a de-facto renovation or retrofit of the proposed scheme. By postponing dis- 
cussion of accessibility until the final stages of design development, the barriers are 
embedded in the fundamental objectives of the design, and the introduction of a 
new value — accessible design — threatens the design proposal. Clearly, it is impor- 
tant to understand how barriers are introduced to be able to address accessibility 
at the earliest stages of design. 


Miami University — Oxford, OH 

Interior Design Department 



Infusing an Interior Design Program with Universal Design 


We proposed to infuse our program with the concept of universal design by 
implementing two different strategies. First, we would specifically incorporate univer- 
sal design into studios and courses at every level of the program. All students in the 
program would be exposed to universal design by the end of the academic year and 
would re-encounter the concept in at least one course in subsequent years. 

Team members: 

Barbara Flannery 
Assistant Professor 

Ken Special 
Assistant Professor 

Roberta Null 
Associate Professor 

Second, we proposed reaching across academic levels, disciplines, and campuses 
by hosting a one-day universal design conference and one-day design charrette, and 
by creating a universal design resource library for students. 

Our teaching objectives were twofold: 

• To increase students' sensitivity to the "whole person," an approach to age- 
span and disability issues that gives equal consideration to social, psycho- 
logical, and physical factors; and 

• To make students aware of the full range of disabilities covered by the 
American' with Disabilities Act, including mental, cognitive, and physical, and 
of the individual variability within a given disability. 

Our notion was that these strategies would break down students' stereotypes 
through access to information, repeated exposure to issues, and opportunities for 
application in design. This approach is consistent with the concept of repetition, con- 
tinuity, and progression set forth by the Foundation for Interior Design Education 
Research (FIDER), the accrediting body for interior design programs. 


Six courses — five studios and one lecture course — were modified to include uni- 
versal design issues. First-year students were introduced to the "whole person" 
approach to design in the introductory studio. Sophomores, who already have a 
required lecture course on design and human behavior that includes units on cultural 
diversity, the elderly, and the ADA, explored application of universal design through a 
class project. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 10: Miami University 

Universal design was also incorporated into the junior and senior studios with 
progressively higher expectations for understanding and application. Projects at the 
upper division included designing recreational vehicles and a recreational community 
for people of differing abilities and across the life-span; designing a retail space which 
conformed to the ADA; and a futuristic project that looked at both present and future 
technological advancements affecting design. In a multi-story design project at the 
senior level, one of the partners in the client firm was a wheelchair user. 

During fall semester we also hosted a one-day conference on universal design fol- 
lowed by a one-day charrette incorporating universal design into the redesign of a 
university-owned conference center that was inaccessible. 

Our objectives for these two events included the following: 

• Involve students and faculty from several schools, representing a variety of 

• Include many users with different perspectives. 

• Have multiple perspectives represented by national and regional speakers at 
the conference. 

• Encourage students to apply their knowledge of universal design to a real 
design problem that included interior design, architecture, landscape architec- 
ture, and product design components. 

• Stress the value of interdisciplinary approaches to universal design concepts, 
including access to a broader range of specialties and areas of expertise, 
access to a broader range of user needs through involvement of users, and 
the creation of better design solutions. 

We involved potential participants, including faculty, users groups, and students, 
early in the planning process, which seemed to increase their investment and interest 
in the project. We found that they, in turn, recruited others to take part. Involving 
users in the project was an important objective for our project. We contacted on-cam- 
pus student disability organizations and, as a starting point for community-wide user 
groups, a local organization, Independent Living Options, in Cincinnati. 


"Infusing an Interior Design Program with Universal Design' 

In deciding where to hold these events we had to accommodate the activities as 
well as to assure accessibility. We had two very different activities to accommodate — a 
conference and a charrette. We needed auditorium seating with enhanced sightlines 
for our mini-conference and a classroom with movable tables and chairs, well- 
equipped with media (rear screen multiple projection, sound amplification, VCRs, etc.) 
for the charrette. Access to the building from parking areas had to be considered so 
that equipment and individuals could easily enter and special parking permits could 
be obtained, if needed. 

We debated whether to hold our charrette activity at the site of the subject space — 
a university-owned log cabin used for retreats and small conferences. Because the 
space was off-campus (posing transportation problems), small in size, and inaccessible 
(which is why we selected it for the subject of our charrette design process), we 
decided that it was not an appropriate location for the charrette. Because the space 
was inaccessible, we also decided not to conduct a site visit that would exclude some 
people. Instead, we took slides and photographs and made a detailed videotape of 
the space. These materials, as well as building plans, were available to participants 
during the charrette. 

We selected three national speakers for the mini-conference 
based on their expertise and the balance they would bring to the 
program. They included Roben Anders (our UDEP advisor) of Pratt 
Institute, Joe Meade of the USDA Forest Service, and Eleanor Smith 
of Concrete Change in Atlanta. We used regional speakers to fill out 
the program and provide additional perspectives in various areas of 
universal design. Most speakers also served as facilitators or judges 
during the charrette. 

All participants received an information packet including: city 
and campus maps, an agenda of activities, participation certificate, 
evaluation forms, information about Miami University, handouts 
provided by speakers, a bibliography of universal design resources, and Title II and 
Title III highlights. We carefully considered how many universal design resources to 
include, and decided to be selective. Our criterion was to include things that were 
easy to read and directly usable for the charrette. For example, we did not include 
the complete version of Title II in the packet; instead we selected a summary article 
which charrette participants could understand more quickly. 


This unh-ersity-ouned 
retreat and conference 
facility was the focus for a 
one-day design charrette. 

Coordinating communication at an event for one hundred people involves every- 
thing from signs to audio-visual needs to sign language interpreters. We took commu- 
nication a little further. At the beginning of each day we presented an overhead of 
that day's agenda. At the registration table, we had a large map showing the schools 

Strategies for Teaching I niversal A 


Chapter 10: Miami University 

in attendance to enhance communication between participants from various universi- 
ties. In the lobby we set up a browsing table with universal design literature. 

Universal design literature 
was available for browsing 
by conference participants. 

Our goals in marketing were to maximize diversity in participants 
encourage representation from a variety of schools, let potential participants 
know about the quality of the planned events, and focus on activities that 
would be both fun, educational, and result in successful universal design 
solutions. We aggressively marketed the events well in advance using a 
variety of techniques with a variety of potential audiences. 

We marketed to our own students by involving them in the planning 
process and by encouraging early commitments from them to participate. 
An upper division student from our interior design program went into all 
studio classes to talk about the events, ensuring that all majors would know 
about the events. We found that having an enthusiastic student promote 
the events was an excellent complement to faculty efforts and increased stu- 
dent participation. We also tied into presentations by universal design speakers at the 
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Student Chapter meeting one week 
before the events to foster interest in and momentum for the universal design confer- 
ence and chanette. 

We also marketed to colleagues and students in other disciplines at the university 
by preparing a brief written announcement and invitation for students that focused on 
the events' appeal for nondesigners. We developed a poster promoting the event and 
got permission to post it across the campus; we contacted the university news bureau 
to cover our events and to write a description for publicity; and we put both a pre- 
event announcement and post-event story in the student newspaper. 

Attracting a broad group of people from outside the university was very impor- 
tant. We contacted area disability organizations to invite members and to encourage 
participation. We were quite successful in this regard, and the several users at the 
events who served as resource people proved to be a strong point in participant eval- 
uations. We marketed to non-student design groups by sending large mailings to 
members of the regional professional ASID chapter and to all interior design alumni 
within a 100 mile radius. We marketed to other schools in a multi-state region using 
personalized posters for each school and establishing a contact person at each school. 
We found that it was very important to have repeated contact with the participating 

We actively sought sponsors and donations to meet our budget. Herman Miller 
donated universal design templates (which also made students aware that these items 


Infusing an Interior Design Program with Universal Design** 

are available) and Knoll donated architect scales. We also got sponsors for awards, 
including Miami University T-shirts, drink squeeze bottles, and monetary awards. 


Curriculum Enhancements. Students in four courses during fall semester were 
engaged in learning about universal design. Because we wanted to expose students 
to universal design principles in a direct way early in the program, we introduced sev- 
eral activities in the Design and Human Behavior course at the sophomore level. 
Students completed two questionnaires on universal design and persons with disabili- 
ties, drew themselves with a disability encountering a barrier, and assessed two envi- 
ronments for accessibility from a whole-person needs approach. Three weeks of lec- 
tures were devoted to disability and lifespan issues. 

Many students, when asked about what they would consider to be disabilities, 
were able to list a wide range across all categories: sight, hearing, cognitive, and 
mobility. They did not, however, reflect that breadth of knowledge in the in-class 
assignment to draw themselves with a disability confronting an environmental barrier. 
Sixty-four of eighty-six drawings (74%) showed a person in a wheelchair, and 
the most common barrier was steps. Time was spent in class dis- 
cussing the range of disabilities beyond mobility impairments. One 
reason for the heavy use of the wheelchair image may be the pre- 
dominance of the wheelchair icon as a symbol of disability on sig- 

The project assessing the campus and community buildings 
for appropriateness of use by people with a variety of disabili- 
ties increased student awareness and was a useful precursor 
to students' projects in the upper division courses. 

Studio courses at the first year and upper division lev- 
els focused on the specifics of the ADA, the technical and 
graphic considerations of universal design, and a job site visit to inter- 
view a university employee with a disability to receive first-hand infor- 
mation on interior design issues. Through these experiences, students 
were exposed to situations which many had not. up to this point, given 
much consideration. The final presentations of design studio projects, 
on the whole, reflected a marked increase in student awareness of the 
importance of universal design — both in their drawings and their 

Students 'portrayals of 
themselves with disabilities 
encountering barriers. 

Strategies for Teaching I nuersal Design 


Chapter 10: Miami University 

Conference and Charrette. For a 48-hour period in November, 1993, in 
Oxford, Ohio, over 100 people came together to explore universal design. Participants 
included students, design practitioners, and persons with disabilities who served as 
consultants. Students attended from eight schools in the region. During the charrette, 
on the second day of the conference, each of ten teams produced a design solution 
to the charrette problem. Each team included students and at least one facilitator. 
Consultants served as facilitators to the teams and as floating advisors, moving from 
team to team to provide resources. This "floater" approach allowed each team 
greater access to people with a range of disabilities. The mini-conference and char- 
rette sparked a great deal of discussion, particularly at the closing session of the char- 
rette. New perceptions, awareness, and surprise at the depth of design considerations 
for universal design were topics of discussion. 

The charrette design teams had a mix of academic levels (first-year, sophomore, 
junior, and senior), majors (design and non-design), and schools. Each team decided 
how to present its work, with the caveat that students rather than facilitators should 
make the actual presentation. 

Facilitators' assistance to the design teams varied according to the individual's 
style and personality. Some fully participated in the development of the design solu- 
tion: others served as resources only. One vocal facilitator presented the group's 
work despite the explicit instructions. 


"Infusing an Interior Design Program with Universal Design' 

We developed evaluation criteria against which design solutions were 
to be judged and gave them to the design teams at the beginning of the 
chanette. The judges fine-tuned these criteria and allocated points to each 

According to the judges, the uniqueness of the winning team's design 
solution was, in part, in the introduction to their design. The team focused 
on the design concept, including a description of the feeling and atmos- 
phere of the space they created. By giving considerable detail to the solu- 
tion in the form of detail drawings, a floor plan, and a site plan, the team 
greatly enhanced the judges' understanding of its design intent. 

We documented the event for publicity and grant purposes. We used a 
combination of techniques including videotaping the entire mini-conference 
and selected portions of the charrette as well as taking slides and pho- 
tographs of both events. To facilitate later display, each team mounted its 
work on two foamcore boards. Having participants complete evaluations 
was also part of our documentation. Since our event was two days long 
and some participants attended only one day, we color coded pre-test and 
post-test evaluations to allow us to easily separate them and to minimize 
participant confusion. We felt that it was important to acknowledge all 
event participants, and not just teams that won awards. Certificates of par- 
ticipation were given to all attendees. 


The approach of infusing universal design concepts across the curricu- 
lum is one we feel was successful and we will continue. Because we 
talked about universal design in a positive and frequent way, student enthu- 
siasm for the design conference and charrette was increased. We feel that 
many students have embraced the concepts of universal design wholeheart- 
edly, seeing universal design as an important and creative challenge. They 
will continue to do so as practitioners in the future. 

We learned a great deal from hosting two back-to-back events. Our 
experience and insights are presented in a separate paper on organizing 
design events to teach universal design. 

The inclusion of consultants on the design teams in the charrette was 
invaluable. They added a dimension that was both necessary and appreci- 

Charrette team at work. 


*$ ft 

.— - T *+* 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 59 

Chapter 10: Miami University 

ated by the students who participated. We cannot imagine running such an event 
without the consultants and intend to include more consultants in studio projects in 
courses in the future. 

In the future we would assign a student/staff person liaison to each speaker. We 
felt that the conference would have proceeded more smoothly if a single person had 
been assigned to take care of each speaker's needs, including confirming audio-visual 
requirements and travel anangements. Although staff-intensive, having personal assis- 
tants for each speaker would avoid miscommunications and oversights. 

Securing the services of a sign language interpreter should have been 
done well in advance of the event. Since we had not used a sign language 
interpreter before, there were several surprises for us in the process. It 
seemed logical that access for participants who are hearing impaired would 
be provided through university resources in the same vein that physical 
access is provided. We found out after budget planning that we would be 
responsible for the cost of the interpreter. In the end, our division con- 
tributed to the cost on a one-time only basis. 

Because the event was long, more than one interpreter was needed. 
Interpreting is intensive work and interpreters need to take breaks. We 
were fortunate to have a gracious interpreter who carried on despite the 
lack of backup. We also learned that lighting the interpreter is critical dur- 
ing slides and other audio-visual presentations where room lighting is dimmed. By 
providing the interpreter with an agenda and description of media, she would have 
been able to identify unique requirements. 

Making a parking plan well in advance is critical. Ground transportation became 
a serious problem because of the lack of accommodation by the university and the 
design of newer model cars. We were surprised to learn that lift-equipped university 
vans could not be used for a university event. They were available only to Miami 
University students for the purpose of attending classes. Even though they would not 
be in use at the time we needed them, we were unable to make special anange- 
ments for our event. One speaker who used a wheelchair could get into a large two 
door car with a bench seat because of the wider door openings and seat configura- 
tion. However, there are no two door cars in our university motor pool, nor were 
any available at local rental agencies. 


Infusing an Interior Design Program with Universal Design 1 


While pre-test and post-test data were collected for the design conference and 
charrette, different evaluators were used in the various classes. Questionnaire results 
from classes indicated that students were aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act 
and had differing levels of understanding of universal design. We administered one 
questionnaire with a series of True-False questions (N=134) and concluded that the 
instrument was not particularly useful in assessing student knowledge. An open- 
ended questionnaire (N=98) that we developed was more informative because we 
were able to see that there was a great deal of variation in student knowledge and 
interpretation of issues of universal design. Our questions included: 

• Have you heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act? If so, what do you 
know about it? 

• What conditions are considered to be disabilities? How many people with dis- 
abilities are there in the United States? 

• List five of what you would consider to be the most important goals for 
designing for people with disabilities? 

• What specific design criteria do you already know about for designing for peo- 
ple with disabilities? 


What is universal design? 


• What are the goals of universal design? 

At the conference and chanette we were concerned about getting all participants 
to fill out evaluation forms. We stressed their purpose and importance several times 
throughout the events and still had a relatively low response rate. Our numeric evalu- 
ation results were based on asking participants to evaluate the two days on a five- 
point scale, with zero indicating "poor" and four indicating "excellent." The mean 
score for the mini-conference was 3.6, with twenty participants responding. The mean 
score for the charrette was also 3-6, with thirty-four participants responding. In spite 
of low response rates, we feel confident that both days were successful. The few neg- 
ative comments primarily focused on time issues, such as starting on time and allow- 
ing more time for team interaction and the presentations at the charrette. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 6 1 

Chapter 1 0: Miami University 

In the written evaluation, two things were consistently rated as positive by the 
participants. The first was the quality of the speakers. All three national speakers 
were extremely well-received, with participants commenting on what they learned, 
the excellent presentation styles, and the beneficial use of visual material. The sec- 
ond consistent comment was the success of including people with disabilities as 
speakers, resource people, facilitators, and judges. Many participants commented on 
how much they learned, how helpful it was, and that it was enjoyable. 

The following comments, in many cases reflecting the views of several partici- 
pants, are drawn from the open-ended questions on the event evaluation forms. 

This should be required of all design students. It's a great way of making people 
aware. I hardly knew anything about ADA until yesterday. It has totally changed 
my outlook about design, in a positive way. 

The best part of the charrette was the opportunity to work with students from other 
institutions, with physically challenged persons, and other professionals. 

Even though this is a conference type experience, the reality of "stress" was still pre- 
sent. This time, it was positive stress/ 

The best part of the mini-conference was being able to work with different people 
and get input from different professionals, the subtleties that you usually don't 
think about, and becoming more aware. 

I got to learn lots of stuff from many different people. I got a chance to interact 
with students from other schools and see how they do things. I learned so much 
about universal design — we are exposed to it at school but only briefly and in a 
limited amount. 

Keep doing things like this. It gets info out to students. There is so much I learned 
this weekend! 

After several months of post-event reflection, we continue to believe that this 
event was significant in its impact on participants — students, professors, professional 
designers, and user groups. 


Michigan State University — East Lansing, Ml 

Department of Human Environment and Design 



Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum 


In Michigan State University's FIDER-accredited four-year interior design curricu- 
lum, barrier-free design has been a component of courses since long before the adop- 
tion of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the 1992-93 academic year, in 
response to this Act, guest speakers were brought into many of the courses to help 
students identify the differences in the new requirements and the impact on design 
practice. In 1993-94, the faculty wanted students to move beyond code requirements 
and embrace the larger concept of universal design. The Universal Design Education 
Project (UDEP) at Michigan State University focused on expanding existing curricular 
and course content related to teaching universal design to specifically include issues 
of mental and cognitive disability. 

Team members: 

Roberta Kilty-Padgett 

Associate Professor 
Lily De Leon 

Visiting Assistant Professor 

A note must be made about terminology. At Michigan State University the terms 
disabled and disability mean incompetent or disqualified. These are considered med- 
ical terms rather than civil rights terms. The preferred terminology for a person with 
a disability is "handicapper," which denotes equal opportunity and equality in compe- 
tition. Rather than referring to a person with a disability, the term "characteristic" is 
substituted, as in "visual characteristic." While this usage is not accepted nationally, 
nor consistently even in Michigan, students learned that terminology 7 differs by state, 
region, and nation and that they should use terminology appropriate to their audi- 

Four objectives were identified for implementing this project. One was to intro- 
duce the concept of universal design in courses at all levels, while building the infor- 
mation base according to subject matter sequencing. This meant that interior design 
faculty, in addition to the co-investigators, had to make a commitment to include the 
concept in their courses as they deemed appropriate, which they did. They also had 
to be able to access universal design information provided by Adaptive Environments. 
The second objective was to develop and test instructional methods and materials in 
design studios. The third was to document the process of integration, and the fourth 
was to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the approach, thereby facilitating 
replication and improvement. The investigators did not want students to perceive 
universal design application as a limited, one-time exercise, but as an ongoing, inte- 
gral approach to all their projects and to their work in professional practice. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 63 

Chapter 1 1: Michigan State University 

Sequence of photographs 
taken at approximately 5 
minute intervals show the 
initial approach of the 
consultant to the student 
team (View A), progres- 
sion of discussion (Views 
B and C), and the 
increasing engagement of 
participants (View D). 


When dealing with innovation, it is difficult to know beforehand how and where 
to introduce new ideas and techniques most effectively. Four courses were initially 
targeted for integrating universal design across all levels of the curriculum. Three of 
the courses were taught in the fall semester of 1993: HED 150, Interior Design 
Drafting (for freshmen and sophomores); HED 342, Human Dimension and Interior 
Space (junior level); and HED 442, Interior Design Residential and Contract I (senior 
level). HED 840, Design Analysis and Programming (graduate course), was taught 
during spring semester of 1994. 

By its own momentum, this project perpetuated itself. When fall semester ended, 
the investigators expanded the project in succeeding courses: HED 352, Interior 
Design Synthesis II, where the residential context progressed into the 
commercial/contract realm; and HED 452, Interior Design Synthesis III, in which stu- 
dents pursued the design development of projects begun in HED 442. Only the four 
initial courses are described in this chapter. 

In the drafting course, HED 150, the concept of universal design was introduced 
along with the application of code requirements. In HED 342 and HED 442, new 
content included issues related to people with mental and cognitive characteristics in 
commercial and residential living situations. Seniors had previously taken the human 
dimension course without the content on people with cognitive characteristics. In 
HED 840, students examined existing facilities for their use and meaning. The uni- 
versal design concept was integrated into both the programming and evaluation 
components. In all four courses faculty administered a pre-test and post-test ques- 
tionnaire, developed by the UDEP sponsors, to document changes in awareness. 


'Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum' 

Anticipating that students might have difficulty accepting handicappers' participa- 
tion in the studio, the investigators had planned to have students take lecture courses 
on universal design before the studio encounter. This was not possible prior to teach- 
ing the studio courses in the fall semester of 1993- Students knew at the beginning of 
the term that handicappers would be present in the studio and discussions about ter- 
minology and the meaning of universal design preceded the handicappers' involve- 
ment. However, it takes time for people to overcome their initial discomfort. Body 
orientation and eye contact are behaviors that can only be learned in the presence of 

Consultants were an essential ingredient to the project and included handicappers 
and people with expertise in various characteristics. Selection of consultants was 
aimed at representing a number of characteristics, including mental and cognitive. 
Curriculum development proceeded in consultation with a representative from 
Michigan State University's Office of Handicapper Services, with members of its 
Student Advisory Board, as well as with the University's Retiree Service Corporation, 
Office of Veterans' Affairs, and the director of Michigan's Council on Developmental 

The co-investigators divided the teaching responsibilities and each monitored a 
part of the curriculum for course content continuity. Both worked on developing for 
faculty use a centralized information source containing universal design guidelines. 
Interior design faculty cooperated by sharing course syllabi and project descriptions. 
They turned to the co-investigators for universal design materials. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 65 

Chapter I I: Michigan State University 

Interior design student 
explaining her bathroom 
layout to a consultant. 


HED 150, Interior Design Drafting. This is an architectural drafting 
course. Its objectives are proficiency in mechanical drafting and architec- 
tural lettering; understanding the various building components and how- 
spaces are organized efficiently for human activities; and some barrier-free 
and life safety codes. Starting in fall semester of 1993 and continuing in 
spring semester, the course emphasized universal design for the first time. 
Teaching responsibility in both semesters was shared with graduate teach- 
ing assistants, who were also introduced to the universal design teaching 

The first assignment integrated the students' new knowledge about universal 
design into lettering exercises, by interpreting information extracted from UDEP 
resource materials. For an assignment on line weights, students drafted annotated 
scale drawings of facilities such as ramps and toilet rooms. To learn about Metric 
and English scales, students drafted a complete residential floor plan for a wheel- 
chair user and detailed a bedroom space for two wheelchair users. An exercise trac- 
ing different views of a wheelchair sensitized students to the importance of circula- 
tion clearances and turning radii. Consultants did not participate at this level. 

The pre-test, administered at the first class, indicated that most students were 
able to define universal design. The definitions show a range of understanding as to 
what universal design is: 

Design that places cupboards, sinks, electric outlets, and knobs at heights conve- 
nient to most anyone. 

Design that must have certain numbers and types of barrier-free units — as in 
hotels, apartments, etc. 

Design based on the majority of the ivorld comforts. 

Design to benefit all people, accommodating different needs for dijfereizt people. 

Design that is able to change/adapt to meet needs. 

[Design] that can be enjoyed by everyone, handicapper or not. 


'Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum' 


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interior design student 
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Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 67 

Chapter I I: Michigan State University 

In the post-test, students demonstrated their broader understanding of universal 

The right of disabled persons to have proper needs fulfilled in all spaces. 

...all buildings that are not residential have to be handicapper accessible. 

Student negotiates a campus 
ramp using a wheelchair 
while another student 
ohsenes and records the 

Most significant was the students' new awareness of the rights of handi- 
cappers to use facilities and their realization that barrier-free access must be 
in public spaces as well as residential settings. The cyclical process of 
exploration, evaluation, and redevelopment in design problem solving 
required the students to develop solutions that uniquely combined aesthet- 
ics with accessibility. 

Although some students found lettering exercises tedious at the begin- 
ning, they considered the exercise to be very informative, particularly 
regarding graphic symbols to indicate barrier-free access, space planning, 
and furniture arrangement. Students' acceptance of repetitive lettering and 
drafting practice grew as the course progressed and discussions made its 
relevance clear. Students incorporated project materials in their reference 
files as examples of an expanding graphic vocabulary. 

HED 342, Human Dimensions. Taught in two lectures and one 
studio meeting per week, this junior-level course addressed ergonomics and 
anthropometrics. In the studio, students designed either a domestic food 
preparation and dining area or a bedroom and bath area incorporating uni- 
versal design values. In the first part of the studio project, students worked 
cooperatively and individually to analyze the needs of a family group 
whose statures represented the 97.5 and 2.5 percentiles — a 58.7 inch female 
and a 74 inch male. Each student identified and addressed two additional 
characteristics for which to design. 

Following initial exploration of anthropometric data, the students com- 
pleted awareness exercises and developed their first design solutions with 
consultant input. They constructed scaled working manikins representing 
the range of users and participated in several empathic experiences. 
Students were not permitted to scrap their first solutions. Instead, they re-evaluated 
and transformed their designs in response to new criteria that emerged from the 
empathic experiences and from critiques. Working in teams, students evaluated their 
decisions, critiquing clearance and reach patterns, equity in privacy and group accom- 
modation, sequence and frequency of use principles and, to some degree, cost. They 


"Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum' 

used a scroll format to facilitate idea generation and communication and 
constructed foamcore models to test solutions. Consultants played an 
important role in the critiques and students responded to their presence 
with appropriate presentation devices such as tactile models and drawings. 

Final revisions were a team effort. While unusual, this was done so that 
students would learn to apply the graphic ideation process in a group con- 
text and to make the logistics of model making workable within the studio 
setting. At the final critique, students presented selected projects and con- 
sultants evaluated the scroll closures for universal fit. 

One of the objectives of this course was to dispel students' stereotypes 
by introducing them to people with cognitive characteristics. The investigators con- 
sulted Gerry Mutty of the Michigan Council on Disabilities for advice. He advised 
against taking students to an institution. The most positive approach, he suggested, 
would be to invite specific individuals to the classroom and asked them to relate their 
personal experiences and how the physical environment is problematic for them. 

Student explains a residen- 
tial design proposal in 
model form to consultants. 

Prior to input from people with cognitive characteristics, one of the 
junior class design teams became interested in development of a time-out 
room. While the actual practice of providing a time-out room is a rare 
occurrence, used only in unique situations, the students' interest in design- 
ing a time-out space persisted, even after hearing a presentation on cogni- 
tive characteristics and meeting the consultant. In the process, students 
learned important design considerations, including striving for simplicity 
rather than complexity, providing restful spaces in terms of visual and 
acoustical attributes, and providing order, whether or not the solution is a 
separate space. 

Students in this course were required to keep a journal about their 
empathic experiences and their interactions with consultants. Excerpted 
from a wealth of material are the following entries: 

Consultant tests a univer- 
sally designed scroll closure. 

Our group used the green glasses today to give the effect of tunnel vision. It was very 
hard to see. We found that textural surfaces helped us and it helped when there 
was a change in the texture and great color change. People either ignored us or 
were extra nice, such as the girl at the counter in the Union store. She placed the 
candy in Sarah s hand rather than on the counter. It was especially hard to figure 
out which candy was which. We also used the earplugs to resemble deafness. Tide 
sound was muffled and we only understood bits of the sentences.... 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 69 

Chapter I I: Michigan State University 

Section of kitchen and 
dining area was rendered 
with puffy paint to make it 


*<r -9»* w». ^wrapi- 

/ tf/so t/sed #?£ wheelchair. I never realized just how hard it is to manage in one. 
My arms were killing [me] from trying to get up the many slopes and ramps, and it 
was hard to keep a straight-line. It takes a lot of confidence and arm power. 
People treated me differently. They got out of my way and ignored me like they 
didn 't want to be near me or just smiled. The bathroom was very hard to use, 
another place you need upper body strength and arm strength.... 

After weeks of interacting with client representatives, I feel I am much more sensi- 
tive to the needs of people with disabilities. It amazes me how by lowering shelf 
heights, or towel bars, or changing the direction of a door swing, designers can 
accommodate a higher percentage of people. This project is teaching me to think a 
new way. Normally, I would design an area and accommodate someone like me 
— my comfortable reach, heights. ...I know now that "me" isn 1 average or normal. 
I need to broaden my scope. I like this project because it is challenging my think- 
ing. The representatives are very helpful in starting my thinking. The smallest sug- 
gestion or problem can make such a difference in a design. 

lighting has an impact on one with a cognitive characteristic. A good mechanism 
to have are dimmers to control brighttzess. A time-out room is also a good idea for 
people with a mental cognitive disability. This can include fish, music, reading 
material, and/or pictures that emit a pleasurable scene. Also having the living 
space organized in a manner where things stay the same so people with a cogni- 


'Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum' 

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Tactile floor plan prepared 
by a senior student using 
balsa wood to cue consul- 
tants with visual character- 

tive deficit will not feel uneasy with things out of place and not know where things 
are. Also color coordinating is very helpful. In the house there also needs to be 
sound control. Excessive sound creates a problem and becomes overwhelming. 

HED 442, Interior Design Residential and Contract I. This lectu re/studio class 
emphasized programming and schematic development within a universal design 
framework. It was an excellent vehicle for determining how well students would 
apply the universal design concept while incorporating new information on mental 
and cognitive characteristics. People with cognitive and visual characteristics were 
guest speakers. 

The end product for this course was a program document including design 
schematics. Students' projects included a broad range of facilities: residential (bed 
and breakfast) facilities, commercial including restaurants, an ecclesiastical project, 
health care facilities, museum and exhibition spaces, and offices. Each student team 
kept a weekly log for effective project management. 

Three design exercises supponed development of the program document. 
Students were asked to set themselves up as ten person design firms. In approxi- 
mately thirty minutes, they developed a design philosophy using brainstorming and 
role playing. Another assignment had students develop a corporate logo for their 
small design teams of three to five people. Each team was required to design a sym- 
bol that would represent the design team's image and would act as a locational 
device. Among other requirements, the design had to have a strong three dimension- 

Strategies for Teaching I 'niversal Design 7 1 

Chapter 1 1: Michigan State University 

al component that could be read easily through touch alone. Each design had to be 
enhanced by a sound that captured its essence. When these were played at the pre- 
sentation, the consultant with a visual characteristic was able to easily recognize and 
comprehend two of the ten sounds. 

In the first oral presentations, students were only partially successful in communi- 
cating to the consultant with a visual characteristic. The first problem students 
encountered was how to describe their work explicitly rather than pointing to draw- 
ings and saying "over here" or "over there." Students learned to present using com- 
pass points — North, South, East, and West — to describe visual materials in an image- 
able way, to prepare tactile floor plans, to have problem statements printed in Braille, 
and to key drawings sequentially in a tactile manner. The students' goal became pre- 
senting their materials in a way that the person with a visual characteristic would 
receive information at the same time as others. 

Working model for logo in 
HED 442 combines symbols 
for the design process, 
elements of classicism, and 
a human figure that rotates 
through battery operation. 
It is accompanied by the 
sound of a ticking clock. 

About halfway through the semester the investigators distributed the fol- 
lowing question: "Please describe the concept of universal design as you 
see it. Has it changed since your experience in HED 342 last year? Has it 
changed since the beginning of HED 442?" In the responses, one senior of 
the twenty-five students responding still equated universal design with barri- 
er-free design. The remaining 24 responses indicated an understanding that 
universal design includes all people. Eight students clearly stated that their 
concept had changed since the previous year. Seventeen stated it had 
changed since the beginning of HED 442. 

I see the concept of universal design as designing for the general public which 
includes people of all sizes and with all characteristics. My outlook has 
changed in that now universal design is not an option, it is a necessity. One 
should not even question it — they should do it automatically.... 

Last year I learned the basics of universal design. To me, it is simply making an 
environment usable for all people. I love the idea. It just makes so much sense. I 
guess I can understand how current professionals may turn their noses up at uni- 
versal design because it seems so constraining to them — having all sorts of new 
clearances and considerations to abide by — it's more work. But what about all of 
the people that past designs have disabled because they couldn't use a space to its 
full potential? We were constraining ourselves. Universal design isn't about mak- 
ing things more difficult to design. It is about making things more simple to use.... 


'Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum' 

I guess the thing I've learned most this semester is how very necessary it is that we 
listen, and hear, what people say about being disadvantaged by one's environ- 
ment. Many new considerations have beeri added to my mental library. What 
people want to be addressed as. What they need to be able to get full use from their 
surrounding environments. I never thought about cognitive characteristics and 
how drastically a space could affect someone with a cognitive characteristic. That 
realization was very exciting for me. Also, one of the biggest problems I have is 
when people (design students) make such an issue of handicapper accessibility. It is 
important, I agree, but it is so overstated right now. It isn't an additional, "special" 
consideration — it is the norm. . . designing for everyone.... 

HED 840, Design Analysis and Programming. This graduate-level course cov- 
ered programming methodology for generating and collecting data to determine 
design requirements in facility planning and management as well as design analysis to 
determine congruence between people, environment, and process. Students exam- 
ined existing facilities in terms of use and meaning. 

Consultants did not participate because actual facility users were available to meet 
with students. The graduate students applied universal design concepts in structured 
assignments. They used analysis methods such as observation of physical traces and 
human activities, focused interviews, photo documentation, and archival research. 
Students evaluated an existing facility from two perspectives: a personal viewpoint 
regarding building access and wayfinding, and a comparison of the facility to a set of 
criteria, in this case the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines 
(ADAAG). This enabled students to appreciate some of the problems posed by physi- 
cal barriers and to recognize the range of possible solutions while providing them 
with a systematic approach to analysis. 

They also developed environment-behavior hypotheses, based on the intent of the 
ADA legislation, thus moving beyond code requirements. In the last assignment the 
students used nonparticipatory observation techniques and met with a number of 
actual users on-site over a period of time. On the post-test questionnaire, six out of 
seven students explained universal design and the Americans with Disabilities Act 

Consultant Participation- Eight people with specific characteristics, ranging in age 
from thirteen years old to mid-eighties, were consultants to classes during the year. One 
consultant had a cognitive characteristic. Five consultants had mobility characteristics 
and used assistive devices ranging from wheelchairs to walkers. The two consultants 
with visual characteristics had different kinds of experiences: being without sight since 
birth and losing sight over time. Two consultants had auditory characteristics. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 73 

Chapter I I: Michigan State University 

Thirteen-year-old consul- 
tant discusses ber personal 
experiences negotiating the 
environment with interior 
design juniors. 

People with particular expertise also served as consultants to the class- 
es, including a lifespan coordinator for an intergenerational center, a cardiac 
rehabilitation specialist, and a social worker whose child developed seizures 
during infancy. A graduate of Michigan State University's interior design 
program who is a practicing interior designer, advocate, and specialist in 
barrier-free design attended lectures and studios at the junior and senior lev- 
els. Her summary of the experience included the following: 

As I conversed with the students, I felt very proud of their enthusiasm for 
what I had considered. . . as a student, "criteria for a grade requirement." 
Even though harrier-free and the human scale was encouraged. . . I did not 
have the same excitement that has been conveyed and projected as I visited 
the classroom. At first I thought maybe the excitement was biased when I would 
converse with students, since I was in the classroom and possibly the comments 
would be slight. However, as the semester progressed, it was obvious to me that the 
motivation was within the students, and I have not heard of one negative attitude. 
If only everyone had that enthusiasm. 

The consultants stimulated the students to ask questions about how well different 
environments worked for them as individuals. They were able to reach the students 
on a personal level, developing rapport within an open atmosphere. Even though 
consultants may not have felt they could contribute very much in terms of design, as 
their classroom experience expanded they realized the depth and value of their 
knowledge and contributions. They were eager to continue with the project during 
spring semester. The thirteen-year-old was very nervous at being in a college class- 
room. She overcame her initial apprehensions when the students put her at her ease, 
and they thoroughly enjoyed working together. 

Consultants learned to project themselves into the spaces designed by students. 
An elderly couple in their eighties was so excited to be involved that they voluntarily 
took measurements at home to give students accurate sizing information. During 
junior critiques a consultant with a mobility characteristic and one with a visual char- 
acteristic worked well as a team. At times one consultant's recommendation was con- 
tradicted by another consultant. Each consultant provided guidance by identifying the 
problem and the need, but resolving the conflicts was left to the students. An exam- 
ple was hard versus soft flooring in the kitchen area. What would facilitate easy 
movement for the wheelchair user might simultaneously become hazardous for the 
person with a visual characteristic when spillage occurred. Some spirited interaction 
with a consultant left one student remembering for life how to lay out a shower for 
wheelchair users. This consultant enjoyed attending classes so much that he pre- 
ferred being in the classroom to being in his office. 


'Embracing Universal Design at All Levels of the Curriculum 


During the fall semester the seniors seemed hesitant to engage in conversation 
with the consultants on a voluntary basis. During spring semester work sessions with 
consultants, scheduled in twenty minute blocks for groups of three to five students, 
seemed to facilitate communication. It was not possible to objectively measure an 
increase in the amount of interaction between seniors and consultants during spring 
semester, but evidence of increased awareness appears in the work of some students. 
The fact that all independent study requests came from seniors seems to demonstrate 
that the universal design concept touched a number of individuals who recognized its 
value and wanted to enhance their own experiences prior to graduation. 

Juniors, however, seemed transformed by their contact with consultants, as evi- 
denced by this typical journal entry: 

I feel very fortunate to have been able to communicate and brainstorm with our 
client representatives. I feel like I'm getting closer to actually designing something 
that has purpose and could actually be used. 

During the final critique in the junior class, the faculty asked the students whether 
to keep the consultants. The answer was a resounding yes. 


It is clear to the investigators that experiential learning is an effective technique for 
educating prospective designers about universal design that directly benefits everyone. 
For the investigators, this experience was the most rewarding in their twenty-year 
teaching careers. Surprisingly, the job of teaching took care of itself. The students 
and consultants taught each other more effectively than an individual faculty member 

The investigators believe that without user involvement in the design process and 
without the examination of human performance in the physical environment, the stu- 
dents' level of awareness, understanding, and sensitivity as well as their sense of com- 
mitment could not have developed so quickly. When student assistants met with the 
UDEP advisor, they cited consultant participation as the most valuable aspect of the 
courses. In the future, bringing consultants in for group sessions during lecture time 
would encourage more equitable student-consultant interaction. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 75 

Chapter I I: Michigan State University 

" . . experiential learning is Faculty also participated in the focus courses, attending guest lectures 

and student presentations. One faculty member who said she was uncom- 
an effective technique jor fortable speaking directly to handicappers appreciated being able to attend 

educating prospective critiques and learn from the consultants. 

designers about universal Tq - mteg[aLXe unive rsal design into the curriculum and professional prac- 

desion. . . " l * ce > t ^ ie supP 01 * an< 3 commitment of people outside academia is also 

needed. A pool of "field" experts and user/clients who can enrich the teaching-learn- 
ing experience is an indispensable resource. 

Although the co-investigators had intended to develop a matrix of suggested pro- 
ject categories as vehicles for teaching universal design, they realized very quickly that 
universal design applies to all projects in addition to all people. Their focus changed 
from trying to design problems that emphasized the concept to demonstrating that the 
concept applies to all projects. In an ideal world universal design would not have to 
be called out. Project parameters were specifically designed to incorporate universal 
design criteria without labeling them as such. The investigators structured the univer- 
sal design content to gradually develop in complexity appropriate to design studio 

The co-investigators proposed to evaluate the effectiveness of these curricular 
strategies. Pre-test and post-test questionnaires were administered to participating stu- 
dents, consultants, and faculty, comparing levels of knowledge and awareness, opin- 
ions regarding quality of experience, and the significance of courses in contributing 
towards social-responsiveness. Human subjects' approval was required prior to 
implementation of this project. Questionnaire responses are being analyzed. The 
data would appear to support what is evident from the students' design work: stu- 
dents' awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity to the needs of all people has grown 
from this experiment. 

The investigators are reviewing the content of lecture and studio courses to docu- 
ment the degree to which universal design concepts are being incorporated over four 
successive semesters. Student projects in specific courses are being analyzed for con- 
tent to track participating students through upper design courses, to analyze the 
degree to which their design solutions apply universal design concepts learned during 
the experiment period, and to determine the success of the current teaching approach 
compared to the year preceding the experiment. 


North Dakota State University — Fargo, ND 

Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design 

"Three Projects forTeaching Universal Design Concepts" 


A primary objective of interior design educators is to sensitize students to current 
issues that will have a lasting impact on the profession. By exposing interior design 
students to real life situations and exploring innovative solutions, educators can suc- 
cessfully prepare students to meet the challenges of the working world. Universal 
design is such an issue. 

The purpose of this project was to develop and implement universal design teach- 
ing units in the course content of the second-year design process studio. Five units 
were proposed, one to correspond with each phase of the design process — 
research/programming, conceptual design, schematic design, design development, and 
documentation. Each unit would address the issues of lifespan design through a 
humanistic and holistic approach. 

The challenge of this project was to integrate issues and concepts of universal 
design into the curriculum at an early stage in the students' development. As this pro- 
ject did not receive full funding, I tried to introduce and reinforce the concepts of uni- 
versal design while completing the existing course requirements. 

Faculty coordinator: 

Shauna Corry 
Assistant Professor 


Universal design was introduced in the first sophomore studio course, Design 
Process 1. Fourteen students were enrolled and the focus of the semester was resi- 
dential design. This is the first environmental design course for interior design stu- 
dents. In their freshman year they focus on abstract two- and three-dimensional 
design problems and drafting skills, but do not engage in designing built environ- 

The course description reads: 'Application of design theory and process to ana- 
lyze and design environments. Emphasizes programming, schematics and design 
development/' The two most important course goals were "to understand and apply 
functional and human factors to interior environments" and "to develop an awareness 
of and sensitivity to the theory of universal design." 

A series of three major projects were developed to focus on one or more of the 
course goals. Projects varied in scale and consisted of residential spaces. Each project 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 77 

Chapter 1 2: North Dakota State University 

r — HeSCArN & c^L-A-fZ^bP ^"^ 

emphasized universal design and the students were asked to address this concept in 
all phases of their projects. 

Project 1: Analysis of a Problem Environment This introductory project 
required the students to combine and apply their knowledge of anthropometrics, 
proxemics. and ergonomics by analyzing a problem environment on the campus or in 
the Fargo/Moorhead area. Each student chose a problem environment, one which he 
had experienced and found to be uncomfortable. They analyzed the environments 
for how people experienced the space in terms of function, accessibility, easy of use, 
circulation, patterns . zoning, materials and aesthetics. The students were then asked 
to redesign the space according to the needs of the users. 

Project 2: Hygiene Facility. This project focused on residential planning with 
an emphasis on universal design and the design process. The purposes of this project 
were: 1) to study and research ergonomics and anthropometrics in a family bath- 
room: 2) to introduce students to working with a client and designing to meet that 
client's needs and wants; 3) to introduce students to clients who have sensory impair- 
ments: and 4) to introduce them to all phases of the design process. The students 
selected a client and conducted research on that client's disability. The designs which 
developed were very sensuous and creative spaces. 


'Three Projects for Teaching Universal Design Concepts' 


Project 3: Lake Cabin Final Project The students were required to design a 
living space for a client with a mobility impairment. Consultants with disabilities were 
used extensively in this project: the consultant with multiple disabilities visited the 
studio four times during the course of the project. 

In addition to the projects, the students made two field trips: one to a residence 
which was designed exclusively for two people with mobility impairments and anoth- 
er to Easy Street, a rehabilitation center in St. Luke's Hospital. They also participated 
in a sensitivity training workshop. Resources from the UDEP Colloquium were 
extremely helpful to the instructor in preparing lectures and to the students as design 


During the course of the semester the students were introduced to and interacted 
with eight consultants with disabilities and a family member of one consultant. They 
also attended a seminar on growing up with a physical disability. The consultants 
included an elderly couple; a couple with mobility impairments, both of whom use 

Strategies for Teaching L 'niversal Design 79 

Chapter 12: North Dakota State University 

wheelchairs; a man who has a sight disability; and a woman who is mobility, speech, 
and hearing impaired and was accompanied by her father. 

The consultants generously gave their time, shared their experi- 
ences with the class, and critiqued each student's work. The stu- 
dents were, at first, hesitant and uncomfortable around the consul- 
tants. After spending time with each other and asking questions, 
the students, the instructor, and the consultants developed good 
working relationships and friendships. 

The students initially expressed some concerns about communi- 
cating with the consultants. Two of the consultants had speech and 
hearing impairments because of brain stem injuries. The students 
asked to work with other consultants, people with whom they 
could communicate more easily. At the seminar on growing up 
with disabilities the students had spent time with three college students who were 
mobility impaired to varying degrees and the class felt these individuals would be 
easier to communicate with. I felt it was important for the class to be exposed to a 
wide range of disabilities and did not recruit additional consultants. 


According to the course evaluations, the students enjoyed learning about univer- 
sal design and felt that by focusing on the concepts of universal design they were 
able to develop valuable skills which will enhance the environments they design. It 
is apparent from the post-test that student awareness of and sensitivity to universal 
design issues increased. The following comments are from the UDEP questionnaires: 

It helped me realize how limited by our surroundings we can be, and how effective 
design can enable people of all abilities to use and enjoy a space. 

That effective universal design provides afunctional and comfortable space, not 
only for those with physical impairments, but for all users. It is not a hindrance, 
but rather an asset to any project. 

Universal design is unique and opens a whole new realm for design. I think it 
opens up new possibilities instead of adding restrictions. 


'Three Projects for Teaching Universal Design Concepts' 

Noticing that although it [a built environment] may look fine, it may not work at 
all, and as this is a democratic society, so should design be. 

On college course evaluations when asked "What about this course did you think 
was most valuable in helping you to learn?" the students replied: 

The person-to-person contact with disabled people to understand their feelings and 
abilities so that our understanding and knowledge for designing increased. 

Universal design and sensitivity training. 

Meeting with consultants and lecturers. 

Participation in UDEP has been a positive experience for the students, the consul- 
tants, and myself. This project brought together people on the NDSU campus and in 
the community who had not been aware of the resources and skills each has to offer. 
This successful project strengthened student awareness of universal design and fos- 
tered community, faculty, and student interaction. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 8 1 

Norwich University — Norwich ,VT 

Department of Architecture 



Experiential Exercises for Teaching Universal Design 


Norwich proposed to integrate universal design into a design studio and seminar 
course for third and fourth year students which would focus on housing issues, in 
particular, shared housing for older people. A two-day design charrette would be the 
focal point, involve local designers and consultants, and generate multiple solutions 
for a real client. The focus of the project was modified in response to minimal fund- 
ing and teaching assignments. Instead, universal design was introduced in the Human 
Issues class and the concurrent second year design studio. 

Faculty coordinator: 

Elizabeth R Church 
Assistant Professor 


All of the second year architecture students at Norwich University participate in a 
required lecture/discussion class entitled Human Issues in Design. In this class, stu- 
dents are introduced to a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, how cul- 
ture influences the built environment, sign/symbol/meaning, wayfinding, anthropo- 
metrics, ergonomics, and universal design. 

The concept of universal design is woven into the fabric of the Human Issues 
course with a straight-forward agreement between the students and myself that all 
people should be able to enjoy and participate in the designed environment. The 
topic of universal design, the specifics of code issues and products, and developing an 
understanding of needs specific to certain groups are initially addressed from several 
points of departure: a lecture on universal design with slides; a video showing of 
either Passion Fish or Waterdance- readings from Design Intervention (Preiser, Vischer, 
White); a reading of Ray Carver's short story "Cathedral"; and an introduction to the 
ANSI Guidelines (American National Standards Institute). 

A design studio is run concurrently with the lecture class. In the studio setting, 
universal design was addressed throughout each student's design process as they 
addressed the design problem. It is understood that the buildings must be accessible 
to the persons with disabilities and, if the design problem specifies a user group such 
as children or older people, the student is responsible for tailoring the design to the 
needs of this group as well. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 83 

Chapter 13: Norwich University 

Students complete an exer- 
cise titled "Am I a 
Renaissance Man or 
Woman?" in which they 
compare their own size 
and shape to Da Vinci's 
and Le Corbusier's ideal 
human forms. 


To supplement formal presentations on the topic, I asked the 
students to participate in experiential exercises that, I believe, they 
are more likely to remember than conventional lecture/discussion 
and read/test formats. In one of the initial exercises, students com- 
pared themselves to historic representations of human form. With 
one student lying on paper on the floor, another traces the outline 
of her body onto paper. This exercise is designed to promote stu- 
dents' awareness that their dimensions do not fall readily into Da 
Vinci's perfect human form, the well-known depiction of a man 
whose outstretched body is contained within a circle and a square. 
In the second half of the exercise, students tried to fit themselves 
into Le Corbusier's Modulor Man — using the proportions he established from the 
Fibonacci series. The outcome sought for in this class is the students' recognition that 
there is no single formula for predicting or accommodating human dimensions. The 
students also became aware that Da Vinci and Le Corbusier, as well as many other 
designers and thinkers, have tied their design to the idealized dimensions and form of 
a very small population, those figures who fit into the geometric or numeric formula 
supported by a particular theoretical stance. 

In another exercise, I borrowed four wheelchairs, four walkers, two pairs of 
crutches, and four pairs of blackened sunglasses from the University's Nursing 
Division and gave the students a shon orientation on how to use these items. 
Although these second year students sleep in their dorms, eat in the cafeteria, and 
attend classes outside the architecture building, they essentially live in the studio. By 
making this equipment available during the evening hours when these students are 
most likely to be relaxed and open to experiment and play, I offered these healthy, 
able-bodied, nineteen year old students a chance to personally discover the issues of 
universal design. The only caveat I placed on the use of the equipment was that nei- 
ther the equipment nor the users should come to any harm; otherwise, the students 
were free to roam the building and the campus. When I arrived in the classroom, stu- 
dents regaled me with stories of who got stuck going from here to there, who could 
not get to his dorm room, or who won the race around the quad. 

To insure that all students had an opportunity to experience the use of the bor- 
rowed equipment, I developed an in-class exercise requiring the students to travel in 
and out of various buildings on campus using the equipment, collect information from 
each of several locations, and record their findings. 


'Experiential Exercise for Teaching Universal Design 


Comments from Students Wearing "Blind-Sunglasses" 

Being blind was a great experience — it sharpened my other senses so that I could 
tell when the ground surface changed, when people walked by, and the smell of 
food. I relied heavily on the edges of pathways, like curbs or bricks or grass, to get 
myself here and there. 

Carpets give no clues by texture like the tile floors do. I got around fairly easily 
without the use of a stick — when I was in the architecture building — because I 
know my way around. I guess what I learned most was to keep layouts simple and 
easy to "read" with a stick, because chances are there is no visual memory. 

Comments from Students Using the Wheelchair 

The wheelchair was very tiring to me, especially since Sara and I had to 
travel way out of our way to get to Cabot Building. The wheelchair was 
a pain to be in because even just a step or threshold of 3" or 4" high is 
hard to maneuver over. Doors are also hard to get through because they 
are so heavy and handles are so high up. Even some of the slight ramp- 
ing was a pain inside because it was carpeted. 

Uphill sucked, as did the elevator in Cabot. It was very narrow and did- 
n't stop flush with the floor. Also you become endangered of losing fin- 
gernails in the spokes. 

The main difficulty I experienced in the library was interfacing with the 
person behind the desk. 

In general I decided that the campus is not handicapped accessible. A 
handicapped person would have to be a Special Olympics athlete to nego- 
tiate this campus. 

Bathroom is large enough if I'm alone. 

The wheelchair is fun, but I wouldn 't want to be in it forever. 


-. " ■•./„>'■& 

\uJimt performed a series 
of tasks from iummg with- 
in afue-foot Jul meter cir- 
cle n navigating across 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 85 

Chapter 13: Norwich University 

Students' presentations of 
the Museum for the Senses. 

In conjunction with the lecture course, second year students had a studio prob- 
lem to design a Museum for the Senses. This fictional museum was to provide visi- 
tors with an experience — educational or experiential — of each of the five human 
senses. When the studio assignment was given, the students had just begun their 
journeys around campus with blindfolds, crutches, and wheelchairs, so they were in 
the habit of altering their perceptions of what once had been familiar to them — the 
campus. To encourage students to draw from their own sensory abilities, I assigned 
several exercises that stimulated heightened use of their senses. In one exercise the 
students were blindfolded while listening to a passage of music, smelling various 
objects, touching highly textured objects, and tasting food. Then they drew one of 
the sensory experiences. In another exercise the students visited the site of the pro- 
ject and drew a sensory map that was neither representational nor cognitive. Rather, 
the map, called a "sensory observation map," was intended to record how each of the 
senses influenced or was influenced by the site. 


Since all architecture majors are required to take the Human Issues class and I 
have included this technique in the class for three years, the "Experiencing 
Disabilities" exercise has become a bit of a tradition in the department. This year, as I 
watched students navigate their way into a five-foot diameter circle taped on the floor 


"Experiential Exercise for Teaching Universal Design 


of the architecture building's foyer, I overheard many more 
advanced students recalling memories of their own experiences 
doing the same exercise. The campus' compact layout results in 
many people bearing witness to the travels of students with blind- 
folds and wheelchairs, a form of residual learning for others on 

The level of engagement by the students in both the universal 
design exercises in the Human Issues course and the Museum of 
the Senses studio problem was gratifying. From my experience 
with the exercises in the Human Issues course, I feel that the stu- 
dents' experiential participation was more effective than classroom 
discussions or a guest with disabilities recounting anecdotes from 
real life. Likewise, the Museum problem called on the students' ability to isolate and 
think about each of the senses, and consider each sense, in and of itself, as an oppor- 
tunity to explore, learn, communicate, investigate, and be the focus of primary design 

A sensory observation map 
drawn by a student experi- 
encing bearing at the site 
for the museum. 

Strategies for Teaching Un iiersal Design 87 

Pratt Institute— New York, NY 

Collaboration between Architecture, Industrial Design, Interior 
Design, and Communication Design 

'Teaching the Teachers" 


The faculty at Pratt Institute proposed to take the idea of curriculum innovation 
beyond the walls of their own institution. By conducting a series of Teach-ins, build- 
ing on the 1960s precedent for responding to a crisis situation, they could address the 
urgent need to raise the level of public understanding of universal design and to share 
important information. Calling the effort Teach the Teachers, the faculty planned to 
build on the curriculum materials for teaching universal design that they had already 
developed in a previous year through funding from the J.M. Foundation. 

The teach-ins would allow both faculty and consultants with disabilities to com- 
municate their unique insights and experiences directly to those who need it most — 
the teachers — thereby having the greatest impact on the long-term education of our 
nation. Materials would be jointly prepared by faculty from five fields and five con- 
sultants with a range of disabilities. 

Faculty coordinator 

Brent Porter 
Associate Professor of 

Team members: 

Bruce Hannah 

Professor of Industrial 

Margaret Leahy 

Assocarte Professor of 

Interior Destgn 
Joe Roberts 

AssocJote Professor of 

Communications Design 

At the teach-ins, participants would receive a matrix of available resources and an 
educational "tool kit" representing a range of interdisciplinary 7 contributions from Pratt 
faculty. The teach-ins would be limited to twenty-five participants and be repeated to 
include as many teachers as possible from institutions of higher education in the New 
York City region. 


In the winter and spring semesters of 1994, two teach-ins were held at Pratt, the 
second event building on the lessons from the first. One of the primary purposes of 
the teach-ins was to engage participants' imaginations in the issue of universal design 
and to encourage their use of the concept and available resources in their classroom 
teaching. Each teach-in was a mixture of presentations by faculty and people with 
disabilities who had specific expertise on some aspect of universal design, inter- 
spersed with videos and slides illustrating the virtues of accessible design. 

The faculty team invited professional colleagues with disabilities to be consultants 
and to contribute to all aspects of the activities, from initial event planning to "taking a 
walk" on campus and within buildings. Denise Ann McQuade, coordinator of the 
New York City Transit Authority's Office of ADA Compliance and the person who was 
instrumental in bringing about the city's disability code, has mobility difficulty and 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 89 

Chapter 14: Pratt Institute 

Opening remarks by Bruce 
Hannah, President of 
CA.DRE., at the 
"Universal Design Teach- 
in, " Pratt Institute, January 
14, 1994. 


Why design something that can't be used? 

Why say something that can't be heard? 

Why write something that can't be understood? 

Why draw soiling thatch 

Why 'budd ^ something that is inaccessible? 

Why construct sonnethirgthatcar^^ 

Why paint something that is invisible? 

Whyscuipt something that can't be fek? 

Why bridge something that can't be crossed? 

Who are designers designing /or? 

What are designers designing? 

When are designers designing? 

How are designers designing? 

Are designers making tife elegant for everyone? 

How do the bkidtum off the lights? 

How do tfie deaf listen to music? 

How do the mute speak? 

How do tfre paralyzed feel? 

How do the tasteless taste? 

Whose standards are standard? 

Whose norms are nonnai? 

Whose solution is universal? 

Whose microcosm is worldly? 

Whose exclusivity is inclusive? 


"Teaching the Teachers' 


Build the BuMng! 

Design the Design! 

Sculpt the Sculpture! 

Etch the Etching! 

Draw the Drawing! 

Draft the Drafting! 

Paint the Painting! 

Detait the Details! 

Communicate the Communication! 

Photograph the Photograph! 

Film the Film! 

Plan the Plan! 

Color the Color! 

Structure the Structure! 

Texture the Texture! 













Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 9 1 

Chapter 14: Pratt Institute 

uses a wheelchair. She has been an activist for independent living for twenty-four 
years. David McFadden. curator of Decorative Arts at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 
has a walking impairment and provided the team with his broad expertise in design, 
publishing, and confronting New York City everyday. Stanley Wainapel, medical 
director of Adult Day Services for the Jewish Guild for the Blind and associate profes- 
sor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Columbia University, has a progressive vision impair- 
ment. He helped the team understand the gulf between designers and the medical 
professions. Milda Vizbar, an accomplished artist and advocate for muscular dystro- 
phy, has difficulty walking. She was invaluable in reminding the team and the teach- 
in participants that dialogue must be expanded between designers and people with 

The first speaker of the teach-in, Bruce Hannah, "jump started" the dialogue with 
remarks entitled "Questions Designers Should Ask'" (reproduced on a the following 
pages). These are questions that had arisen during the planning stages for the teach- 
in and reflect the collective voice of students, faculty- . and professionals. 

A brief overview of the American with Disabilities Act gave all participants shared 
knowledge of the federal law. A presentation of images, called "Looking for Mr. Grab 
Bar," illustrated good, bad, and indifferent examples of universal design that came 
from a year-long search for teaching materials. Examples of elegant products that 
work for diverse users were drawn from a Universal Design course offered the previ- 
ous year in the Department of Industrial Design (see photos on the facing page). 
Other speakers were persons with disabilities who gave first-hand accounts of daily 
encounters with the built environment, further illustrating the need for new solutions. 


Faculty from six academic departments worked together to produce the teach-ins, 
a major accomplishment at any school. These individuals are continuing to work 
together to propose additional campus-wide efforts in the next academic year and to 
introduce materials into their own departmental curricula. The consultants played an 
important role in keeping the focus on users. Although the faculty probably needed 
an opportunity to come together to solidify their goals and directions, consultant 
Milda Vizbar reminded her fellow team members that the central goal should be to 
bring those with disabilities together with designers in as many ways as possible and 
as often as possible. 

The preliminary task of creating a poster to advertise the teach-in became a 
unpredicted opportunity for the organizers to confront the tension between design 


"Teaching the Teachers'* 


Universally Designed 
Products: (A) Light Grip 
Rechargeable Can Opener 
by Mark Zaininger; (B) 
Travel Hair Dryer by En- 
Bair Chang; (C) Door 
Handle/Lock Hardware by 
Lutz Sauvant; and (Dj 
Oral Hygiene Device by 
Benson Kravtin. 

and universal legibility. After many weeks of deliberation about the graphics and lan- 
guage, the result for the initial mailing was appealing to designers but frankly was not 
well-received by participants with disabilities (pan of the poster is reproduced on the 
following page). 

The high-gloss, white and orange poster, designed to command attention, pro- 
duced glare for people with visual impairments. The deliberate overlapping of phras- 
es on the poster was intended to draw people's attention to the role of graphics. 
Instead, people had difficulty reading the poster. The multiple layers of letters — large 
and small, light and dark, receding and advancing on the page — intended to convey 
multiple meanings and even contradictions, was not understood. One of the consul- 
tants, the physician with a visual disability, explained to the team that the terms used 
by designers did not have the same meaning to physicians who treat people with 
visual impairments. He noted that because the orange and white color did not offer 
enough contrast, as red and white color would, the lettering was unclear. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 93 

Chapter 1 4: Pratt Institute 

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The teach-in events attracted fewer faculty than had been expected. Many of the 
participants were people who already had some awareness of universal design. 
Nondesign staff participated and added a breadth that was instrumental in expanding 
the resources to be used in future teaching. Many faculty who did not attend have 
design practices as well as teaching responsibilities and cited the attention they 
already give to universal design in their professional work. 

Some faculty hold a strong resistance to universal design but the team found that 
attitudes are changing. It was particularly difficult to attract faculty from other 


'Teaching the Teachers" 

colleges and universities in the city, which had been part of the proposed 
aim. Some of these institutions are developing their own programs in uni- 
versal design. Further, the professional associations in which faculty are 
members have conducted extensive workshops, lectures and their own ver- 
sions of "teach-ins" in the New York City region. In fact, Pratt's Center for 
Advanced Design Research (CADRE) assists professional and trade groups 
in organizing training sessions for designers on universal design. 

The shift at the second teach-in, directing the focus toward students as 
well as faculty, was in response to suggestions from team members and fac- 
ulty who participated in the first teach-in. The belief, confirmed by student 
participants, was that teachers were more likely to engage the material if 
they felt pressure from students who were informed of the importance of 
universal design to their future as designers. The large collection of videos 
which had been examined by faculty for the first teach-in were excerpted 
to introduce students to the extensive resources now available on the Pratt 

The second teach-in changed its strategy slightly by introducing a "char- 
rette," a hands-on activity that gave designers an opportunity to experience 
buildings and outdoor spaces accompanied by a person with a disability. 
By specifically orienting the activity to students, greater participation might 
be achieved. Over 190 students and faculty attended. At least three faculty- 
brought their classes, integrating the charrette exercise into their design stu- 

"Taking a walk" through the campus gave students the opportunity for 
candid exchanges with persons with disabilities. Based on the practice of 
Stephen Valentine, a Pratt professor who uses simulation of disabilities in 
his design course, participants in the second teach-in were asked to re- 
experience everyday environments. Participants took turns as escorts or as 
users with disabilities similar to what was done in Valentine's class. 
According to the nature of the actual or imagined disability, participants 
respond to encountered environments. The escort or escorts reacted to the 
response of the participant with disabilities and vice versa. When roles are 
reversed, the dialogue is enriched. For example. Dr. Wainapel. who is visu- 
ally impaired, became an escort and led a participant around Pratt's Main 
Building, based on his degree of localized sensitivity and feedback at the 
moment. Milda Vizbar, who walks with difficulty with a cane, "took a walk" outdoors 
and noted the absence of benches located along sidewalks and the difficulty of find- 
ing and using those that did exist. 

^ m F.J: ' 

, — • 


Students take turns simu- 
lating hlinJtwss and feeing 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 95 

Chapter 14: Pratt Institute 

Visually Impaired Users 
Meet Visual 

Professionals. A compar- 
ison of how designers and 
people with low vision 
define the elements of 
graphic design. 


Those who have cataracts, diabetc corx&tons. 
macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, 
glaucoma, rtermanopia or myopia. 

Major criteria. „(norwnagnffication issues) 


amount of fight amiable and 
the evenness of light 

Those who are artists, designers and architects. 

.{may include scale shifts tor effect) 


high or tow contrast (cannot see 
low contrasts) and the affect of the 
distance between colors on the light 
spectrum; the greater the distance 
between colors —those approaching 
blackness and whiteness- the better, 

SATURATION: saturated or unsaturated; 
brightly saturated may be better H tetters 
or figures on a dull background which 
does not produce glare. 


affect of one color on a second color may 
be experienced if broad "contrast" difference 


figure in relation to its background; 
darker background with ighter letters 
or figures Is better for visually impaired. 

as ive*modes of appearance": 
ILLUM1NANT: light source; sun- 
light or artificial light 
ILLUMINATION: quality of being 

lighted by an illuminant 
VOLUME: three-dimensional 
SURFACE: two-dimensional 
FILM: skyward, sky-view 


degree of difference between the 

"inherent attributes " of "hue," 
"value" and "intensity;" i.e. 

BU E: redness, bfueness or yeftow 
ness or pigments; for light, 
red-, blue- or greenness 

VALUE: whiteness or blackness 

INTENSITY: dullness or brightness; 
includes SATURATION 


property of all colors in which 
one color is influenced by a 
second color next to It, on it. 
or around it 


figura! relation to background 


{goal for minimum glare and gloss; ex.: 
less shine on a surface; matte finishes; 
low gloss varnish on piano, furniture or 
paintings; use of non-reftectfve glass; 
and avoidance of mirrored surfaces 

3. GLARE as result of GLOSS "ATTRIBUTE" 
(goal may lately be minimum glare) 
GLOSS {artificial shine) among the 
"Geometrical attributes " which include. 
LUSTER {natural shine}, TEXTURE, 
"affect of movement as weft as relationship between 
angles of the tight source, the objects surface and 
the eye (See Hunt Measurement nf Aooearance.) 


"Teaching the Teachers' 


Louis Cespedes' proposal for 
a new ramp prepared dur- 
ing the cbarrette. 

The consultants with disabilities had a strong effect on the student participants, 
especially as it captured their imaginations in the Taking a Walk exercise. One stu- 
dent proposed a deconstructivist ramp for the entry to Higgins Hall, home of the 
architecture department. Another wrote an article in a student newspaper expressing 
his frustration with the low turnout of faculty: "But, where were the rest of the facul- 
ty? They were invited to attend, free, and that included lunch. I wonder how much 
they know or care about universal design." A fifth-year architecture student conveyed 
his growing awareness of the inaccessibility of much of New York City with a drawing 
in which lower Manhattan is shown as unreachable canyons, mesas, and buttes. 

Two outcomes from the teach-ins have the potential to reach many faculty across 
the city who might never have been able to attend a teach-in. 

First, the two teach-ins inspired the organization of the Pratt Universal Design 
Resource Center where faculty and students can borrow videotapes, slides, books, and 
other written material on the subject. The Resource Center is not an actual room but 
rather an entity representing the cooperation between such existing resources as the 
Pratt Library, CADRE, and the Multi-Media Center, which is part of METRO, a film 
coop shared among two hundred New York City regional colleges and universities. 
Faculty have suggested titles and assisted in procuring materials. The lending policies 
already in place at Pratt support continued advances in media communication con- 
cerning universal design and the sharing of vast resources among cooperating institu- 
tions and campuses in the metropolitan area. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 97 

Chapter 14: Pratt Institute 

Second, what began as the development of a bibliography of films, 
plays, poetry, and literature that address universal design, is leading to ques- 
tions within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences on language and writing 
concerning universal design. At the first teach-in there was discussion 
about the conect terminology to use in classes throughout the Institute. As 
Professor Richard Perry put it, "We usually examine vocabulary which 
comes out of context, but with 'universal design' the language defines the 
context." To this end, how we write about universal design may indicate 
our prejudices, misinformation, or learning. In the Fall 1994 semester, some 
team members are forming a creative writing workshop for "keeping a jour- 
nal" to examine the past year's activities concerning universal design. 

The inaccessible canyons, 
mesas, and buttes of New 
York City. 


While no formal evaluations were done, Pratt received a number of responses 
from participants. One student had the following insights about the teach-in. 

The results were shocking: most buildings are inaccessible to the physically handi- 
capped, and what few accommodations are provided, such as elevators and ramps, 
are more or less dysfunctional. Even more surprising was the reaction of the stu- 
dents: instead of general apathy some people may expect from us, what we 
received was some very constructive criticism and even a few well thought-out solu- 
tions to the problem of accessibility. 

One student submitted a design for a ramp leading from street level into Higgins 
Hall, the architecture building about to undergo renovation. Some other students 
worked collectively to design suspension ramps that could connect the mezzanine 
levels of Higgins Hall to main floors. These efforts, combined with allocation of 
funds which are actually available for just these purposes, would make for a much 
more education-oriented environment, one in which your concern is which class 
you want to take, not which classes you are able to get to. 

Stephan Klein, a faculty member in Interior Design, attended both events and 
described the important and difficult questions raised in his mind about the cultural 
politics of universal design. 


'Teaching the Teachers" 

The question is, where do you go from here? . . . What happens when Universal 
Design isn't good for business? How is Universal Design being transformed, how is 
it being used, as all phenomena are when they enter the public sphere? 

How will Universal Design effect aesthetic values? Will we need to change our val- 
ues? Or, is a Universal Design aesthetic already being used to sell our products and 
places even when these are not really universally accessible? 

What are the limits to "Universality?" The definition of disability is, like most other 
definitions, socially and historically influenced. As such, it is constantly changing 
and under constant negotiation by conflicting interests. How is it changing? Is 
Universal Design being used to simply maintain a status quo (despite its claims) or 
can it be a force for significant social change? Is there underlying conflict between 
an association of Universal Design with Modernism's claim to universality and its 
failure to create a socially just world? 

Does Universal Design conflict with the notion of diversity in design? And if so, does 
it align itself with a "reactionary" rather than a "radical" Postmodernism (to para- 
phrase Hal Foster)? Does Universal Design represent a challenge and an opportuni- 
ty to bring diverse groups together towards meaningful social change? How can 
Universal Design raise consciousness? Are we creating a Universal Design "canon?" 
If so, what is it? Is this good or bad? Does this process really keep the disabled mar- 
ginalized, defined as "other, " disempowered and unable to participate in the 
process of change? 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 99 

Purdue University — West Lafayette, IN 

Department of Landscape Architecture 

"Engaging Universal Design Program-wide" 


Our objective was to implement a three-tiered approach toward universal design 
education in the Landscape Architecture program: 

• Create and implement a course in universal design awareness and application 
that is a centerpiece of education for the design departments on campus. 

• Integrate universal design application across the existing Landscape 
Architecture curriculum. 

• Export universal design awareness and application to other parts of the land- 
scape architecture profession through the existing landscape architecture 
internship program. 


A pilot version of an eight-week, one-credit course, entitled "Design for Diversity" 
was offered during the second half of the fall 1993 semester. Although the course 
was planned and supervised by faculty from the Landscape Architecture program, an 
attempt was made to attract students from the various design curricula at Purdue. 

The course consisted of a series of two-hour lecture and discussion sessions 
which featured Purdue faculty and guest speakers with expertise in various aspects of 
universal design. All of the lectures had required reading, either in the form of class 
materials or as handouts brought by guest lecturers. The presentations were video- 
taped as a resource for future use. Several of the speakers had disabilities and stu- 
dents found their insights particularly illuminating and challenging. In-class discus- 
sions sprang both from the content of these lectures and from assigned readings. 

In keeping with the philosophy that universal design must not be viewed as sepa- 
rate from other design activities, the Landscape Architecture faculty attempted to incor- 
porate these concepts across the existing curriculum. A template for making the nec- 
essary changes to syllabi was given to faculty in the form of a faculty guidebook prior 
to the 1993 fall semester. The guidebook made suggestions for incorporating univer- 
sal design concepts into each course in the program. 

Team members: 

Bernie Dahl 

Co-leader and Assistant 

Frank Dunbar 

Co-leader and Visiting 

Philip E DeTurk 

Associate Professor 
Harrison L Flint 

Donald J. Molnar 

Gregory M. Pierceall 

Virginia L Russell 

Assistant Professor 
Kenneth A. Schuette, Jr. 

Adjunct Professor 
Rob Sovinski 

Assistant Professor 
Rachel B. Ramadhyani 

Student Assistant 

Strategies for Teaching i niversal Design 1 1 

Chapter 15: Purdue University 

Purdue's UDEP Model 

Goals in grey boxes were 
either incompletely accom- 
plished or are still in 



















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To meet the goal of exporting universal design to the larger professional commu- 
nity, a Coop Guidebook for Universal Design was developed. The guidebook will 
accompany student interns (those who have completed the Junior sequence) in their 
year-long coop employment positions in both private and public design offices. 
Faculty anticipate that the presence of the students and the suggestions detailed in the 
Guidebook will lead to discussions and seminars within these work settings and that 
the philosophy of universal design will be spread throughout the profession. 


As the centerpiece of the project, the Design for Diversity course was very suc- 
cessful. The eight-week course was offered to all the design departments on campus 
and any student already taking a full course load was able to add the class mid- 
semester without paying additional tuition. Eighty-five students registered for the 
class, including two interior designer majors, six graphic design majors, and two prod- 
uct design majors. The balance of the class was landscape architecture majors. 
Enrollment by nonlandscape students proved to be relatively low and more vigorous 
attempts at campus-wide outreach will be undertaken in future years. Landscape 
architecture faculty not only encouraged their students to enroll in the course, but 
attended the lectures themselves. 


'Engaging Universal Design Program-wide" 

The series of guest lectures offered within the course was successful in 
meeting the main objective of the class, which was to stimulate awareness 
of the need for universal design application. Students were particularly 
engaged by speakers who themselves had major disabilities and could 
demystify 7 topics which are ordinarily taboo in our culture. 

The lectures were complemented by a sensory awareness workshop, in 
which teams of two students simulated disabilities and followed a pre- 
scribed route around the campus. One of the students used a wheelchair; 
the other wore special glasses to simulate legal blindness. The five different 
routes were purposefully selected to take student teams through a range of 
easy and difficult experiences. Afterwards, each student reflected on the 
experience by answering the following questions: 

• What was your initial reaction to assuming an artificial disability? 

• What was the most difficult or frustrating about being in a wheel- 

• What was the most difficult or frustrating about being visually 

• What architectural barrier was the most bothersome? 

• Did you encounter any attitudinal barriers? Explain. 

• Did this experience heighten your awareness of disabilities? If so. 

Most noticeable in students' comments is a new awareness and better under- 
standing of individuals with disabilities. In many cases, the language used in their 
comments reflects a "we" rather than "they" approach. It appears that rapid changes 
in attitude can be achieved by placing temporarily able-bodied persons in the position 
of those who experience the physical environment differently. 

Consultant who is blind 
demonstrating tactile 
appreciation of scultpure 
during Design for Diversity 

Student usmg a wheelchair 
accompanied by faculty- 
simulating blindness as 
part of sensory awareness 

The sensory awareness workshop, which many students viewed as a conceptual 
turning-point during the Design for Diversity course, evoked the following comments. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design i 03 

Chapter 15: Purdue University 

I felt alone. It was so frustrating being left out of conversations while our group 
was deciding on which way to go. It felt like they didn 1 even see me , and I was 
the one who was blind. 

I suppose the two biggest [frustrations] were that I was unable to go where I wanted, 
how I wanted, and someone had mapped out certain places I could go. I was 
unable to use the bathrooms in many buildings. That's not just frustrating but 

The most important part is not to be made to feel 'special. ' If you are able to easily 
use the entrance [in] the same manner that the rest of the public uses [it] you are 
not made to feel estranged. 

I feel you cannot design for disabilities until you experience it for yourself . In my 
experience [with the workshop] there were countless things that I never would have 
even considered otherwise. 

I think that the saying, 'Put yourself in my shoes' is really a shocking statement 
because you actually have to put yourself in the position to see what type of respons- 
es you get from people and also what barriers you would encounter. 

All in all probably the most frustrating barrier in a [wheeljchair is simply that the 
minimum has not been achieved. What I mean by this is that it would be one thing 
if it were a rough ride somewhere, but most places it is virtually impossible to get 
to — even if it's signed.... By being able to design through the eyes of those who are 
physically challenged I feel that it does not detract from my design abilities because 
it simply makes the design stronger and able to be used by a greater number of the 

I think I realize now that minimum acceptable standards are not necessarily good 
or easy or even comfortable. 

Throughout our life, we will not always be as able-bodied as we are now, and per- 
ceptions of people with disabilities need to change within ourselves so that we will 
be prepared for our own disabilities. 


"Engaging Universal Design Program-wide' 

Students also commented on the Design for Diversity course, in general: 

The best thing about this course was when the guest speakers had some sort of dis- 
ability. It was interesting to hear their views on the problems of accessibility. 

The class gave me the new perspective I've gained that has affected my whole life in 
a very short time. 

I realize how little professionals know about universal design. This course should be 
a required facet of the design sequence. 

Faculty expected that work produced in the Landscape Architecture classes taught 
in the fall semester of 1993 would reflect the changing attitudes learned in the Design 
for Diversity course. They hoped that, in the eight weeks that the course overlapped 
with other studio activities, students would apply universal design to their fall semester 
projects. In classes where physical design drawings or construction drawings were 
the primary product, students were moderately successful. In classes producing plan- 
ning documents or graphics, the connection to universal design was weaker. The 
information presented in the Design for Diversity class could be particularly well- 
incorporated into the junior level design project programming process. 

Speakers for the Design for Diversity course visited other Landscape Architecture 
classes as guest experts. Students in those classes learned a great deal from these 
additional opportunities for interaction and discussion. Students and community resi- 
dents with disabilities were not engaged as consultants for studio projects during the 
1993-1994 school year. Their involvement would have provided feedback throughout 
the design process and may be the crucial link between an intellectual appreciation of 
the importance of universal design and its application in practical settings. 

UDEP has continued to be implemented beyond the fall 1993 course offering. 
The 1994 spring semester classes in Landscape Architecture were taught using the uni- 
versal design approach. The results of those classes, coupled with the efforts of the 
fall semester, will provide a fuller indication of the awareness gained by the students 
in the Design for Diversity course. The Design for Diversity course will be offered 
again during the second half of the fall 1994 semester. 

The other ongoing portion of the project is the outreach effort by student interns. 
Students are currently preparing a Coop Guidebook for Universal Design, a vehicle to 
disseminate the concepts of universal design to professional practitioners. The 
Guidebook draws upon a highly successful project undertaken by students in the 
junior-level Site Construction class in the fall of 1993- The booklet describes the basic 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 105 

Chapter 1 5: Purdue University 

objectives of universal design, outlines an approach to interviewing clients to elicit 
unique needs, and offers suggestions for envisioning new design solutions. 


At the time of the initial project proposal, the Landscape Architecture faculty was 
in unanimous support of the project and in agreement with the importance of incor- 
porating universal design across the curriculum. Although that support never 
wavered, there was variation in the extent to which these concepts actually permeat- 
ed the classroom and studio experience. While several faculty members highlighted 
these concepts throughout their courses and articulated them explicitly at every 
opportunity, others found it more difficult to modify their established patterns of 
teaching. The following list of courses indicates how faculty incorporated universal 
design into the fall 1993 curriculum. 

IA 101 — Introduction to Landscape Architecture. The concept of universal 
design was discussed and the Universal Design video was shown. The class met its 

IA 116 — Graphic Communication for Landscape Architects. Although the 
class does not specifically lend itself to universal design, sketch work opens the stu- 
dent's eyes to seeing the world around them differently. The goal of enhancing stu- 
dents' appreciation for the role of textures in universal design was not carried out. 
The class minimally met its goals. 

LA 166— History of Landscape Architecture. The thorny issue of design adap- 
tation of historic structures and gardens was apparently not addressed. The class did 
not meet its goals. 

LA 216 — Landscape Architecture Design I. An introduction to the design 
process (problem, analysis, and solution approach) is a part of the normal content of 
this class. The class met its goals. 

LA 316 — Landscape Architectural Design in. The class syllabus placed univer- 
sal design in a central position. All projects drew on an awareness of universal 
design concepts which were incorporated with sustainable design and environmental 
considerations. The class met its goals. 


"Engaging Universal Design Program-wide'* 

LA 325— -Planting Design. Although the macro-scale planting design approach 
used in this course does not specifically mesh with universal design solutions, two of 
the group projects emphasized universal design in their final reports. Most important- 
ly, the two projects, one for Zionsville, Indiana, and one for Shelbyville, Indiana, were 
real projects with government clients. The class met its goals. 

LA 346 — Site Systems IL This class included a major project in universal design. 
The instructor developed a project which included writing individual user profiles of 
the twenty-six workers at the client corporation. Twenty-four of the twenty-six had 
some kind of permanent or temporary disability, ranging from a sprained ankle to loss 
of limbs. Students interviewed the users with a standard set of questions and com- 
piled the responses into a database which guided their design. The students handled 
the programming effort well, but the resulting design projects were uninspired. The 
class met its goals, but more potential could have been realized. 

LA 4l6 — Urban Design. Two historic urban renovation projects were undertak- 
en in Chicago, one of which was coordinated with teams of architects, sculptors, and 
other designers. While the class was successful at incorporating universal design into 
an urban setting, the scale of the design solutions was too large to permit specifics to 
be visible. 

LA 516 — Regional Design. The scale of the projects in this class was also too 
large to address some of the details, but the concepts of universal design were includ- 
ed in project discussions. 

The success of the outreach to professional practitioners through coop students 
cannot yet be assessed, as this effort is in its infancy. 


The activities encompassed by UDEP at Purdue during the 1993-1994 school year 
have planted a seed which can be expected to bear increasing fruit in years to come. 
Students in Landscape Architecture, particularly those who participated in the Design 
for Diversity course, have undergone a momentous change in their attitude toward 
issues of universal design. Concepts which felt somewhat awkward and foreign when 
initially introduced became almost reflexive by the following semester, as the language 
of universal design became more fully integrated into everyday parlance of students 
and facultv. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 07 

Chapter 1 5: Purdue University 

Given the time constraints of the course and the expected diversity of the enroll- 
ment, there was little opportunity to move from the general level of consciousness- 
raising to the more specific level of design details. Although such activities might be 
best addressed within the context of each program's studio design courses, student 
feedback indicated some need to bring the explored concepts to a more practical 
level. Students did suggest the incorporation into the course of more practical design 
information and projects, thereby solidifying the link between theory and practice. 
The placement of the course in the second half of the fall semester was unfortunate, 
as students had little opportunity to put the principles learned into immediate 

It is likely that, as time passes and the faculty's comfort level with the concepts of 
universal design grows, the inclusion of these concepts in all aspects of teaching will 
increase. The faculty guidebook, which recommended changes or additions to each 
course, is a template for exposing students in increasing degrees to the concept of 
universal design. It may have been overly optimistic to expect radical changes to be 
made in all classes. A year later, however, some course syllabi still do not yet address 
the concept of universal design. While some students are well exposed to both the 
concept and the application of universal design, others are receiving little encourage- 
ment to integrate the objectives of universal design into their thinking. 

In studio design courses, universal design principles appeared to be most readily 
incorporated at the stage of project concepts. Incorporating universal design into the 
final stages of design appeared to be more challenging and less successful, at least 
within courses taught in the fall semester of 1993- Universal design principles seemed 
to "sink in" more fully by the spring semester, and they were stressed quite consis- 
tently by both faculty and students in several spring core courses. Further faculty 
education may be necessary to ease the introduction of these concepts into the well- 
trodden grooves in which some courses are taught. 

Pre-class and post-class feedback from students in the Design for Diversity class 
indicated a marked linguistic and attitudinal change. At the beginning of the class, 
some students demonstrated indifferent or unknowing attitudes toward individuals 
with disabilities, while others reported significant experiences with people having var- 
ious types of abilities. By the end of the class, a change in attitude was apparent, 
with individuals with disabilities no longer viewed as special people with access 
problems but as part of the spectrum of users served by good design. Students 
ceased to regard universal design as necessary for "others" and made the conceptual 
leap to understanding its applicability to "all of us." Many spoke of the importance of 
avoiding an attitude toward disabled individuals as different or special and some 
mentioned a new respect for the determination those individuals show in overcoming 
significant cultural and physical challenges. 


'Engaging Universal Design Program-wide' 

Most participants felt that the highlight of the course was the two-hour sensory 
awareness workshop. Comments after this workshop indicated that participants had 
experienced a conceptual breakthrough in the form of a new level of understanding 
of the importance and nuances of universal design. Participants felt that extending 
this workshop to include additional disabilities or to span an entire day might enhance 
the realism of the experience. The powerful impact of the hands-on experience sug- 
gests that this workshop might be a useful exercise to bring into a variety of settings, 
including professional offices and public agencies. 

It is not enough to rely on an able-bodied professor to convey to students the 
needs of a wide range of people with differing abilities. The use of consultants in the 
classroom was unfortunately limited to the guest speakers in the Design for Diversity 
course. At this point, no other course has drawn upon the services of individuals with 
disabilities to provide feedback and suggestions during the development of design 
projects. In short, the human element of universal design was, for the most part, lack- 
ing. This omission may be part of the reason the students' work showed a lack of 
innovation. The involvement of such consultants, especially students with disabilities 
from the campus or the local community, will certainly add a significant dimension to 
student understanding of the nuances of individual needs. Students who have several 
years left within the Landscape Architecture program and who are regularly exposed 
to such experiences are likely to become fluent with universal design principles by 
the time they enter the professional world. 

Although not all of the objectives were met, the program clearly opened the 
eyes, minds, and hearts of students and faculty alike in the Purdue community. The 
more far-reaching effects of the program will only become apparent with the passage 
of time. The Design for Diversity course will be offered again in the fall 1994 semes- 
ter and the Landscape Architecture curriculum will continue to be modified to better 
reflect current thinking in universal design. Even more significantly, the graduates and 
intern students of Purdue's Landscape Architecture program will affect the thinking of 
the profession of landscape architecture by providing a wider awareness of the need 
for universal design as the way to design. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 09 

Ringling School of Art and Design — Sarasota, FL 

Department of Interior Design 

"A Workbook Students Can Use Forever" 


Ringling proposed to develop a workbook on universal design issues so that any 
student could apply the concept in any design class, independent of faculty direction. 
The plan was to introduce and test the workbook in ID 365, Space Planning I, in the 
fall of 1993- This activity would be accompanied by a workshop for all faculty and 
students in the interior design department and the introduction of an advisory board 
of people with disabilities. By introducing people with disabilities as consultants, stu- 
dents would be exposed to how people with physical challenges feel about the limits 
of the built environment around them and to the implications of their design deci- 
sions. These discoveries would lead students to develop new guidelines for their pro- 
ject solutions. They would use the newly created worksheets in the classroom and 
then be able to use these worksheets independently for other projects, both real and 
hypothetical. The goal was to create a method that interior design educators could 
use to easily integrate universal design into their studio classes. The workbook's title 
would be RIDDLE, an acronym for Ringling Interior Designers Design for Life 
Enrichment, to remind its users of its beneficial goal. 

Funding limitations reduced the scope of this proposal but not the emphasis. The 
revised proposal had two parts: 

• To plan and conduct a workshop or seminar for both faculty and students on 
what universal design is and why it is important; and 

• To develop a universal design worksheet for students to reinforce what they 
have learned and to serve as a guideline for solutions to their design projects. 

Team members: 

Ruth Beals 

Susan Behar 



A workshop for all interior design students and faculty was scheduled for 
September 1993- The goals were to have the attendees become aware of what uni- 
versal design is, to have them experience their own prejudices and bias toward peo- 
ple who are physically challenged, to have them meet physically challenged commu- 
nity members who could sensitize them to universal design issues, and to introduce 
the RIDDLE worksheet and its application. Susan Behar would assist me and commu- 
nity members would attend, primarily to talk with the students and faculty about 
being physically challenged and how interiors affect them. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I I I 

Chapter 16: Ringling School of Art and Design 

"The QOCll of the worksheets We P^ anne< ^ to recruit enough community members to have someone 

for each of several groups. The community members would be advocates 
was to provide a tool that f supporting independence for people with disabilities, or boardmembers 

Students and faculty could ° r em P lo y ees of ™ e Ma y° r ' s C ° uncil for Peo P le with Disabilities, The 

Easter Seal Society, The Center for Independent Living, Manasota 

use to record accessibility Lighthouse for the Blind, Goodwill Industries, and the Sarasota Memorial 

. . , Hospital Rehabilitation Unit. 

issues, solutions, ana 

products. . . The first activity of the workshop would be surveying the attendees on 

their knowledge of the needs of the physically challenged. Our hypothesis 
was that few students and faculty have had relationships with people who are physi- 
cally challenged and that many harbor prejudice and bias. By tabulating the respons- 
es immediately we could use the results to stimulate group discussion. 

We planned for Susan Behar to introduce universal design, its philosophy, and 
applications in a slide presentation. This would lead to roundtable discussions on the 
five A's of good accessible design as set forth by Susan: Attitudes, Accessibility, 
Affordabiliry, Adaptability, and Aesthetics. The final activity of the workshop would 
be to introduce the RIDDLE worksheet. 

The goal of the worksheets was to provide a tool that students and faculty could 
use to record accessibility issues, solutions, and products, thereby producing a guide- 
line to use during the design process and to have for future reference. Faculty could 
easily use this tool in their classes by having students identify the issues and their res- 
olution during the project analysis or programming phase of design. They could then 
record additional ideas, solutions, and products used during the space planning and 
design documentation phases. 

The acronym RIDDLE is used for several reasons. The word riddle implies fun — 
a puzzle or mystery to solve. The acronym is faster and easier to say than "universal 
design worksheet." The phrase within the acronym "design for life enrichment" rein- 
forces the goal. Interior designers need to be reminded of the capacity we have to 
enrich people's lives. The built environment is ours to design and we must always 
seek to integrate the positive elements in life; to design not just for adequate health, 
safety, and welfare — but soar above the banal, and create respect, dignity, spiritual 
uplifting, social responsibility, and beauty. 

The worksheet has three sections. The first section identifies the student, project, 
project type, scope of services, and end users. The second section covers universal 
design considerations and recommendations, and is subdivided into the physical 
building components (floors, walls, doors, etc.) and their finishes. The third section is 
for recording noteworthy solutions and important products used. Students fill in their 
findings for each section during the applicable phases of the class project. 


"A Workbook Students Can Use Forever** 


In early September, I requested funding from the Department of Interior Design to 
cover some of the workshop costs, but I was not persuasive enough and funding was 
not made available. Previously, the department had sponsored a speaker on accessi- 
bility and several students had told the department head that the presentation was bor- 
ing. The possibility of this outcome had been identified in Key Obstacles to 
Implementing Objectives of the Universal Design Education Project, a handout at the 
UDEP colloquium. 

My teaching assignment for fall semester was the third-year studio course, ID 365, 
Interior Design III, dedicated to an in-depth design project focusing on health care 
design. The design project was an Ob/Gyn clinic for two doctors, one of whom uses 
a cane and, when tired, a wheelchair. Because the doctor requires complete accessi- 
bility for herself, the class had to take this project beyond the requirements of codes 
and ADA to meet the client's needs. The course syllabus included reviewing the inte- 
rior designer's contract for services, program writing, space planning/schematic design, 
developing presentations, and producing some working drawings. Universal design 
was explored through the RIDDLE worksheets. 

The workshop had been planned to support the programming phase of this class. 
Three videos were used as a substitute for the workshop. Two were produced by the 
National Easter Seal Society, Nobody is Burning Wheelchairs and Part of the Team — 
External Vision. They feature people with physical challenges in the workplace. The 
third was about seeing-eye dogs. It described the training program for dogs and their 
owners and how the dogs offer their owners mobility and independence. Short dis- 
cussions followed each viewing. The students responded to the courage and determi- 
nation of the people in the films. Prejudice, bias, design constraints, dignity, and 
respect were the main topics of the discussions. 

The programming phase also included research on the standard building codes, 
ADA, and accessibility. The students were required to develop a written guideline that 
summarized the applicable codes and ADA requirements and to make recommenda- 
tions for universal design solutions. This guideline would be used during the design 
development phase. 

The first two sections of the RIDDLE worksheet were completed from the pro- 
gramming information. Many students copied the sheets into their wordprocessors, 
making them easier to fill-out and giving them a very professional appearance. 

Paul Grayson, our UDEP advisor, had been scheduled to speak at the workshop. 
Instead, we arranged for him to make a presentation to the second- and third-year stu- 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 1 3 

Chapter 16: Ringling School of Art and Design 

The RIDDLE Worksheet 
developed for UDEP and 
used in Interior Design LU, 
Fall 1993-94. This work- 
sheet has been filled out by 
a student (nonbold text rep- 
resents the student s entries). 

Ringling Interior Designers Design for Life Enrichment (KIDDIE) 
Universal Design Work Sheet 

Student name: 
Project name: 
Project type: 

Cindy Davis 

Sarasota OB/GYN Clinic 




Areas involved: Lobby, waiting, reception and office, accountant's office, 
office manager's office, staff lounge, meeting room, nurses' stations, laboratory, 
exam rooms, 2 doctors' offices, public and staff rest rooms 

Scope of services: Programming, space planning, design/decorate, presenta- 
tion, working drawings — floor plan, elevations, ceiling plan 

A. People/users (residents, staff, clients, patrons, guests, etc) 
Age: 12 % under 18; 70 % under 40; 15 % under 70; 2 % over 70 
Gender: 90 % female; 10 % male 

Special attributes: Women clients are often in pain; and may be pregnant- 
requiring more space for them, more support from chairs to raise themselves, 
close access to rest rooms. They also may be apprehensive about their exami- 
nation due to inexperience or to a fear of a health condition. Clients may also 
be physically challenged. Dr. Rusk is physically challenged and uses a cane, 
and will use a walker or a wheelchair when tired. 

B- Universal design considerations and recommendations 
Entry: Graphically discernible, level flooring, provides view to lobby/recep- 
Doors: 32" to 36" wide. 

Hardware: Openers to be latches — no knobs. Easy to open — 8 lb. pressure 
or less. 

Windows: Able to be opened, attractive, sound absorptive. Visually softening 
treatments that allow privacy and glare prevention where needed. 
Hardware: No knobs, should be able to open with "clenched fist." Treatment 
should be able to be operated from a 34"-48" height. 

Flooring: Level or ramped, no thresholds higher than 1/2"; contrasting bor- 
ders, textures, and/or colors to define where flooring ends or to indicate differ- 
ent areas — such as private or public, waiting or lobby. 
Finishes: Non-skid, easy to maintain, no high gloss, select textures or pat- 
terns to provide interest and hide soilage, anti-microbial carpet o.k. for exams. 
Resilient tile or ceramic tile for rest rooms and lounge. Carpet should be low 
level loop. 

Walls: Surface should be pleasant to touch and look at, consider height above 
ceiling for better acoustical privacy in Drs.' offices, exam rooms, nurses' sta- 
tions and meeting room; add handrails in hallway and Dr. Rusk's office. 
Contrasting borders will provide definition to wall areas and chair rails will 


'A Workbook Students Can Use Forever" 

protect wall from damage. Add corner guards and lower wall protection where 

Finishes: Paint, wall coverings, paneling; colors should support activity and 
desired mood for the area. 

Celling; Acoustical, cleanable, interesting to look at — especially in exam rooms. 
Finishes: Painted dry wall, acoustical tile, decorative acoustical tile, incorpo- 
rate trim or structural materials if applicable. 

Trim: Use to identify areas, provide contrast. Use where different materials 

Finishes: Painted or stained wood, metal door and window casing if neces- 
sary. Easy to clean. 

Rest Rooms: Accessible, easy to clean, analyze each for the best location for 
the fixtures, etc. Go beyond code, ADA if possible. Provide storage for sup- 
plies used to establish proper sight lines for privacy. One must provide "fami- 
ly" usage. 

Lighting: Minimize use of recessed or ceiling mounted fixtures in exam room, 
Provide no glare lighting throughout. Levels should be adjustable. Incorporate 
structural lighting. Controls to be at accessible heights and locations. 
Way Finding: Illuminated signage where required and where applicable, fol- 
low ADA guidelines for signage. Color and/or textures used to define specific 
area — different door colors or flooring changes. Lay-out to support traffic pat- 
terns, minimize back-tracking. Receptionist should be visible from entry. 
Private areas should be remote from public and/or clearly identified. 
Acoustics: Privacy should be maintained — see wails, ceilings, and window 

Seating: Client seating - stable, with arms, pain waiting needs sofa and chair. 
Children's height for waiting play area. Staff — ergonomic. Lounge — lightweight 
and easy to move. Finishes should be easy to maintain, attractive, medium to 
light tone, and textured or patterned to hide soilage. 
Tables: Adjustable height preferred. Pedestal support preferred. 
Counters: Reception and pay counters must have a standing height and a 
seated heigth area. Heights must be customized for use and end-users — mostly 
women. Dr. Rusk's exam rooms, her office, and the lounge must allow use of 

Cabinetry: Low enough in Dr. Rusk's exam room for her to access when in 

Fixtures: 19" h. in rest rooms. 

Equipment: Placement must be accessible from wheelchair. 
Other: Gooseneck faucets with paddle controls. 

Noteworthy solutions and products used: Hafele door latches, Lutron rock- 
er switches, American Standard toilets and sinks, Borders lead into rooms, 
flooring finish changes at entry (from foyer), and into r. r.'s and lounge. 
Custom work station for Dr. Rusk to accomodate wheelchair. Hand rail system 
in corridor. Entire office wheelchair accessible. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 15 

Chapter 1 6: Ringling School of Art and Design 

dents, the majority of our department's enrollment. ^We also sent invitations to twen- 
ty-one community members and designers. At the same time, a noted reporter from 
our local newspaper, the Sarasota Herald Tribune, was researching an article on 
accessible housing design. The article appeared in the Sunday edition one week 
before Grayson's presentation and mentioned the presentation date and location. As 
a result, several additional community members attended. 

More videos were shown to the class to prepare for Grayson's visit. A film pro- 
duced by Barrier Free Lifts, entitled Helping You to Achieve Greater Mobility, demon- 
strated people using a lift product that is integrated into a ceiling track in their homes. 
This was a good choice because none of the students were aware of this product. 
The film Toward Universal Design was also shown. Class discussion followed both 

Grayson's visit included lunch with several faculty and stimulated a discussion on 
the ethics of design. The luncheon was held in the department's critique room where 
work-in-progress on the Ob/Gyn clinic was displayed. His lecture on universal 
design, especially the accompanying slides of applications and products, inspired the 
entire audience. Attendance included a few faculty, the students, Susan Behar, and 
community guests — the facilities architect from the city hospital, two counselors from 
Florida's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and some practicing alumni. The 
only disappointment was the absence of people who are physically challenged. 

The students completed their RTDDUE worksheets for the presentation of the 
schematic phase of the health care project. Students were very conscientious about 
using what they had learned, following their RIDDLE worksheet guidelines, using the 
principles and elements of design, and following guidelines on the use of color that 
they had researched in the programming phase. The worksheets were turned in with 
the projects and a percentage of their grade was based on the accuracy 7 and com- 
pleteness of the information contained in those worksheets. 

The final phase for the semester, producing working drawings, was an additional 
opportunity to use the RIDDLE worksheets. Many of the students had recorded verti- 
cal dimensions in the second section. These were now used to complete the 
required elevations of the restrooms, doctor's office, and exam rooms. Students who 
had not recorded the dimensions found themselves back in the library repeating earli- 
er research and copying guidelines. 


"A Workbook Students Can Use Forever" 


Organizing this project, showing and discussing the videos, inviting a guest speak- 
er, and using the RIDDLE worksheets did not take a lot of time or money. 1 Students 
learn a great deal from videos and speakers. They respond well to teaching aids that 
go beyond teachers' notes and the blackboard, especially those that explain how inte- 
rior design effects people's movement through the built environment. 

The RIDDLE worksheet saved time during the grading process because students' 
work could be evaluated against the guidelines they had developed. The RIDDLE 
worksheets can be adapted for use in other studio design projects as well as actual 
projects. If faculty encouraged their use it would encourage students to retain and 
apply universal design concepts over time. 

The one goal that was not satisfactorily met was having community members par- 
ticipate in sensitizing students. Luckily, many of the students know and have classes 
with students who are physically challenged. Although this unstructured knowledge 
does not fulfill the classroom goal, at least the students are exposed to and able to 
interact with students different from themselves. 

The methods used in this class to communicate universal design can easily be 
incorporated into any or all classroom projects by any faculty member in interior 
design and architecture departments. This project underscores the importance of 
including the awareness of people with physical challenges as active end-users within 
classroom design projects. Asking students to design for all types of people is the best 
way to sensitive them to the entire community that designers serve. 


1. Videos are easily obtained from the National Easter Seal Society ($18.00 each 
from our local office), other organizations, and manufacturers (Barrier Free Lifts, 1-800- 
582-8732, sent its free). 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 1 7 

SUNY Buffalo— Buffalo, NY 

Department of Architecture 

"Studio Education through Universal Design" 


It is our contention that universal design is not a content or skill area of design 
education. Rather, it is a mode of thinking and an attitude that engages many content 
areas and skills. To perceive universal design as a technical specialty would only limit 
the realization of the idea. We sought to fully integrate universal design into our cur- 
riculum in a way that will improve the teaching of architecture in general. We believe 
this can best be accomplished by using universal design to engage students and facul- 
ty in a critical dialogue about the nature of architecture as a social construction. This 
is at the heart of the universal design idea. 

More and more, society is not willing to let professional subcultures define "good 
design" on their own. The development of barrier-free design and its evolution into 
universal design demonstrates how cultural forces can redefine the object and social 
context of design, often in resistance to the established professional position. We 
used universal design to challenge traditional and emerging professional perspectives 
and examine the limits of expert knowledge. 

Team members: 

Edward Steinfeld 

Jason Hagin 

Teaching Assistant 
Gary Day 

Associate Professor 
Theodore Lowne 

Todd Marsh 

Visiting Assistant Professor 
Ole Mourrcsen 

Visiting Professor of 

Landscape Architecture 
Abir Mullick 

Assistant Professor (Design) 

An essential focus of our activities was the definition of good design. We took 
the position that good design is socially constructed and user-centered. Good design 
is discovered through a process of reflective dialogue with the intended users. By 
reflecting on the design project from the perspective of building users, the designer 
imagines what it would be like to use the design. This imaginative process is differ- 
ent than mere translation of user needs. It involves the personal interpretations of the 
designer. This process unleashes creative thinking and a search for forms that 
embody the designer's interpretations. Through argumentation, the designer investi- 
gates and resolves the appropriateness of the forms, technical issues, and other con- 
cerns. Engaging in universal design requires the designer's commitment to a dialogue 
with users, to bridge the social gap between the designer and the ultimate client — the 
end user. But, such engagement cannot neglect the imaginative process. Without it, 
the designer would merely be a technician following instructions. 

Most design students and faculty are temporarily able-bodied, young or middle- 
aged, white, and male. Issues related to disability and age are not well-represented in 
their consciousness. Women; members of racial, religious, and ethnic minorities: and 
gays and lesbians are also generally "outsiders." Practicing universal design implies 
overcoming these gaps in design consciousness. Universal design helps professional 
designers (including educators) learn how to engage questions of difference — an 
increasingly important aspect of contemporary design practice. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 1 9 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

In addition to the broader goals of teaching universal design concepts and user 
diversity, we had several specific educational objectives: 

• Avoid a "special" emphasis; 

• Take a critical position; 

• Emphasize an imaginative, user-centered approach; 

• Bridge the gap of difference; and 

• Engage in an aesthetic debate. 

An essential idea behind our work was that we would not be concerned solely 
with how to teach universal design, but also how to teach design in general. 
Universal design concepts are extremely relevant to contemporary design education, 
not only as a response to disability and aging, but to broader cultural changes that are 
demanding a new approach to professional education. 

Faculty discussion. 


Participants in the project included five faculty members 
teaching two senior-level undergraduate design courses, a sec- 
ond year architectural design studio (four classes of twelve stu- 
dents each) and an interior design studio (fifteen students). A 
sixth faculty member served as a roving guest critic. Four of 
the instructors were architects. The other two were a product 
designer and a landscape architect. One of the architects was a 
part-time instructor with an established practice in Buffalo. The 
landscape architect was an exchange visitor from Denmark. 
One of the architects and the product designer were experts in 
the field of accessible design. 

Twelve consultants, all people with disabilities or older people and from a wide 
variety of backgrounds, were recruited to attend classes and provide critiques. Most 
consultants visited five times. Three or four consultants were assigned to each faculty 
member who coordinated their visits independently. Each studio class had about 
twelve to fifteen consultant visits, although more than one consultant often came to a 
single class. 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

The focus of the semester was the design of a complex of buildings for Artpark, a 
state park devoted to performing and visual arts in Lewiston, NY. The semester was 
structured as a sequence of four related projects. The first of these was a team pro- 
ject; the others were individual efforts. 

In the first project, each team had three weeks to complete an analysis 
of sites for the complex within the Artpark property. Their analysis included 
an investigation and presentation of information on: natural and physical 
systems; legal-political issues; and social, historical, and cultural issues. For 
the second project, about three weeks in length, each student designed a 
cluster of five artist cottages, including working and living space and one 
communal kitchen and dining facility. The third project, lasting about five 
weeks, was the design of a hotel/inn with twenty sleeping rooms, a small 
conference center, a restaurant, outdoor recreation spaces, and support facili- 
ties. The last project, a product design, was completed in two weeks. 
Students chose a building product for the hotel or a travel-related consumer 
product. Some students designed products that would have broader use. 

Three special workshops complemented the design projects: 

Workshop #1, "Thinking Like Others," asked students to simulate having one or 
more disabilities for twelve hours and, drawing from that experience, develop a fic- 
tional biography of a person with similar disabilities. The biographies were revised 
periodically during the semester to reinforce the workshop theme. Students were 
encouraged to project their imaginary users into their designs to explore a different 
perspective. The knowledge students gained from these characterizations also proved 
useful in critiques of other students' work. 

Workshop #2, "Movement and Imagination," explored human movement as a 
source of technical knowledge about building use as aesthetic inspiration. Based on 
the students' experiences simulating disabilities, each student completed a series of 
transformations that lead from observation to built form. 

Workshop #3, "Product Design," was a lecture and four hour sketch problem on 
the universal design of a consumer product. Teams of students, representing imagi- 
nary clients with different types of disabilities, selected an everyday consumer product. 
The students analyzed the products' utility, user-fitness, and visual appeal and pro- 
posed product concepts that would meet the needs of all users. 

Group discussion at a site 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 2 1 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

Universal Product 

Checkers game. 

Universal Product: 


In addition to the standard individual and group critiques, technical 
information was presented in two other formats — a packet of resource 
materials and a series of lectures and field trips. A resource packet was 
provided for each studio and it included the ADA Guidelines, NY State 
Code provisions, and a guidebook on making hotels accessible. The lec- 
ture series was held during class time but was not required. The topics 
were: fitting the building to the site, accessible ramps and bathrooms, 
accessible doors and circulation, and differences in aesthetic values between 
professionals and consumers. Field trips were organized to three local 
hotels with accessible rooms and one with a conference center. 

As a culmination of the UDEP, an Exhibit and Symposium on Universal 
Design was held at the beginning of the following semester. This one-day 
event celebrated the students' work and promoted public discussion of uni- 
versal design. 

Student simulating a 


Workshop #1 — Thinking Like Others. This workshop asked stu- 
dents to simulate having one or more disabilities for a twelve hour period. 
However, there was not enough class time to insure that each student com- 
pleted the simulation as required. Because of the size of the class, we 
could not get enough equipment for everyone to do it at once. The class 
only met for four hours so it was up to the students to complete the addi- 
tional hours. Informal questioning indicated that, while all students proba- 
bly did a simulation on their own, few did it for the full twelve hours. 

Empirical attitudinal studies 1 demonstrate that short disability simulations 
do not change attitudes. They may, in fact, reinforce negative perceptions 
about disability. In hindsight, it would be better to do the simulation briefly 
in class as pan of a problem-solving activity, or not at all. The exercise 
needs to be conducted in small groups and scheduled with adequate time 
for learning adjustment and coping behaviors to begin understanding the 
limitations imposed by a disability. 

Based on their similation experience, students developed fictional 
biographies of people with similar disabilities. Unfortunately, the majority of 
the biographies presented misconceptions about persons with disabilities. 
They dwelt on traumatic and dramatic accidents and tragically debilitating ill- 
nesses. On the whole they presented made-for-TV-movie portraits. 


"Studio Education through Universal Design" 

For example, one student concluded his biography with the following « ^ wou ld fe fetter to do 
statements: "Stan is fighting this [disease] as tenaciously as he can. He's got 

much to live for and maintains a hopeful attitude. " Along similar lines, a the Simulation briefly in 
student described the realization of disability with the words. "I was trans- , ~ , , 

c ac i -a u xa 11 u- a i • " ciass as part of a problem- 

formed from a kid who could walk, run, bike, and swim, to a paraplegic. r J r 

This sort of hopeless-hopefulness and unyielding determination was echoed solving activity Or not at 

in nearly all the imaginary biographies. This is not to belittle the students' 

writing abilities, but rather to suggest that there were other facets to such 

biographical accounts that the students ignored. 

all " 

One student described a football player accidentally paralyzed due to a spinal 
cord injury received during a game. The student explained, "It is a disability that only 
affects him physically, because he is a pleasant person with a positive attitude that is 
not going to let his injury ruin or inhibit his life any more than it has already done." 
With few exceptions, the biographies presented this sort of unreal story. At one 
extreme, a student graphically described a woodsman who amputates his own leg 
after it becomes pinned under a felled tree. This student wrote, "Seven inches below 
his left knee there is nothing except the memory of what he used to be; woodcutter 
extraordinaire. . . Doctors say that with the advancements in medicine today Don 
should be able to lead a perfectly normal life." In many cases, the students presented 
"heroic" representations of disabled persons; "normal" characters tragically flawed, 
overcoming hardship with little grief in order to persevere. 

The tone of some biographies could be interpreted as cynical or satirical, although 
the majority did not take such a stance. Rather than confront their image of a person 
with disabilities through introspection and imagination or by actually interviewing a 
person who has had to live with a disability, most students used a television recipe 
which produced "disability pastiche." Few students created an "imaginary friend" with 
real problems, emotions, and situations. 

Biographies with insightful characterizations offered more substance that had 
design application. For example, one student described questions that probably came 
from meetings with a faculty member or consultant: "How far's the parking from the 
main building?" and "Is there enough room in the bathroom so that I can move 
around without feeling like I'm locked in a trunk?" On a different level, another stu- 
dent wrote of a person who is blind: "In an unfamiliar environment, my ears, sense 
of touch, and smell become a substitute for eyes. I listen and feel, then use those 
existing images in my mind to constitute the whole space." Such representations 
show a thoughtful vision of people, generally, and people with disabilities, specifical- 
ly. Though imaginative, they transcend popular attitudes or past experiences, making 
the character somehow more real, more believable, and more readily accessible. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 123 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

". . . the development of bio- 
graphies was a very good 
way to engage students in 
the imaginative projection 
of other people's needs. " 

The most popular biographic subject was the blind artist or crafts- 
person. In fact, almost all of the biographies were about disabled artists or 
craftspeople. This is interesting since mainstream representations of persons 
with disabilities, as well as current accessibility codes, generally focus on 
persons who use wheelchairs. The popularity of the blind artist as subject 
may be explained as the most obvious way for students to connect a "dis- 
ability" with the program. Only a few biographies used a character who 
was part of the local community. 

In spite of these criticisms, the development of biographies was a very good way 
to engage students in the imaginative projection of other people's needs. We learned 
that biographies require considerable review and discussion to avoid reinforcing 
stereotypes, misconceptions, and unrealistic portrayals of disability. The students con- 
stantly referred to their biographies in developing their designs. But on the evalua- 
tion questionnaire none of the students identified the biographies among the most 
informative resources. 

In retrospect, it would have been more useful for students to interview persons 
with disabilities to learn real stories. A student could then compare what she learned 
from the interview with her beliefs and experiences and with the media's representa- 
tion of people with disabilities. "Educated biographies" would be more informative in 
the design process and lend themselves to re-examination during the course of the 

Workshop #2 — Movement and Imagination. This workshop had three related 
parts: a simulation exercise, a movement exercise, and a "poetic expression" exercise. 

The simulation exercise was very successful. Teams of students, simulating dis- 
abilities, used an adjustable full-scale model of a bathroom to gain first hand experi- 
ence of an inaccessible environment and how design changes can improve accessibil- 
ity. It raised many technical questions and provoked considerable discussion on con- 
struction details and product selection. 

For a number of my students the bathroom simulation had a big impact. In a way 
such simple changes in layout, design, and size brought about changes in think- 
ing. (Day) 

There is no substitute for the knowledge students gain from performing an activity 
in a simulated space. They get exposed to issues only understandable through 
experience in three-dimensional space. Full-scale simulation was a great idea. 


'Studio Education through Universal Design 1 

In the movement exercise, a choreographer engaged students and faculty in exer- 
cises to demonstrate how movement can be designed in an aesthetic sense. It was 
also very well received by both faculty and students. 

The choreographer was excellent in getting everyone to participate and enjoy them- 
selves. She was also able to demonstrate how movements can be 'designed' and 
how all movements can be beautiful if we understand how to perceive the beauty 
in them. (Steinfeld) 

Movement was difficult at times for the students to put into their design in a direct 
way. I think it became a way to discuss aesthetic ideas of movement sequence and 
experience that was different from the directness of the bathroom workshop. (Day) 

In the third part of this workshop, linking the movement experience more directly 
to the design project, students developed a "poetic expression" of a movement related 
to use of the hotel (a poem, graphic, or sculpture). This exercise was not as success- 
ful. Although some students developed ideas they used later in the project, most stu- 
dents found the exercise too burdensome and peripheral. Two of the faculty did not 
put much pressure on their students to do this exercise. 

Workshop #3 — Product Design. This was a successful workshop in all 
respects. Some very interesting ideas for universal design were developed in a very 
short time. Most students brought a great deal of enthusiasm to the design exercise 
and the critique at the end. A few, who had created frivolous and facetious products, 
gave us the opportunity during the critique to convey the seriousness of our intent. 
The exercise was a good introduction to the final project. 

The product design workshop was the best means of communicating the basic prin- 
ciples of universal design. The small scale of the products allowed students to touch, 
feel handle, and make connection with them. This helped them to gain better 
insight into accessibility and universal design. (Mullick) 

Exhibit and Symposium. For this one day event each student designed an 
exhibit to present his or her own work. The exhibit was actually the first design pro- 
ject of the spring semester. The symposium included a lecture and discussion about 
the Americans with Disabilities Act and the lessons learned from the previous semes- 
ter's activities. John Salmen, the UDEP advisor, and Brian Black, an advocate from 
the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA), were the speakers. Several of the 
consultants also attended the symposium. The University News Bureau covered the 
event and wrote a story on it for the media. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 25 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

Hotel design winning 
entry — site model and 
room model. 

Competition. EPVA sponsored a competition to honor the best work of the fall 
studio. While the exhibit was up, a jury that included faculty, John Salmen, Thomas 
Hodney, and an EPVA. representative reviewed the work and assigned awards. 
Monetary awards were given in each of three categories: overall design excellence, 
hotel design, and product design. The awards were announced during the sympo- 
sium and all award recipients were honored during the school's Annual Awards Day. 


Student Attitudes. From the start, most students showed strong interest in the 
topic of universal design. They put a lot of energy into their work and did not voice 
any negative opinions regarding the value of the topic as an educational focus. The 
group as a whole was challenged intellectually by the topic and sought many differ- 
ent ways to incorporate the universal design perspective into their projects. But not 
all students were able to grasp and appreciate the idea. 

Some students were overwhelmed by the term 'universal design' because they 
took it too literally. They felt universal design meant 'designing for everyone,' an 
impossibility. They were not sure if their design could live up to the expectations of 
such a term, and thus, they felt incapable and helpless. 

Even though we tried to expose students to all the issues of universal design, most 
students focused on facilitating movement. They failed to address the broader 
aspects of universal design. (Mullick) 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

Some students clearly harbored negative opinions about the topic but, given that 
the professors had chosen it, they kept these opinions to themselves. As the project 
developed and we started to focus on the details of accessibility, these submerged 
negative attitudes did arise. This happened during the design of the hotel project. In 
our general critique of the cottage projects, faculty pointed out that students had not 
explored thoroughly enough the details of accessibility. We insisted that the hotel 
project address these details and develop them in depth. 

Some students, and this is definitely a minority, reacted against a focus on prosaic 
details like bathroom design. They were interested in the broader issues of aesthet- 
ics, overall building form, site relationships, etc., that they considered to be more 
important. We pushed the students to revise and perfect the bathroom and room 
designs of the hotel units. This resulted in, initially, less emphasis on other issues. 
In one critique several students strongly challenged this emphasis. (Steinfeld) 

The outburst led to an intense, hour-long dialogue in the studio critique between 
several students, two professors, and one consultant. It was illuminating in that the 
negative feelings previously unstated came to the foreground as a few students vent- 
ed their frustration with this change of emphasis from previous studios and deviation 
from their expectations. While it is true that the focus on universal design diverted 
attention that would otherwise be given to design concerns such as structures, con- 
struction, circulation, and aesthetics, the universal design perspective can be viewed as 
a response to the general neglect of accessibility issues in the past. In other words, a 
change in emphasis is needed. 

During that critique we had been particularly hard on the students for not address- 
ing both the universal design issues and the other basic architectural concerns. 
This episode illustrates the problem with -using universal design as the major theme 
of the studio. (Steinfeld) 

Accepting universal design implies the activation of a 'universal consciousness. ' 
Some students voiced criticism of a 'practical' design problem in academic pursuits, 
feeling that this was to be learned later in practice — not in school. (Hagin) 

Often students feel that we faculty are 'doing things ' to them or making them do 
things that interfere with their creativity. It's true with structural requirements, or 
appropriate construction technology, or site constraints. Universal design was some- 
times viewed this way as well. There is always some resistance to the introduction 
of boundaries' or a new overlay in design. (Day) 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 27 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

A student prepares for final 

Critical dialogue about the philosophy of universal design is useful for 
explaining, elaborating, and demonstrating the value of a universal design 
approach. Our teaching assistant felt that this dialogue was missing. 

One faculty member suggested that the name 'universal design' was perhaps a 
Utopian or, at least theoretically, ideal construction. The nature of such a the- 
ory and philosophy was not discussed. In addition, few alternative theories or 
philosophies were offered and no critique of Utopian or idealistic theory or 
philosophy was presented. 

I would argue that this sort of representation hinders beginning architecture 
students by forcing them to question the relevance, rather than the validity, of the 
design philosophy. As a result, I sensed that more time was spent in trying to con- 
vince students of the relevance of universal design, so that discussion about the 
validity of universal design was marginalized. (Hagin) 

In light of this critique, perhaps contrary opinions should be incorporated, such as 
having faculty and students who do not necessarily "buy-in" to the philosophy partici- 
pate in a dialogue about the validity of universal design. The attitude of the faculty, 
both those in the second year team and other critics who attended reviews, was very 
positive. Perhaps that is why reflective criticism was missing. All faculty embraced 
the concept of universal design as a pedagogic vehicle and supported individual dif- 
ferences in approach and emphasis. 

Admittedly, in the early stages of this exploration I was suspicious of universal 
design and I think I noticed similar misgivings in my students. Our feelings proba- 
bly had something to do with the newness of the idea and the name as well. From 
the impossible challenge to create universal design emerges a new awareness and a 
new and broader understanding of design. Universal design— for lack of a better 
term — is a place toward which we constantly strive, with the realization that we 
might never reach it. But the emphasis should not be placed on the final destina- 
tion — it is elusive and might not even exist. The emphasis should be placed on the 
process, the struggle in which we as designers and as a society are constantly 
engaged. (Marsh) 

Design Approaches. All students incorporated basic accessibility in their build- 
ing designs. They all had generous room sizes and this made accessibility easy to 
achieve. Many of their projects were one-story. In the cottage design project, a two- 
story approach was actually unnecessary but could lead to some interesting solutions. 


"Studio Education through Universal Design** 

Making a two-story cottage accessible without resorting to expensive elevators was 
clearly a formidable challenge. The large site also made a one-story hotel design pos- 
sible. However, multi-story solutions provided some interesting architectural opportu- 
nities. In the hotel project, elevators were appropriate. There were many examples 
of multi-story projects and, in fact, a few very tall buildings that were successful 

Many students were preoccupied with the form and symbolic meaning of their 
building designs. They tended to search for unusual interpretations of the universal 
design idea. Only a few students used ergonomics and function as the major genera- 
tor of aesthetic ideas although many incorporated pragmatic ergonomic features in 
their projects. 

/ think many students are unsatisfied with a functional' approach to building 
design. They are driven to engage issues related to site context, historic context, 
and social criticism. Functionalism to them does not present a rich enough intellec- 
tual ground for the making of architecture. Surprisingly, few of the students 
grasped the fact that a re-interpretation of functionalism can be a social critique. 
The objective is to empower people that use buildings by increasing instrumentality. 

I think students get the feeling that functionalism is 'out' in some design circles — no 
longer the cutting edge — so that students feel they shouldn't be exploring this in an 
academic setting. They need to be taught that functionalism is still a 
valid base from which to expand the discourse in the field. (Hagin) 

We did present lectures and criticism about functionalism. Either we 
were not successful in communicating it or it was not a satisfying approach 
from the students' perspective. 

The curriculum could be designed to engage a more pragmatic approach 
to design. Our selection ofArtpark with its rich historical context, dra- 
matic topography, and arts culture may have diverted attention from 
pragmatics. (Steinfeld) 

The cottage design should not have taken place! The whole art focus of 

the project could have been minimized. Too many students considered 

their fictional p>erson to have a career as an artist. The art as emphasis caused a 

lack of reality in a lot of the cottage designs and further influenced the hotel design 


Hotel and cottage design in 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 29 

Chapter 17: SU NY Buffalo 

Site model for hotel and 
cottage design. 

We needed more emphasis on the meaning of universal design including concepts 
such as choice and inclusiveness. In my opinion, students would have been more 
intellectually engaged if they had more opportunity to explore these issues. 

In spite of these criticisms, the students' creative perspectives on the idea of uni- 
versal design led to some very interesting architecture. Many projects can be used as 
examples of how universal design involves more than pragmatic functional concerns. 
"We cannot expect all students to embrace instrumentality as an ideological agenda. 
Faculty need to demonstrate other dimensions of universal design that will interest a 
broader constituency of students. 

This type of project could be used to experiment with the sociology, philosophy, and 
aesthetics of design. We needed to develop a less structured problem statement that 
would have allowed some students to develop non-tangible, non-workable solutions. 
This would have offered izew insights into the context and content of universal 
design, allowed students to find a focus for themselves, and provided an array of 
solutions capable of exposing unique aspects of the universal design perspective. 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

Hotel room model 

It might have been more constructive to offer 'other' perspectives (personal, ethnic, 
cultural, social, political, environmental and even religious positions, brought to 
light in the spirit of the universal design philosophy), rather than marginalize these 
positions in presenting the philosophy as if it were inscribed in stone tablets. 

Technical Knowledge. Each studio had a package of technical resource material 
available in the classroom space. Many students used this material without prompt- 
ing, while others used it only when the instructor explicitly referred them to it. It was 
clear that some students never consulted any of the technical material. To some stu- 
dents, academic architecture is a purely intuitive activity. They are uncomfortable and 
unfamiliar with systematic research of a knowledge base. Even though the material 
was readily available, they were not inclined to use it in the form presented. These 
students rely on the master-apprentice model for obtaining knowledge. They do a 
design, present it to the instructor, get feedback from the instructor, and revise the 

/ think universal design could be used to demonstrate the importance of research as 
pari of the design activity. In our conception of the studio, we did riot emphasize 
this idea enough, and perhaps we should have incorporated an exercise early on in 
the semester that demonstrated to the students the value of independent research 
into a knowledge base using original source material (Steinfel 

Strategies for Teaching I .// Design 1 3 1 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

More needs to be said about the current tendency of students to see design as a 
means of personal expression and emotional release. They tend not to view social 
issues as a design responsibility but see design as a means to critique social ills — 
not as a potential solution to those concerns. They are more comfortable in the 
world of critique and its purity, rather than entering into design, solution, and 
action with the possibility of not attaining perfection. (Day) 

We organized lectures on accessibility when we realized students were not doing 
independent research. Students had many questions and a seminar format proved to 
be very useful for identifying technical issues and conveying basic design principles 
and criteria. About one half of the students attended. The faculty agreed that we 
should have had more lectures over the course of the semester and included some 
on construction, landscape design, circulation, and other basic issues. In retrospect, 
required technical "seminars" on a weekly basis should be incorporated into a studio 
of this sort, with universal design being only one of the topics. This would mean 
reducing the number of other activities planned or increasing the credit hours for the 

Rather than simply presenting the students with precedents for accessibility, there 
should be more time spent on the criticism of those precedents. Detailed discussions 
and dialogue on existing examples of accessibility can be a good way to encourage 
the development of innovative ideas. We did not do enough of this. (Steinfeld) 

The technical knowledge on accessibility needed for a studio project at this level 
is not extensive. Accessibility could be provided simply by making all spaces gener- 
ous in size, insuring that doorways and corridors are wide, and eliminating stairs. 

It is fairly easy to achieve accessibility if one provides generous spaces. Our project 
did not have any economic constraints. Some ground rules for cost-conscious 
design and an emphasis on doing the most with the least could have provided more 
challenge in meeting general accessibility goals. (Steinfeld) 

With faculty encouragement, students expanded their investigations to consider 
overall circulation, wayfinding, emergency egress, and several other universal design 
issues. A few students designed ramps and extensive walkway systems over sloping 
ground. To insure that the students investigated more of the details of accessible 
design, we required a detailed design of a hotel room and bathroom. Many detailed 
technical issues were also pursued in the product design project. Some very interest- 
ing concepts for universal design emerged. 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

Universal design is best understood through interaction. This is why small-scale 
objects that allow interaction are best. Universal design is also about details. It is 
difficult to judge the universality of products if they do not have detailed parts. 

Use of 

all program 

Consultants. In general, the consultants were a valuable part of the over- 

The consultants were perhaps the most pivotal [connection] in the whole 
process of learning. Some consultants were very good, some only average. 

Because most students do not get the opportunity to interact with disabled 
persons on a daily basis, the consultants were an important way to devel- 
op insights into the unique needs of individuals. They were instrumental 
in making the students think about the needs of people who are unlike 
themselves. . . If universal design is about diversity, then it should be rep- 
resented in the selection of consultants. They could have been artists, sci- 
entists, sociologists, and politicians — some who were disabled and others 
who were not. (Mullick) 

Despite the complexities of integrating a wide variety of physically challenged con- 
sultants into the studio environment, it is an invaluable introduction of reality into 
the design process. The more sophisticated the consultant, the more meaningful the 
interactive experience can be. (Lownie) 

Although students listened to consultants when they offered opinions about func- 
tional issues, they often ignored or even ridiculed their aesthetic observations. 

Most students seemed willing to give the consultants a voice in pragmatic decisions. 
Many of the projects resulting from this exploration were very successful at proiid- 
ing physical accessibility to products and buildings. They gave them less of a voice 
in aesthetic decisions. We saw few projects that attempted to be visually, aesthetical- 
ly, and psychologically accessible to the consultants. . . In some way. students 
should be encouraged/required to give the consultants a voice in aesthetic decisions. 
This would generate valuable discourse on some important questions: Where do we 
draw the line between artistic freedom and social obligation? Is it possible to hai e 
both? How is it possible to have both? (Marsh) 

A consultant uvrks tntb a 
student in the studio. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 33 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

The consultants were very critical of the lack of seriousness in the work; they pro- 
vided the most benefits in the studio classes working with individual students. They 
were less useful in response and participation in the critiques. (Mouritsen) 

The consultants interacted with the students in various ways. Some were very 
inquisitive and informative, providing much useful criticism. Some were confronta- 
tional, uncovering negative attitudes and inaccuracies, challenging students to change 
their perspectives. These consultants were not afraid to provoke reaction and used 
strong argumentation in their championship of accessibility. A few consultants were 
very passive. They did not question the students in detail and responded weakly to 
what they were presented. On the whole, the younger and middle-aged people with 
disabilities were the most effective in the studio context. The older people did not 
have as strong a message nor did they pursue it with as much diligence. Some con- 
sultants made a strong effort to engage students in discussion. Others left it up to the 
students to engage them, which was not always successful. 

Continuing effort is necessary to coordinate the consultants and to insure that they 
will be present when scheduled. A few consultants were lax about appointments and 
others became confused about which studio they were to attend. The most effective 
way to reduce coordination problems is to establish a consistent schedule and loca- 
tion for the whole semester. 

Final Presentation: 

Jurors review students ' 

Timing of consultant visits is the key to successful interaction both for a stu- 
dent and consultant. The student must have sufficient work completed to be 
able to discuss their design ideas and allow for reasonable comprehension 
and feedback from the consultant. Possibly having the students participate in 
the scheduling would help. (Lownie) 

I noticed the tendency for many students to avoid interaction with the consul- 
tants. In several instances, a consultant was in the studio and had finished 
talking with a student. The other students did not come forward to invite the 
consultant to review their project. In some cases, students left the room and 
were not available when the consultant was present. (Steinfeld) 

We used consultants in three different venues: individual board crits, single stu- 
dio stage reviews, and final reviews with the two studios together. The faculty all 
agreed that the individual board reviews were the most appropriate and effective for- 
mat for involving consultants. However, consultants like to see the final products and 
to be invited to the final reviews. We planned an exhibition for all the consultants to 
attend as well as other faculty and students. In studios with multiple projects, consul- 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

tants can see the final results of the earlier project when they come back for 
the subsequent project. They are not as concerned with the formal ritual of 
presentations as faculty and students. 

Problem Type and Sequence, The use of several related projects with 
multiple scales, ranging from a product to a complex building, sustained stu- 
dent interest and created a richer, more diverse learning situation. Students 
had greater opportunity for design success by having more than one prob- 
lem to solve. However, the sequence of projects could be improved and 
the number of projects reduced. 

The hotel design was a well-chosen vehicle for the universal design study. 
It covered many functions, was complete, and was a public place where it's 
obviously necessary to consider all aspects of universal design. (Mouritsen) 

Universal Product 

Drinking fountain 

In my opinion, the process we followed, starting with overall architectural 
projects and moving to more detailed issues and product design, should 
be reversed. The product design project engaged the students most easily 
in universal design. Product design generates enthusiasm and ideas most 
effectively. Moreover, consultants can relate to it more easily. Many ideas 
and approaches for product design can be carried over to building 
design. It is also a good way to introduce ergonomics as a basis for 
design. (Steinfeld) 

Faculty were dissatisfied with the level of attention students gave to 
detailed technical issues. 

Looking backwards it seems to be that instead of having the cottages project, we 
should have given more time to the hotel design and product design. We got tuv 
'sketch-type' projects. Too few of the students came close enough to a leiel of detail- 
ing interior and exterior design, where design solutions with serious consequences 
for use and accessibility are generated. The architectural quality of a facade isn 1 
very closely linked to universal design. The design of the bathroom of the guest 
rooms was an exception from this general statement. (Mouritsen) 

Universal Product: 

Fire extinguisher 

In regard to the workshops, hindsight illuminated some need for reorganization 
and editing: 

Strategies for Teaching Universal i 135 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

To help ensure that the extra work does not divert from the major projects, 
each workshop should be limited to one afternoon or overnight assignment. 

By focusing Workshop #1 on development of the biography, there would be 
more time for discussion and several cycles of revisions. Each student should 
write a real biography of a person with a disability based on observations and 
interviews. This would avoid the soap opera phenomenon. 

The simulation of disability in Workshop #1 should be integrated with the full- 
scale model exercise in Workshop #2 or the product design in Workshop #3. 
This way it could become part of a problem-solving task under faculty super- 

The full-scale model should be used in more than one workshop and, if time 
permits, even more emphasis should be given to building technology. 

The movement exercise should be a separate activity and linked more directly 
to the ongoing project with a structured and explicit connection. 


A group of seventy or more students, faculty, and consultants actively partici- 
pated in the Universal Design Education Project (UDEP). The evaluative question- 
naire, developed by the sponsor of the UDEP for use at all project sites, was complet- 
ed by fifty persons. The respondents consisted of nine consultants, thirty-seven stu- 
dents (twenty-seven undergraduate students and ten graduate students), and four fac- 
ulty members — more than two-thirds of the project participants. 

The following analysis examines the answers to four questions on the question- 
naire. The answer categories emerged from a content analysis of open-ended 
answers. Ideally, all answers to the four questions analyzed should be related. The 
UDEP sought to reaffirm an understanding of the physical environment by way of the 
philosophy and practice of universal design. It also attempted to reconfirm and foster 
universal design and its associated attitudes. Any apparent inconsistency in answers 
with respect to these two goals is likely due to the somewhat personal nature of such 
an evaluation and should not be taken as a direct indication of a shortcoming in the 
project or the way in which the project was presented. 


'Studio Education through Universal Design' 

Question Two. This question asked participants to reflect on their present under- 
standing of the physical environment. Many of the respondents indicated that their 
participation sparked a realization of the need for "adaptation and accommodation.'' 
This answer heading was the answer given by one consultant. Similar responses 
included value judgments and specific criticisms regarding the disabling qualities of 
existing physical environments and the need for some alteration. 

Most of the undergraduate student answers reiterated this newly acquired under- 
standing of the physical environment, but in more general terms. These students indi- 
cated a general overall awareness of the physical environment as well as a general 
awareness of access issues in the present physical environment. This is the case for 
the graduate students as well, though three students stressed the need for a social 
change in attitude, an overall disability consciousness. 

Most respondents to Question Two indicated that their participation had positive 
value in their understanding of the physical environment. Many remarked that they 
became more aware of its limiting factors; they began to notice environmental barriers 
more often. Some took a critical stance on the state of the physical environment, 
which was evidently new for them. Most reflected on their new understanding of uni- 
versal design as well as an overall universal design consciousness. 

Question Three. This question asked participants to reflect on their present 
understanding of universal design. Many of the respondents answered by indicating a 
general awareness of universal design. Evidently, this design ideology and philosophy 
was relatively new for all but two undergraduate students, who remarked that their 
participation simply expanded their existing understanding of universal design. 

Fourteen respondents out of fifty (28%) answered this question with an indication 
that the term "universal design" was perhaps a misnomer. These responses fall into 
the category best described by the statement, "It made me realize that universal design 
is not absolute." It included such statements as "made me realize how un-universal 
our world is" 7 and "there is no such thing as universal design — only 'most inclusive' 
design." This is evidence of understanding the universal design ideology since it indi- 
cates that the students struggled with the concept and took a critical stance on the 
naming of that concept. 

The majority of the respondents to Question Three indicated an increased aware- 
ness of universal design and its associated objectives. Three students (two graduate 
and one undergraduate) indicated that they had no conception of universal design, but 
this is perhaps an empty criticism. Those who remarked that universal design is not 
absolute seemed to understand the ideology but pleaded for a more appropriate 
name. The clear majority evidently came away with an increased understanding of 
the philosophy, practice, and overall objectives of universal design. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 137 

Chapter 17: SUNY Buffalo 

Universal design should Question Six. This question asked participants to describe the most 

valuable new thing gained from their participation in the project and to 
become a routine matter name that aspect of the project that contributed most to learning this new 

_ t , r thing. Many responses to the first pan of Question Six indicated a newly 

J r J learned awareness of "the other" as well as a new perspective on the 

architects. . . " design process. Participants also seemed to value their social interaction in 

the academic setting. They came to realize their knowledge of universal 
design in this context. Many indicated a positive experience in working with others. 
Though some focused on their struggle with particular design issues, more remarked 
on their specific inclusion and awareness of "the other." Five students (three graduate 
and two undergraduate) made some indication of "responsibility" toward that other. 
Some pointed to a new respect for particular design issues. Some felt a responsibility 
toward universal design indicating a pathos for disability awareness and an increased 
consciousness of this perspective. 

The majority of the respondents answered the second pan of Question Six by 
indicating that the interactions in the academic setting contributed most to their learn- 
ing that design must incorporate the needs of others. Thirty percent replied that 
interaction with consultants contributed most. Twenty-two percent indicated that their 
most valuable learning was the result of the studio environment, critiques, informal 
discussions, lectures, presentations and the like. Sixteen percent praised the simula- 
tion of disability, the empathetic experience, as the greatest contributor. The remain- 
ing thirty-two percent gave more subjective replies. 

General Observations. The majority of participants in the UDEP became aware 
of the physical environment, its barriers, and the way they and others interact with 
the physical environment. They became sensitized enough to universal design objec- 
tives and attitudes for them to take a position on what this type of design philosophy 
should be called. They realized a general awareness of "the other" and a moral posi- 
tion that design should incorporate their needs. Finally, they realized that their new 
perspective was greatly influenced by the active presence of the consultants, the 
experience of simulating a disability, and the studio project on the whole. 

The analysis of the questionnaire responses demonstrates clearly that, in the 
words of one respondent, "universal design should become a routine matter for our 
new 'crop' of architects, as the aged, physically challenged, blind, well, [and] young 
are all integrated into a society where most are functional." Most of the participants 
in the UDEP would probably agree with this statement and perhaps even argue that 
universal design is becoming more routine every day. 

In conclusion, the general consensus of the faculty was that the focus on univer- 
sal design was a good approach to teaching architecture. We were definitely success- 


*Studio Education through Universal Design' 

ful in reaching our objectives. Through good faculty support, positive student atti- 
tudes, and eager consultants, the message of universal design was communicated. 

The ultimate evaluation, the work produced by students, clearly reflects the stu- 
dent's integration of that message. Only three of one hundred and fifty projects were 
"specially" designed for people with disabilities. Through universal design we were 
able to engage the students in a critique of the contemporary environment and their 
own work. The students, in fact, challenged faculty to broaden our perspective on 
universal design. Some students developed projects that were critiques of universal 
design itself. The work exhibited a great deal of imagination in how universal design 
can be implemented. Students explored a full range of aesthetic ideas from the 
"funky" to the "high-tech." They demonstrated how universal design does not limit 
aesthetic exploration; if anything, it provokes and sustains a search for innovative 

The faculty also learned a lot from this experience. To encourage the most posi- 
tive student attitudes, we now know that we should present universal design so that it 
does not compete with learning other fundamental aspects of architecture and product 
design. We have learned how to improve the use of consultants and the delivery of 
technical information. And we have learned that our second-year students are able 
and eager to engage in a high level of intellectual debate about the intent and value 
of universal design. Such debate is a healthy way to introduce universal design in 
both theory and practice. 

We believe, more strongly than ever, that universal design is good design. Design 
that seeks inclusion of others' needs and values, at the broadest level, is the most 
meaningful design. There are no universal solutions, only universal goals. The 
engagement of the search and a serious effon to reach those goals is what distinguish- 
es "good" from "bad" in this context. To achieve universal design requires deliberate 
and considered attempts to understand the needs and values of others. 


1. See Yuker. H.E. "The effect of contact on attitudes toward disabled persons: 
some empirical generalizations." In Yuker, H.E. (ed.) Attitudes towards Persons with 
Disabilities. New York: Springer, 1988. 

Strategies for Teach ing I 'n it ersal Design 1 3 9 

Texas Tech University — Lubbock, TX 

Department of Landscape Architecture 

"Unking the Curriculum with Life Stages and Landscapes'* 


Landscape architecture has no prototype for modifying the curriculum of five-year 
degree programs to incorporate the value of universal design. Rather than presenting 
minimum standards for accessibility, this effort proposed to link the curriculum with 
life stages and landscapes by stressing functional, aesthetic, and technical aspects of 
the outdoor spatial experience for people of all abilities. 

Universal design should be introduced into the curriculum not as a new area of 
technology, but as a basic element of ordinary learning and practice for each studio- 
based course. By introducing universal design as a fundamental attribute of good 
design, students can readily integrate it into problem-solving strategies and aesthetic 
objectives when they begin to formulate their design thinking. Universal design val- 
ues, if reinforced in later coursework, serve as a vehicle for expanding the relation- 
ships between function, aesthetic understanding, and traditional design forms. 

Integrating universal design across the curriculum proved to be too ambitious with 
the available funding, so the strategy was modified. In the first semester of the pro- 
fessional design sequence, universal design was introduced into the introductory stu- 
dio, the third professional graphics course, and the landforms course (the first course 
in the construction sequence). In the second semester, universal design was further 
emphasized in the design studio as a fundamental aspect of site investigation and 
master planning. It was emphasized in the second construction course as a significant 
factor in the selection of materials and detail construction decisions. In the fourth 
semester, universal design was stressed in the site design studio as a natural function 
of designing for diversity and for the life stages of people. These curriculum changes 
provided exceptionally thorough emphasis on universal design in the initial semesters, 
followed by redirection and reinforcement of universal design principles in the fourth 
semester of the studio design sequence. 

Faculty coordinator: 

Jean Stephans Kavanagh 
Assistant Professor 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 4 1 

Chapter 18: Texas Tech University 


The projects were assigned in the following sequence: 

Semester 1 

Modelling landscape spaces for all participants 
Tactile rendering of landscape plans 
Drawing file of nontraditional people 

Semester 2 

Path of travel analysis 

Semester 4 

Design a family 

Universal design in the Rube Goldberg Experience 

Stringin'em ALL along 

We reorganized the introductory landscape design studio to incorporate the value 
of designing for all people. We also developed a few special exercises that made uni- 
versal access an integral part of the scope of the problem in three semesters of work. 

Universal Design Landscape 
model produced in Studio I 
series by first semester 
design student, Miki Stewart. 

Modelling Landscape Spaces for All Participants. The syl- 
labus and seven-project sequence for the introductory studio rely on 
a three-dimensional, model-based format to establish universal par- 
ticipation as a fundamental premise for design. The model 
sequence emphasizes spatial and visual alternatives in the experi- 
ence of landscape space. Students were asked to design and build 
landscape models for theoretical settings using three specific land- 
scape media in three different contextual settings (supportive on all 
sides, supportive on a single side, and conflicting on all sides). 
Furthermore, students were restricted to a simplified morphology 
prescribing a single form generation for each model in the 
sequence. Principles of enclosure, movement, legibility, and experi- 
ence were introduced and project models were critiqued as compo- 
nents of universal design. This studio establishes at the earliest stage of design educa- 
tion that all structures, features, and experiences must be inclusionary, nonrestrictive 
and integrating. Associated courses in the first semester of the design sequence sup- 
port and elaborate on the principles introduced in this studio. 


"Linking the Curriculum with Life Stages and Landscapes' 

Tactile Rendering of Landscape Plans. In this exercise, students 
explored how plans could be made more accessible to people with low 
vision. Students were given the principles for Braille map-making and were 
asked to transform one of their projects that required a model and plan 
submission into a tactile plan which could be readily understandable by a 
person with low vision. We were fortunate that a local individual with 
extremely low vision was eager to participate in the classroom critiques and 
theoretical development for this project. Format size was assigned but 
material selection, graphic style, and interpretation of designed features 
were determined by student innovations. 

Drawing File of Nontraditional People. Students are often unable to 
visualize how to draw people who are not young, vigorous, and in peak 
condition. When they rely on drawing files to animate their drawings, they 
are no better off because most entourage figures lack diversity as well. 
Since designers rely heavily on graphic visualization techniques for design 
exploration and communication, having available images of people who are 
old, young, caring for children, pregnant, injured, using a cane, or signing 
increases the likelihood that universal design principles will be employed in 
the design of outdoor spaces. For the assignment, students located pho- 
tographs of people with diverse characteristics. Most periodicals and texts 
still feature "beautiful" people and lack visual representation of the rest of 
us. The research introduced students to specialized texts that they normally 
would not run across and gave them an opportunity to explore books on 
disabilities and aging through an engaging technique. 

Symposium. In addition to introducing universal design to Texas Tech 
students through classroom assignments, the Landscape Architecture 
Department sponsored a special symposium on making outdoor and recre- 
ational environments accessible. Cosponsorship came from the College of 
Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the West Texas section of the 
American Society of Landscape Architects. Susan Goltsman. our UDEP advisor, was a 
keynote speaker along with Ruth Doyle, a U.S. Forest Service Accessibility Specialist. 

Path of Travel Analysis. This exercise familiarized students with the difference 
between ADA compliance and universal design. Students were asked to conduct an 
ADA site evaluation. Then they reconsidered the site from a non-regulatory perspec- 
tive — as a recreational experience for the student, accompanied by a family member 
or friend with a disability — and compared the results of the two approaches. At least 
two sites were compared, including, where possible, a site the student was designing. 
This exercise was assigned in the first design studio and re-issued in subsequent 
design studios to build on the student's prior insights and understandings. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 43 

Chapter 18: Texas Tech University 

Design a Family. In this exercise students described families who would serve 
as prototypical users for the entire semester of design studio. Site-specific planning 
and design activity is fundamentally dependent upon the modification of natural envi- 
ronments for the utility and enjoyment of a specific group of people. When no spe- 
cific client group is defined, students and designers often imagine a prototypical per- 
son or group of people who will be using their landscapes. Students' ability to cri- 
tique their own work is dependent on knowing the characteristics of these imaginary 
users. Problems in designed landscapes can be traced to the designer's inadequate 
understanding or biased critique of the ways in which real people interact with their 
landscape. To avoid the pitfalls of bias in having a nonspecific, imaginary user, stu- 
dents were asked to define a group or "family" with specific characteristics who will 
be the users or visitors to each of the landscape problems given during the semester. 
The family had to include people with a range of ages, genders, and physical abilities. 
The family descriptions helped the instructor critique the students' work. 

Rube Goldberg Landscape 
Experience model complet- 
ed in Studio TV by fourth 
year student, Jesus Ramirez. 

Universal Design in the Rube Goldberg Experience. Landscape architects are 
frequently called upon to develop site designs offering innovative and entertaining 
pedestrian experiences. This assignment asked students to stretch their imaginations 
in the manner of Rube Goldberg, the early twentieth century American cartoonist, 
who specialized in illustrating ludicrously complex machines to accomplish simple, 
basic tasks. Students designed and built Rube Goldberg machines as metaphors for 
self-propelled movement through landscape space that exhibits all of the 
principles of universal design. The "pedestrians" were represented by ping 
pong balls and the "site" was one cubic yard of space. Students were 
reminded that the ping pong person was generic so had a sixty percent 
chance of having some disability. Movement had to be powered by 
mechanical or gravitational sources. The students' inventions were evaluat- 
ed for: amusement value to the ping pong person, variety of moving expe- 
riences, utilization of the entire volume, degree of care afforded the per- 
son/user, adherence to the project definition, and workmanship. 

Stringin'em ALL Along. This project reinforced the learning in the 
previous project by encouraging students to employ expressive and defini- 
tive elements in outdoor space. A few trees, some shrubs, and simple 
changes in the ground plane surface can very clearly define space in the landscape. 
This space carries a wealth of associations which entice, enhance, encourage, discour- 
age, complicate, forbid, or enhance human interactions and enjoyment of that land- 
scape. Students were asked to design a complete pedestrian experience, composed 
entirely of string, in a series of outdoor spaces that would be used by everyone. The 
string was to be the element by which pedestrians are guided through the site, with- 
out creating an obstacle course or playground. The design was intended to heighten 
the visitor's experience, enjoyment, and understanding of landscape while exploiting 
the expressive qualities of string. Disabilities were not only accommodated, they 


"Linking the Curriculum with Life Stages and Landscapes' 

were to be celebrated. The projects were judged on, among other things: their 
intrigue value; the quality, variety, universality, and safety of pedestrian experiences; 
and transitions between spaces as crafted experiences. Students selected one project 
from the models built by the class to build on the actual site in the central campus 
area. Students judged the universal design success of the landscape design by carry- 
ing out a disability simulation exercise within the string construction. 


The introductory studio met with resistance from the first year students who were 
unfamiliar with ADA, not to mention universal design. The continuity of faculty and 
the repeated emphasis on people of every ability in assignments throughout the intro- 
ductory curriculum were extremely important to validating universal design in the 
eyes of the students. Once initial objections were addressed, the studio participants 
produced designs which successfully explored the nature of universal design in the 

The most troublesome of the assignments described above was the Path of Travel 
Analysis because it relied heavily on attitudes presented and supported by the instruc- 
tor. Although the assignment sought independent thinking and evaluation, the stu- 
dents needed constant encouragement and reinforcement to overcome ingrained 
expectations about users of designed landscapes. The assignment's concurrent evalu- 
ation of a site from the viewpoint of a visitor with a disability proved to be a valuable 
component. One student commented: "ADA alone wouldn't make the landscape 
suitable for my elderly person to visit" and "It really helped to imagine a visit with my 
visitor and her two babies. I'd never have identified problems without that part of the 

The string landscape proved to be a very exciting project. However, its strength 
was primarily as a visual element in the landscape. The simulation exercise identified 
only a few problems in terms of access. In the future greater emphasis will be placed 
upon the experiential qualities during the design phases. 

Strateg ies for Teach ing Unit crsal Desig n 145 

Chapter 18: Texas Tech University 


Since the projects required students to make a shift in viewpoint rather than 
absorb new technologies, the degree of "learning" was difficult to evaluate. Attitudes 
were clearly different after the sequence but students did not recognize that they had 
made radical changes in either their approach or their values. Later projects, especial- 
ly those in the fourth semester, were viewed by students as regular projects, not 
specifically as universal design projects. We view this as a significant measure of suc- 

Comparing students' submissions in these studios with those of studios in prior 
years reveals significant shifts in providing for people of diverse abilities. In particu- 
lar, emphasizing universal design reduced the reliance on stairs for level changes and 
excessive grades. 


Our project has progressed with a minimum of funding. As a result, our efforts 
have not included any stipends for the continuous paid involvement of consultants. 
However, we have found that volunteer consultants with disabilities are often eager to 
participate in a design studio experience on an occasional basis. Our most enthusias- 
tic volunteer was a person with low vision whose influence is evidenced in our 
emphasis on communication during the design process as well as on universal design 
in the designed landscape. We have also been pleasantly surprised to realize that this 
occasional intervention by volunteers with disabilities has proven to be a very effec- 
tive method of introducing universal design in the landscape architecture curriculum. 

Familiarity with people who have disabilities and with disabling conditions is best 
realized by inviting a wide range of people to participate in the classroom. Early 
introduction seems to work extremely well. However, as our students engage in 
summer internships in professional design offices, much of the universal design 
emphasis is undermined by employers who are not supportive of universal design or, 
in many cases, are not convinced that people with disabilities should receive "special 
design consideration." 


University of Michigan— Ann Arbor, Ml 

and Eastern Michigan University — Ypsilanti, Ml 

Collaboration between Interior Design, Industrial Design, and 



'A Day's journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game 


People who are disabled, frail, or elderly (D/F/E), most of whom want to main- 
tain independent lifestyles, make up an increasingly large segment of the population. 
In 1900, there were 3 million Americans 65 years of age or older (1 in 25 Americans), 
comprising 4 percent of the population. By 1990, 1 in 8 people were 65 or older 
(12.6 percent or 3-5 million people). By the year 2050, 1 in 5 Americans (22 percent 
or 67 million) will be 65 or older (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990). As the median 
age increases, the United States will become a nation with more elderly people (pre- 
dominantly female) who require many of the services and supportive environments 
that are currently earmarked for people with disabilities. Of the population 65 years 
of age and older, 46 percent have a health impairment resulting in ambulatory limita- 
tions — often confining them to home. 

Team members: 

Louise Jones 

Assoaate Professor, Eastern 

Michigan University 
Ronald A Sekulski 

Assistant Professor, 

University of Michigan 
Leon A Pastalan 

Professor, University of 


These figures suggest that the design professions need to be more cognizant of 
universal design criteria. Not only is the D/F/E population expanding, but there is 
increasing recognition of the pervasiveness of temporary disabilities. All Americans, if 
they live long enough, will experience a disability (e.g., a problem with walking, see- 
ing, or hearing) at some point in their lives. Universal design — designing all products, 
buildings, and interiors to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible 
(Lusher) — offers a solution to the design challenges presented by the D/F/E popula- 

Unfortunately, there is little information on the D/F/E population available in an 
accessible format for students to integrate into the design process. Moreover, there is 
little documentation of how D/F/E persons, their families, and their friends have 
attempted to modify products or the physical environment to meet their individual 
requirements. Knowledge of their needs and adaptations would be invaluable to 
design students and practitioners seeking to incorporate universal design criteria into 
their design work. 

The goal of our project was to introduce design students to an experiential, inter- 
active, design research method and to demonstrate that the game/simulation. A Day's 
Journey Through Life® (GS), offers students significant insight into the environmental 
and performance needs of a diverse population, thereby changing their perception of 
accessibility and universal design issues. 

To fully understand the complexity of everyday life for D/F/E people, the form of 
inquiry must address a level of specificity and richness of experience that is not cap- 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 47 

Chapter 1 9: University of Michigan 

tured through self-administered questionnaires or structured interviews. In seeking 
this knowledge, however, traditional data collection techniques are problematic 
because of the demands of time related to interviews, the contamination of data relat- 
ed to participant observation, and the low response rate associated with survey ques- 
tionnaire requests. 

Students studying the relationship between environment and behavior need data 
that has not been contaminated by interpretation of others. Relying on design 
research that has been collected, compiled, and interpreted by others removes the stu- 
dent from direct interaction with the subjects. Survey data are devoid of the direct 
insight into human conditions that are not only diverse but also constantly changing. 
The spirit or essence of some critical issues may only be perceived by interacting with 
the individual within the context of the immediate environs. Exposure of students to 
some of the changes associated with the lifespan can best be accomplished through 
one-on-one direct communication with those who are attempting to maintain inde- 
pendent lifestyles. 

To expand the breadth of students' empirical experience, a game/simulation titled 
A Day's Journey Through Life® was developed as a design research technique.i As a 
data collection instrument, the game/simulation can provide access to formerly inac- 
cessible information and stimulate interaction and discussion, which may yield new 
insights and new attitudes regarding universal design issues. 

Formal game theory attempts to correlate certain human behavior with game-like 
characteristics. In the 1960s at John Hopkins University, sociologist James Coleman 
initiated the development of games for use in educational settings. Most educational 
games attempt to ponray both a realistic model of a particular environment as well as 
specific subject matter content. At the University of Michigan, Richard D. Duke, Allan 
Feldt, Layman Allen, Fred Goodman, and others continued that development and 
investigated multiple uses for games. Duke (1991) describes gaming as a hybrid com- 
munication form that has the ability to accurately convey sophisticated information 
with a greater perception of the interrelationships involved than is possible through 
simple language forms. At the The Western Behavioral Institute, Gary Shirts, Hall 
Sprague. John Raser, and Waymon J. Crow extended the investigation to include the 
use of simulation in educational settings. Simulations are closely linked to games, the 
distinctions are more a matter of technical differences than of theory or purpose. A 
simulation may be described as an operational model which illustrates functional and 
structural relationships of the central features of a system (Duke, 199D- 

Games serve as metaphors of reality which permit the participant to develop a 
common language for discussing the problems at hand. Games may serve as a simu- 
lation model of some part of reality, or they may represent an abstract world. A game 


*A Day's journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game 


can provide a skeletal model of a system in order to structure communication in a 
productive way. The primary features of the system are presented to motivate players 
to discuss the problems at hand. Gaming improves communication about a complex 
environment to enable new alternatives to be envisioned and tested. 

Games are frequently described as a safe environment for learning. This, com- 
bined with their ability to hold the participants' attention and to quickly convey the 
central characteristics of a complex environment, makes them excellent as innovative 
design research instruments. They are designed to free participants from everyday 
constraints, to encourage innovation, and to assist in the communication of complex 
and emergent ideas about possible alternate paths (Duke, 1991). 


The UDEP grant supported activities in two design studios, industrial design at the 
University of Michigan (working with Ron Sekulski) and interior design at Eastern 
Michigan University (working with Louise Jones). Both faculty members and Lee 
Pastalan, who served as advisor for both groups, met frequently to coordinate 

At Eastern Michigan University, senior interior design students were invited by a 
nonprofit agency to develop a design proposal for the adaptive reuse of the Ann 
Arbor Inn. Industrial design students at the University of Michigan were invited to 
identify and develop products which could be used in this environment. 

The Allenel Hotel was originally built on the site of the Ann Arbor Inn 
in the 1840s. Although the original building was razed in 1963. a hotel was 
in operation on the site until 1990 when the owner declared bankruptcy 
and the furnishings, fixtures, and equipment were sold. The vacant eleven- 
story, 145,000 square foot building was zoned for residential, commercial, 
and retail use. The program for adaptive reuse was to incorporate office 
space-, an indoor, year-round, park; retail spaces; classrooms and offices for 
the local community college's outreach program; senior coop apartments; 
management offices; resident activity rooms; an indoor pool and physical 
fitness center; and a restaurant for both residents and the general public. 

Students from both universities were assigned to teams to play the game, ensuring 
that each team would have both industrial and interior design representation. Each 
student team was assigned to a consultant, an individual selected from the local D/E/E 
population, with whom they would play the game. Consultants were identified by 

:el of Ann Arbor Inn 
(Courtesy of Kadusbm 

Associates Architects & 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 49 

Chapter 19: University of Michigan 

the instructors using personal contacts, personnel at the local Center for Independent 
Living, and individuals with disabilities who had participated in ADAAG training ses- 
sions through the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers. There were 
two consultants representing each of the user groups: hearing impaired; vision 
impaired; mobility impaired (both permanent and temporary); frail elderly (muscu- 
loskeletal problems); manipulation, dexterity, grip problems; and those who fell in the 
anthropometric extremes (less than the 5th percentile or greater than the 95th per- 
centile). Some consultants had multiple problems. For example, one consultant was 
a forty-eight year old man with Parkinson's disease whose wife has Lou Gehrig's dis- 
ease; another was a twenty-two year old man who lost his eyesight and one leg in a 
small plane crash; a third consultant was a forty year old woman with multiple 

A Day's Journey Through Life® is part of a longstanding gaming/simulation tradi- 
tion which structures communication in a context of multilogue as compared to dia- 
logue. Words in sequence are less powerful than the combined interactive effects of 
words, objects, and actions in a situational context. The combination can more readi- 
ly convey totality and therefore speed understanding and the generation of informa- 
tion about complex environmental design problems. Multilogue has been shown to 
be effective at sensitizing the design student to disability and lifespan concerns and to 
the uniqueness of each individual's experiences (Sekulski, Jones, & Pastalan, 1994). 
Use of interactive programming (i.e., data collection in conjunction with specific per- 
formance criteria) will enable design students to consider the particular functional 
needs that come with age, varying abilities, and disabilities in order to design prod- 
ucts and facilities that are accessible by all people to the greatest extent possible. 

The components of A Day 's 
Journey Through Life. ® 

The game board and sequence of play were developed to 
move participants through the activities of daily life (for example, 
grooming, dressing, cooking, cleaning) in a setting familiar to the 
consultant. During the game, the consultant is considered the VIP 
(Very Important Person) because she is teaching the students about 
life as a member of that user group. During a two- to three-hour 
time period that includes orientation, game play, and debriefing, a 
student team engages the VIP and a caregiver (if applicable) in a 
multilogue to identify the aspects of the micro- and macro-environ- 
ment which inhibit autonomy and independence. 

The game is played in the VIP's residence to encourage identifi- 
cation of specific problem areas in the home environment. The familiarity of the 
home setting encourages a more relaxed ambiance where the VIP is willing to share 
insights and intimate experiences, disclosures that might be inhibited by clinical or 
unfamiliar surroundings. During the game play, the VIP, a caregiver (if applicable), 


*A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game" 

the facilitator, and a recorder are seated around a table large enough to accommodate 
the gameboard and playing pieces. The facilitator's role is to engage the VIP in the 
play of the game and ask probing questions to encourage full disclosure of the com- 
plexity of the activities of daily living (ADLs). The recorder, sometimes assisted by 
audio or videotape recordings, stays in the background, using the recorder's notebook 
to capture the information revealed. 

To initiate the game, the facilitator, using a series of twenty ADL icon cards, 
requests the VIP to determine whether each ADL is difficult or easy to execute. This 
round of play introduces the range of ADLs that will be discussed and initiates consid- 
eration of the limitations and challenges associated with the VLP's specific abilities and 
living environment. The facilitator and VIP move quickly through the cards without 
pausing to discuss problems or issues. 

In the second round of play, the VIP identifies the time of day when a particular 
ADL is most likely to be performed or, if performed several times a day, when it is 
most troublesome. The activity cards are placed on the game playing field in one of 
four time quadrants (morning, afternoon, evening, or night) according to the VIP's 
responses. The next round of play brings more depth to the inquiry by prompting 
the VIP to relive A Day's Journey Through Life®. Starting with the morning quadrant 
and progressing through the time periods, the VIP chooses an ADL activity card and 
responds to the question printed on the card (i.e., What do you do when you first 
wake-up?). This elicits both the problems encountered on a day-to-day basis and the 
coping strategies routinely implemented to address them. The final round of play 
identifies any remaining issues by inviting the VIP to describe the most troublesome 
activity experienced on a daily basis and the product she finds most difficult to use. 


Early in the semester, students brainstormed the problems that users of different 
ages and abilities might have with the environment. Due to students' youth, first-hand 
experience with stroke rehabilitation or cataracts was limited, although some could 
discuss problems their parents or grandparents were having. Very few students 
acknowledged having friends or relatives who had disabling conditions. However, 
temporary mobility problems caused by athletic injuries or Michigan winters provided 
some insight on the problems that might be encountered and possible coping 

Many students expressed apprehension about meeting the consultants in their 
homes, but in most instances the consultants were a wealth of insights and imagina- 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 5 1 

Chapter 1 9: University of Michigan 

A Day's Journey Through 
Life® gameboard set up for 
round two, showing the 
four time quadrants and 
ADL activity cards. 

tive coping strategies. As one student explained, "We began to see universal design 
as a way to assist users of products or environments to function efficiently and inde- 
pendently. By incorporating these parameters and asking these questions during the 
design research phase, the likely outcome is a product or environment that can be 
used by a broad spectrum of users." 

A consultant with industri- 
al and interior design stu- 
dents in round three of 
playing the game. 

After playing the game with the consultants, students recognized 
the need for both a broader perspective and for more specific crite- 
ria for each impairment. They extended their research to the library 
to identify the underlying characteristics of the impairments (e.g., 
conditions that lead to use of a wheelchair), the prevalence of the 
conditions (e.g., 31 million Americans have mobility problems), the 
magnitude of the problems (e.g., not all wheelchairs are created 
equal), and the relevant codes and legislation (e.g., barrier-free 
building codes, ADAAG, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act). 
This information was essential in understanding the full scope of 
the problems rather than focusing exclusively on the narrow per- 
spective narrated by one consultant. 

Industrial design students met with other professors, research scientists, and 
experts in the field. "We were very surprised to find that extensive statistical and 
human factors data simply doesn't exist for many of these groups (e.g., 'frail 
elderly').... We benefited greatly by hearing the sometimes contradictory directions 
their answers gave us." (Industrial design student) 


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Industrial design students' 
research presentation 

Interior design students' research included interviews with elderly people and 
members of the user groups; interviews with directors of senior housing and activity 
centers: panicipant observation at senior centers; visits to the local Center for 
Independent Living; attendance at a full-day workshop on the ADA by Cynthia 
Leibrock (author of Beautiful Barrier-Free); and interviews with agencies interested in 
the Ann Arbor Inn renovation. 

At the conclusion of the design research phase, students faced the challenge of 
organizing and presenting the scientific, statistical, and anecdotal data. Industrial 
design student teams prepared large-scale presentation boards that used both text and 
drawings to present the information. Interior design student teams prepared concise 
"Design Reference Sheets" for each user group for fellow students to use during 
design conceptualization and development. This handout described the disability fac- 
tually, identified the most common design concerns, and included an annotated bibli- 
ography of source material. 

Through research and the interactive programming experiences (panicipant obser- 
vations, interviews, and game play), design students came to know, understand, and 
empathize with the particular user group being investigated. Students served as advo- 
cates for their user groups for the duration of the semester. This included working 
with classmates to resolve design concerns and critiquing design proposals for their 
appropriateness for the particular user group. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 53 

Chapter 19: University of Michigan 

Interior design students ' 
design reference sheet for 
hearing impairment. 


There are many degrees of hearing impairment experienced by the 1 m 10 
Americans with a hearing loss. The medical and social problems experienced 
by people with a partial hearing loss are quite different from those experi- 
enced by people who have a total hearing loss. The two groups should not be 
grouped together indiscriminately. 

Deafness : A total or severe impairment of hearing. Individuals may use 
sign language and/or speech reading (i.e., lip reading) to compensate- for 
their hearing loss. Pre-lingual deafness occurs before auditory language 
skills are developed. Individuals often use sign language as the first lan- 
guage with English (or another spoken language) as a second language. 
Post lingual deafness occurs after auditory language skills are developed. 
Individuals typically have more advanced speaking skills and a better 
understanding of spoken language. 

Hard of hearing : A partial impairment of hearing, often the result of ill- 
ness, injury, or aging. Individuals typically use a spoken language to 
communicate. Individuals may benefit from surgery and/or hearing aides 
and may read lips to facilitate communication. 


*Specify and/or provide for use of assistive devises such as TDD attach- 
ments for the telephone, closed caption television decoders, vibrating 
alarm clocks, and blinking light alarms/timers. 

*Keep "visual noise" to a minimum to provide a neutral ground for sign- 

*Provide generous, non-glare lighting to facilitate speech reading or 

*Specify sound absorbing materials and finishes to minimize reflected 
noise and reduce background noise for those with a partial hearing 

^Specify appropriate electrical wiring and controls to permit lights to 
flicker when phone or doorbell rings. 

*Use visual icons for multiple cueing whenever possible. People who use 
sign as their first language may have difficulty understanding written 


'A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Came 


*Specify supplementary visual alert systems for fire alarms. 

*Provide alternate communication systems in locations where emergency 

phones are used. 
*Design furniture arrangements that do not profile people in front of 

window glazing to assist those who read lips or sign. 


Suss, Elaine. (1993). When the Hearing Gets Hard . New York: Plenum 
Publishing. A hearing impaired journalist discusses the problems 
experiences by people with hearing impairments in a "hearing world". 

Schein, Jerome. (1989). At Home Among Strangers . Washington,. DC: 
Galiuadet University Press. Informative text written by an educator at 
one of the foremost institutions of higher learning to help others 
understand the "deaf community". 

Rezen, Susan & Hausman, Carl. (1985). Cooing with a Hearing Loss . New 

York: Dembner Books. The book provides a sensitive discussion of the 


physical and psychological effects of hearing loss and suggests methods 
of coping with the related problems. 

Turkington, C. & Sussman, A. (1992). Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing 
Disorders . New York: Facts on File. Text defines words and terms, dis- 
cusses causes and characteristics of hearing impairments, and identi- 
fies assistive devices and support organizations. 

Ritter, Audrey (1985). A Deafness Collection: Selected and Annotated . 
Rochester Institute of Technology & The National Technical Institute for 
the Deaf. Bibliography of related readings. 

Van Itailie, Phillip. How to Live with a Hearing Handicap . New York: Paul 
Ericksson Inc. Author uses his own experiences as a person who is hard 
of hearing to help others with similar problems understand and adjust 
to the problems experienced in everyday life. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 155 

Chapter 19: University of Michigan 

Students and consultants 
participating in joint mid- 
term critique for interior 
design and industrial 
design students 

Working in their respective studios, students moved from design 
research to conceptualization. Industrial design students drew from the 
areas of difficulty most commonly cited by consultants to identify product 
opportunities. They selected four opportunities for design innovation: 
parking meters; eating utensils; wayfinding systems; and portable postural 
support systems. 

Interior design students began concept development for both the public 
spaces and the private apartments in the renovation project. 2 To encourage 
cooperative learning, the students worked in teams to develop proposals 
for the public spaces. They were required to recognize the needs of users 
of all ages and abilities by employing universal design guidelines in their 
proposals for the public spaces. Students used the concept of adaptable 
housing for the apartment units to improve the quality of life for all resi- 
dents. Each student developed a base plan for an apartment using univer- 
sal design criteria (e.g., wider doorways and adjustable height cabinetry). 
Modifications were then developed for different user groups (e.g., visual alarms for 
those with hearing impairments or removeable base cabinets for those who use a 
wheelchair). When done well, universal design implementation is invisible, i.e., it is 
simply perceived as good design. Therefore, students were asked to document their 
proposals for implementing universal design and adaptable housing considerations 
using both traditional design drawings (including sketches, floorplans, and elevations) 
and annotated overlays. 

Interior design student s 
model for an apartment 
based on universal design 
considerations and modifi- 
cations for particular user 

At the mid-term critiques, students from both programs presented their 
work to peers, faculty, consultants, and the UDEP advisor, Polly Welch. 
Students gained a better understanding of each discipline's design process 
during the lively discussions that celebrated successful iterations and identi- 
fied opportunities for improvements to ensure that the needs of all users 
would be fully addressed. 

The second half of the semester was spent in design development with 
frequent peer and faculty critiques within the respective studios. Although 
students from both schools might have benefited from more frequent inter- 
action, conflicting schedules made this logistically infeasible. An end-of- 
term presentation to the general public provided an opportunity for stu- 
dents to showcase their work. Faculty reserved an assembly hall and sent 
invitations to universitv administrators, colleagues, consultants, citv administrators 
involved in the decision making for the renovation project, and the press. The 
evening opened with one-on-one discussions of product solutions and apartment 
plans using a poster session format. The informal discussions and refreshments that 
followed the interior design student teams' presentation of the proposals for the 
public spaces provided an appropriate finale for the semester. 


'A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game' 


Students were overwhelmingly positive concerning their learning experiences dur- 
ing the semester-long UDEP project. Responses to the open-ended questions on the 
end-of-term evaluation forms indicated that students found the studio experiences to 
be challenging but rewarding. Many seemed to have adopted a universal design per- 
spective. When asked how universal design might impact them professionally, one 
responded succinctly, "I will design for it!" Many found that their understanding of 
the relationship between user needs and the physical environment changed. "[I've] 
become more aware of what actually limits one's freedom of choice." When asked 
what was the single most important thing learned that semester, one student replied, 
"to design for everyone, not just the 'average' individual." 

For a more formal evaluation, a pilot assessment project was 
initiated to assess the change in knowledge and attitude experi- 
enced by students participating in the UDEP project. UDEP stu- 
dents at both schools completed a brief questionnaire 3 at the begin- 
ning of the semester to determine their attitudes and knowledge of 
ADA guidelines, universal design, and the environmental problems 
associated with disability and lifespan issues. Students were retest- 
ed at the end of the semester to assess changes in knowledge or 
attitude. A second group of design students who were enrolled in 
a human factors class, completed the pre/post-tests as a comparison 
group. Format for the class included lectures, films, speakers, and 
empathic experiences such as using a wheelchair and navigating 
the environment while blindfolded. A third group of design stu- 
dents who were enrolled in a studio class, completed the pre-test, 
saw a video related to the universal design, and were retested. A fourth group of 
design students served as the control group. They were enrolled in a studio class and 
completed the pre/post-tests but had no specific introduction to ADA legislation or 
universal design principles. Scores for the five groups were compared 4 to assess the 
effectiveness of the UDEP project in acquiring knowledge and in promoting attitudinal 
change. Highlights from the analysis are summarized below. 5 

Students' present their pro- 
posals at an end-of-term 
eientfor the general public. 

The a priori expectation was that scores for industrial and interior design students 
who participated in the UDEP project could be combined. This proved to be infeasi- 
ble when major differences were discovered in the pretest analysis. Although 100 
percent of the interior design students indicated they were familiar with the ADA. onlv 
13 percent of the industrial design students did so. This familiarity probably reflects 
the mandate that interior design work comply with building codes. ADA guidelines. 
and barrier free legislation; there is no equivalent requirement for industrial design. 
However, chi square analysis indicated a statistically significant difference in post-test 
scores for industrial design students who participated in the UDEP project (87 percent) 

Strategies for Teack:>;^ I niversal Design 1 57 

University of Michigan 

when compared with scores for the control group (31 percent), indicating a signifi- 
cant change in knowledge of ADA associated with participation in the UDEP project. 

There were similar differences in industrial design students' and interior design 
students' pretest scores for correctly defining universal design (13 percent and 35 per- 
cent, respectively). Chi square analysis indicated statistically significant differences in 
post-test scores between interior and industrial design UDEP students and the control 
group, suggesting a significant change in knowledge of universal design associated 
with participation in the UDEP project. Post-test scores increased to 86 percent for 
industrial design students and 94 percent for interior design students, compared with 
a consistent 31 percent for the control group. 

Pre-test scores for the industrial design UDEP students indicated that 50 percent 
believed ADA would impact them professionally after graduation and 56 percent 
believed universal design would do so. Post-test scores increased to 75 percent for 
ADA and 94 percent for universal design, suggesting a change in attitude. Although 
pretest data indicated that 94 percent of the interior design UDEP students believed 
the ADA would impact them professionally after graduation, only 25 percent believed 
universal design would do so. Post-test scores increased to 100 percent for both 
questions, suggesting a significant change of attitude. 


Gaming. A Day's Journey Through Life& helped students obtain a more in-depth 
understanding of the task and performance needs of special populations and an 
appreciation for universal design considerations. The insights developed while play- 
ing the game with the consultants led to new conceptual directions through which to 
envision supportive environments. Students acquired an increased awareness of the 
value of integrating design features that expand the breadth of application and use. 

Cross-Disciplinary Understanding. Interaction between the interior and indus- 
trial design students enabled them to compare the design process used in each pro- 
fession, heightening their awareness of similar as well as distinctive aspects. Industrial 
design students gained a fuller understanding of the scope of the interior designer's 
role in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public through enhancement 
of the quality of life of the users. Interior design students came to understand the 
extent of human performance research initiated by industrial designers in order to 
develop design criteria that shape product configurations. 


"A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game' 

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Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 59 

Chapter 1 9: University of Michigan 

Industrial design student 
presents his portable seating 

Interaction of User, Product, and Place. Both groups of stu- 
dents gained a fuller understanding of the complex interactions that 
occur between the user and the environment. Their comprehen- 
sion of the mutual interdependence of the micro and macro ele- 
ments of objects and environments was enhanced by examining the 
interplay among product, place, and user. By advancing their 
understanding of the environmental context in which products are 
used, industrial design students became more sensitive to many 
aspects of accessibility, comfort, and ease of use. Interior design 
students benefited from the collaboration by developing an 
increased awareness of how the design of objects that constitute the 
micro-environment influences the behavior of the user and, ulti- 
mately, the design of the macro-environment. 

Based on their identification of product needs through the game, and their 
research related to kinesthetics, anthropometrics, and ergonomics, industrial design 
students developed a portable chair that could be adjusted to fit the comfort require- 
ments of a particular user. Interior design students, knowing that residents would be 
storing these chairs, moving them through the building, and using them in public 
places, utilized this information in developing their design proposals. 

A vivid illustration of the intersection between industrial and interior design stu- 
dents' concerns centered around wayfinding. Students initiated research on the 
process of wayfinding. The literature review indicated that peoples' primary means of 
directional information is visual. However, people who have a severe visual impair- 
ment rely upon their other senses — touch, hearing, and smell. The most commonly 
used cues include sound, light/dark contrast, temperature changes, and, most impor- 
tantly, changes in surface texture (Finkel. 1993). Insights gained from the game play 
identified a change in floor surfacing (e.g., color contrast, tactile and resiliency recep- 
tivity, and sound reflectivity) as one of the most useful cues in wayfinding. 

Students discovered that architectural cueing informed directional decisions. A 
person with sight may use a window in a hallway as a marker to find the door to the 
restroom; a person with visual impairment may also use the window as a marker by 
sensing a change in temperature, air pressure, or light levels. Students learned that 
people with vision impairments are acutely aware of the architectural design details 
that impede or assist them in wayfinding. The typical problems with wayfinding are 
exacerbated when there is an absence of architectural cueing. People with sight also 
experience frustration when the design of the building does not clearly communicate 
wayfinding information, but it is more difficult for a person with a visual impairment 
to recover after missing a cue (Finkel, 1993). Students realized that the integration of 
interior architectural features and surface finishes that offer redundant cueing would 
benefit both those who are visually impaired and those with good vision — a universal 
design solution. 


'A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game" 

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Industrial design students' 
design proposal for a guid- 
ance system for the Ann 
Arbor Inn renovation. 

Students from both disciplines were able to use this design research information 
to define performance criteria for the interior and product design solutions. An indus- 
trial design product team developed a guidance system that integrated environmental 
cues such as texture changes, sound reflectivity, and resiliency receptivity. The interi- 
or design students specified interior surface finishes with a rich diversity of texture 
(e.g.. smooth/rough wall finishes, soft/hard floor treatments) and specified a variation 
in lighting levels to provide redundant cueing for wayfrnding. 

Dispelling Myths. a I have met the enemy and he is us" (Pogo). Because peo- 
ple are often uncomfortable with anything different or unknown, and because disabili- 
ties remind them of their own frailty, some people disassociate themselves from those 
who have obvious physical differences. A Day's Journey Through Life& provided an 
opportunity for students to interact with people of different ages and abilities. Myths 
and phobias were dispelled as students realized that not only do they experience sim- 
ilar performance problems with environmental barriers, but they also share common 
dreams, expectations, and aspirations with people who are different from themselves. 

The students discovered that designers created many of the physical barriers that 
inhibit independent living. As students, however, they were being given an opportu- 
nity to develop the knowledge and skills to create products and places that can facili- 
tate access, interaction, and task accomplishment with ease, comfort, and safety. In 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 6 1 

Chapter 1 9: University of Michigan 

the words of one student, "I enhanced my knowledge of design this semester, but of 
greater importance, I learned more about people and myself than in any other course 
I have ever taken!" 

A New Paradigm. Universal design represents a major direction of current 
design theory: accessible, adaptable, and transgenerational design practices. When 
projects are designed using universal design precepts, the results can be aesthetically 
pleasing and cost effective as well as accessible to all. Instead of responding only to 
the minimum requirements of laws which mandate a few special features for individ- 
uals with disabilities, 'good design' can meet the needs of many different user groups. 

Design practitioners, however, need assistance in responding to the mandate that 
design should serve the broadest possible population, including people of different 
ages and ability levels. Many traditionally schooled educators and practitioners are 
poorly prepared to implement universal design concepts. Preconceptions and myths 
must be challenged with new perspectives and knowledge. Data collection instru- 
ments that involve the user in the design process are needed. Design criteria must be 
developed to define performance requirements for both products and the physical 

The UDEP project introduced a design research method that involves the D/F/E 
individual and the design student in a multilogue to identify the problems experi- 
enced in accomplishing the activities of daily living. The replication of this project 
can expand the repenoire of research methods available to design educators and 
practitioners, facilitate adoption of universal design guidelines, and facilitate a shift in 
paradigm from exclusive to inclusive design. 

Closing Thoughts. Collaboration between schools and disciplines is never as 
easy as a singular effort. The singular effort, however, is seldom as rewarding as col- 
laborative work. The increased understanding that accompanies collaborative work 
and the comprehensiveness of the design solutions make the effort worthwhile. 
Involvement of "real life" participants and incorporation of out-of-classroom experi- 
ences require more extensive preparation than simulated experiences; but the depth 
of understanding and commitment to problem resolution are enhanced by interac- 
tions with the ultimate users in the contextual setting. 

The benefits of structuring multidiscipline student research teams and playing A 
Day's Journey Through Life® with the consultants in their homes were demonstrated 
by the students' increased sensitivity to user needs and by the integration of universal 
design considerations into their projects. Students successfully translated the insights 
developed during the game into design decisions that reflected a commitment to 
enhancing the accessibility and use of both products and environments. Students are 


'A Day's Journey Through Life® — A Design Education Game 

more comfortable interacting with people of different ages and ability levels and have 
internalized pertinent design recommendations, regulations, and codes. Their projects 
reflect a heightened sensitivity to the design needs of people of different ages and 
abilities and a proficiency in the development of design criteria reflective of the needs 
of a diverse population. 

The administrations and fellow faculty at both universities were supportive of the 
UDEP project and are interested in sustaining students' commitment to the integration 
of universal design considerations. Lessons learned (e.g., remuneration for consultants 
to encourage full participation and additional opportunities for joint student activities 
to enhance understanding and respect) would make replication of the collaboration 
easier than the initial experience. The rewards justify the expenditure of time and 
energy required to ensure a positive experience for both students and 


Duke, R. (1991). People at play. UNESCO. New York: United Nations. 

Lusher, R. (199D- Universal design: Access to daily living. CADRE. Brooklyn, NY: 
Pratt Institute. 

Finkel. (1993). Wayfinding by people with visual impairments in the built environ- 
ment. Unpublished master's thesis. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba. 

Sekulski, R.; Jones, L; & Pastalan, L. (1994). A Day's Journey Through Life©: An 
Assessment Game. Paper presented at the Measuring Handicapping Environments 
Conference sponsored by The Adaptive Environments Laboratory. Buffalo, NY: 
State University of New York. 

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1992). 1990 Census of population & housing summary 
social, economic and housing characteristics of the United States. Washington D.C.: 
U.S. Government Printing Office. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 63 

Chapter 1 9: University of Michigan 


1. A Day's Journey Through Life®-. A Design Educational Game is derived from a 
generic game developed by Environmental Design for Aging Research Group 
(EDARG) associates Leon A. Pastalan, Louise Jones, Benyamin Schwarz, Ronald A. 
Sekulski, and Laura Struble. 

2. The senior interior design studio was team taught by Eastern Michigan 
University design faculty. Dr. Deb DeLaski-Smith supervised selection and spediflca- 
tion of materials, surface finishes, and furnishings; Dr. Louise Jones supervised design 
exploration and development including incorporation of universal design considera- 
tions as well as compliance with barrier free building codes and ADAAG; Abe 
Kadushin supervised time management plans and adaptive reuse considerations, 
including construction, HVAC, electrical and plumbing; Dr. Virginia North supervised 
programming and concept development, lighting design, and design presentation. 

3- The Center for Statistical Consultation and Research at the University of 
Michigan provided support and guidance in the design of the evaluation project and 
in the analysis of the data. 

4. The Center for Statistical Consultation and research at The University of 
Michigan provided support and guidance in the design of the evaluation project and 
in the analvsis of the data. 

5. Contact the authors for a complete reporting of the statistical analysis. 


University of Missouri — Columbia, MO 

■ Department of Environmental Design 



Educating Reflective Practitioners through Universal Design 


Educating design students to make sustained arguments, ethical commitments, and 
independent judgments based on internalized values is an overriding goal in teaching 
universal design at the University of Missouri. Using William Perry's theory on how- 
students think, faculty proposed to challenge students to move beyond dualist think- 
ing, that considers right or wrong, and relativistic thinking, that considers the context, 
to advanced reflective thinking. Kitchener and King (1990) describe the reflective 
thinker as "someone who is aware that a problematic situation exists and is able to 
bring critical judgment to bear on the problem." Along with Kitchener and King, 
James Davis (1993) advocates a teaching approach and "educational milieu" that help 
students move to the next stage of cognitive development. This can be done by 
introducing developmental!/ appropriate activities that stimulate students to evaluate 
where they are and consider the next alternative. 

University of Missouri faculty originally proposed to implement a program-wide 
enrichment through an awareness week, a design charrette, student reference kits, 
teaching packages, and public events. In addition, they planned to coordinate eight 
conferences in Missouri to provide hands-on experience to students, 4-H leaders, 
teachers, design professionals, and facility managers. Some of these activities were 
scaled back because of funding availability. 

Team members: 

Ruth Brent 
Benyamin Schwarz 
Gary Hennigh 


During the past academic year, the University of Missouri facilitated a broad range 
of activities involving students, faculty, outside guests, and community leaders. 
Universal design was integrated into the program through studio teaching, senior the- 
sis projects, lecture classes, faculty research, visits from universal design experts, and 
involvement of community organizations. These multiple efforts in universal design 
education were intended to bring all design students in the Department of 
Environmental Design to the reflective judgment level in learning. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 65 

Chapter 20: University of Missouri 

Two students critique one 
another's work. 

11 •$*- 

A graduate student empha- 
sizes access during a review. 

Dan Kem evaluates a 
student's design work. 


Studio Projects. The primary focus for teaching universal design was 
in a design studio for an assisted living project. It was supported by faculty 
research on assisted living for older adults. 1 This design studio combined 
the fundamental values of universal design with the realities of aging. The 
design program was to create an environment for older adults with disabili- 
ties who wanted to retain their independence while receiving the services 
they needed. A wide range of individual assistance would be available to 
residents in a homelike setting that ensured privacy and supported maxi- 
mum independence. Students were asked to design a small-scale, commu- 
nity-based facility, addressing issues at the level of the dwelling unit, the 
common space shared by the residents, and the site plan. 

All design faculty, a national expert on universal design, and persons 
with disabilities served as critics for the studio. Final projects were 
reviewed by the executive director and boardmembers of a retirement com- 
munity, faculty, three practicing designers, and four members of the col- 
lege's 50th Anniversary Graduating Class. 

In other studios, outside guests and field trips helped enrich the stu- 
dents' understanding of universal design. On two separate projects, stu- 
dents visited the homes of fellow students and a professional librarian — all 
of whom use wheelchairs. Students studied how these individuals resolved 
problems in their environments. 

Senior Thesis Projects. At the senior level, students in the environ- 
mental design program conduct an independent, capstone studio project of 
their choice. They write a thesis proposal and work intensively with a fac- 
ulty thesis advisor. One third of the graduating seniors chose to pursue a 
project on universal design. Projects included: 

• Intergenerational Daycare design of a facility for child and adult 
day care 

• Dementia Special Care Unit design for four levels of care 

• Camp for Children with Disabilities renovation of children's camp 

• ADA Assessment of Businesses in Downtown Columbia, MO 
(a quantitative and qualitative analysis of commercial locations). 


"Educating Reflective Practitioners through Universal Design' 

Lecture Courses. The junior-level lecture course, Resources and Materials, and 
the senior-level course, Design and Behavior, emphasized the promotional theme of 
ADA/Universal Design Week, "Beyond ADA to Universal Design." The week included 
the showing of universal design films, a blindfolded walk across campus, and student 
participation in the Access Office Wheel-a-thon. Field trips offered students multiple 
opportunities to learn about barriers in buildings, to discuss alternatives for correcting 
them, and to consider their personal judgments and values. In the Resources and 
Materials course, a faculty article on design foundations and assertions was the basis 
for a discussion on values in universal design. 2 

Faculty Involvement While some faculty are more knowledgeable about ADA 
and universal design than others, all faculty participated in teaching universal design. 
Three faculty are environmental gerontology researchers, one faculty member attended 
the UDEP conference, and three others heard Elaine Ostroff, director of UDEP. speak 
at the Interior Design Educators Council annual meeting. Having a critical 
mass of faculty was significant in transmitting this subject matter to all 
design students. Knowledge of universal design gained from lectures was 
integrated at more advanced levels of learning in the studio, where students 
were internalizing a set of values in creating new places for people. 
Faculty's ongoing research in this area further demonstrates to students an 
intellectual advocacy of universal design principles. 3 

National Expert Regular classroom instruction was enhanced by the 
visit of a nationally recognized expert on universal design, UDEP advisor 
John Salmen. He gave the keynote address, ''Beyond ADA to Universal 
Design," at Universal Design Week; participated in a design critique; con- 
sulted with a student on her senior thesis project; and met with faculty and 
sponsors. Faculty in three courses featured the lecture as part of their classes. Guests 
from the community brought the total audience to more than two hundred people. 
The presentation was videotaped and covered by the Mid-Missouri Busiitess Magazine . 

LDEP Adiisor John Salmen 
presenting at Uriiversal 
Design Week. 

While on campus, Salmen participated in a meeting with program faculty and 
Extension field faculty at which each person described his or her teaching and 
research interests. He discussed instructional strategies, recommended film and written 
materials, and helped brainstorm future funding opportunities. He also met with the 
Dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, the Associate Dean for 
Research, and the Assistant Dean for Student Services. 

Student Involvement A student with a disability had an opportunity to do some 
teaching by bringing to the attention of faculty that the announcement for the public 
lecture did not include the clause: "If special accommodations are necessary, please 
contact. .." Adding a new "W"' to the age-old checklist of Who, What. Where. When. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Desi^>: 1 67 

Chapter 20: University of Missouri 

and Why would help assure that all persons are welcomed. Integrating the "wel- 
coming" variable is an important step in realizing universal design, similar to the 
notion that universal design should not be taught as a specific class per se, but 
should be part of the gestalt of design education. 

Advisory Board Member Participation- One of the department's advisory 
board members offered another instructional resource. Chuck Graham, who leads a 
iVIidwest training project on the Americans with Disabilities Act supported by the 
U.S. Department of Justice, participated in teaching by regularly speaking to classes 
and student groups, and serving on design critique panels. 

Partnering with Community Agencies. A number of community organiza- 
tions sponsored the keynote address and actively supported the program's effort to 
incorporate universal design in the classroom: American Society of Interior 
Designers, MU Student Chapter; American Institute of Architects, Mid-Missouri 
Chapter; Access Office for Students with Disabilities; Department of Environmental 
Design; Great Plains ADA Project; Human Resource Services, MU; Services for 
Independent Living; University Extension 4 ; Campus Planning Committee for Facilities 
and Grounds, MU; and Campus Facilities, MU. 

Representatives from the above agencies attended the keynote address and par- 
ticipated in a work session after the lecture to discuss future cooperation. At this 
work session, various types of partnerships were discussed such as employment and 
volunteer opportunities and faculty leadership on the campus planning committee. 
It was suggested that community participation be expanded to include the Chamber 
of Commerce to reinforce the goal of more businesses being made accessible. The 
idea that organizations might fund student charrette prize money emerged in a brain- 
storming session. 


Clearly, this project forced the department to focus and expose faculty and stu- 
dents to the issues of universal design. It also helped raise attention and awareness 
at the college and campus levels. 

While this educational project succeeded in advocating universal design, the 
challenge of educating reflective design practitioners who are capable of making sus- 
tained arguments and ethical commitments continues. Universal design education in 
the university setting must concentrate on approaches based on "technical rationali- 
ty" as well as "reflection in action." Thinking at advanced levels of the psychomotor, 


'Educating Reflective Practitioners through Universal Design 1 

cognitive, and affective domains 5 also gives designers the freedom to reflect, "The challenge ofteach- 

invent, and differentiate as a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1983). 

ing universal design is 

Focusing education on awareness of problems is at the lowest level of matched by the deficit of 

learning. Simply recognizing the "right way to meet ADA guidelines" is not 

sufficient. Learning to identify the doors that need widening, the restroom fix- ^QSQavciO on toe subject. 
aires that need repositioning, or places to add Braille signage is just not 
enough. To teach our students problem solving, we give them guidelines to help 
them make decisions. This assumes they will select from available means a solution 
best suited to establish ends. An emphasis on problem solving, however, can ignore 
problem setting. As Schon argues, "Problem setting is a process in which, interactive- 
ly, we name the things to which we will attend and frame the context in which we 
will attend to them." Students have to be introduced to processes by which to define 
decisions before they can advance to levels of learning where they can independently 
make judgments based on their internalized values for human rights. 

The educational milieu for reflective learning must be attentive to student percep- 
tions and needs in their physical environment as well as the philosophical environ- 
ment. Students were enthusiastic about participating in empathic experiences such as 
the blindfold walk across campus, use of wheelchairs, and use of a kit of materials 
donated by an advisory board member from a national furniture manufacturing com- 
pany. The physical environment where universal design is being taught, however, 
does not necessarily mirror the educational milieu. Perhaps, symbolically, during 
AD A/Universal Design Week, renovations for ADA compliance were completed on the 
restrooms in the studio building. Providing physical facilities that are supportive to 
students with disabilities was a visible message to all students that the program affirms 
universal design. 

The challenge of teaching universal design is matched by the deficit of research on 
the subject. There is a need for collaboration between practitioners and reflective 
researchers to study issues of universal design and its implementation. Researchers 
need insight into practice and practitioners need to reveal the ways of thinking that 
they bring to their practice. Reflective research allows practitioners to gain insight as 
they look for effective ways to improve the physical environment for all people. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 69 

Chapter 20: University of Missouri 


Davis, James R. (1993). Better Teaching, More Learning. Phoenix, AZ: American 
Council on Education The Oryx Press. 

Gronlund, Norman E. (1981). Measurement and Evaluation in Teaching. NY: 

Kitchener, Karen and Patricia King. (1990). "The reflective judgment model: 

Transforming assumptions about knowing" in Jack Mezirow, ed., Fostering Critical 
Reflection in Adulthood. 

Perry, William. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College 
Years: A Scheme. NY: Holt, Rinehan and Winston. 

Schon, Donald A. (1983)- The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in 
Action. NY.: Basic Books. 


1. Eldercare in the U.S. and in several other countries around the world is in 
transition, shifting away from the medical model of long-term care toward models that 
combine medical care with supportive housing and social services. Descriptions and 
definitions of this "new" model vary. Provision of the same kind of services may be 
called assisted living, board and care, personal care homes, residential care facilities, 
rest homes and others. However, one of the key variables shared among the philoso- 
phies of operation of these new facilities is the environmental design of the settings. 
These designs emphasize home-like living units and attempt to address effectively the 
wants as well as the needs of frail elderly. The physical environment represents an 
important component of the quality of life for older people. Its primary goal in this 
context is to maximize a person's independence, lifestyle choices, opportunities for 
social interaction, privacy, and safety and security. 

2. fournal of Interior Design. No 1, Vol. 19, 1993. "Hands-On Approach to the 
Americans with Disabilities Act," pp. 47-50. 

3. A paper on access to design education by persons with learning disabilities, 
"Nurturing Design Students with Learning Disabilities," by Ruth Brent, Benyamin 
Schwarz, and Richard Helmick is pending publication. 


"Educating Reflective Practitioners through Universal Design*' 

4. Linkage with University Extension assured the greatest mileage from resources 
because they serve as a clearinghouse for resources to be catalogued and available for 

5. Norman Gronlund (1976) divides teaching into the psychomotor, cognitive, and 
affective domains. The psychomotor domain ranges from perceiving and imitating to 
a more advanced level of being able to perform independently and automatically. 
The cognitive domain ranges from a basic level of recognizing to a more advanced 
level of making a judgment. The affective domain ranges from the lower awareness 
level to the more sophisticated level of internalizing a set of values. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 7 1 

University of South Florida — Tampa, FL 

Architecture Program 



A Summer Workshop to Raise Awareness 


As Director of the Architecture Program, I proposed to formally and permanently 
integrate universal design issues into the program's curriculum. The program is 
somewhat unique among architecture schools because it is exclusively a graduate 
program and has made a point of integrating ethical issues into every aspect of its 
curriculum. The faculty is committed to user needs, not giit-of-the-gods object design. 
This is an opportunity to change the direction of architectural education which, for 
the last two decades at least, has gone in the direction of the architecture of ideas, 
and of objects, with less and less focus on the user. Information on lifespan design is 
available, as the sponsors bibliography attests. Implementation strategies are required 
to re-focus architecture on its users. 

Team members: 

Alexander Ratensky 

Program Director 
Steven Cooke 

Assistant Professor 
Theodore Trent Green 

Assistant Professor 
James Moore 

Associate Professor 
Daniel Powers 

Associate Professor 
Susan Behar 

Interior Design Consultant 

We proposed a ten-week summer-session design workshop as the primary com- 
ponent of our project, involving six to eight students and all available faculty in the 
department. Running in parallel with this workshop was to be a less structured dis- 
cussion seminar for which students would be compensated. The discussion sessions 
were intended as the primary place where materials for subsequent teaching efforts 
would be developed. 

Nothing in this proposal is, in itself, revolutionary. Its strength is its inclusiveness. 
The project will not be the special province of one faculty member, but rather will 
raise universal design as an issue for the whole faculty and the whole curriculum. 
Although faculty and students are familiar with issues of disability and have been 
involved in completing the ADA assessment for the university, the program curricu- 
lum was missing a systematic approach to teaching universal design and lifespan 


Our course was described as follows: 

Universal/Lifespan Design Workshop 

Summer 1993, Monday & Wednesday, 4-6:45 p.m. 

Faculty: Ratensky, Cooke. Powers. Green. Moore, Susan Behar 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 73 

Chapter 2 1 : University of South Florida 

This hands-on design workshop for 6-8 students and several full-time faculty and 
an adjunct practitioner will explore the meaning and practice of universalAifespan 

UniversalAifespan design addresses the differing abilities, physical and mental, of 
people of different age groups, as well as those with environmental, accidental, or 
congenital challenges. 

"Universal design means simply designing all products, buildings, and exterior 
spaces to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible. It is advanced here 
as a sensible and economical way to reconcile the artistic integrity of a design with 
human needs in the environment. Solutions which result in no additional cost 
and no noticeable change in appearance can come about from knowledge about 
people, simple planning, and careful selection of conventional products. " — 
Ronald L. Mace, Graeme f. Hardie, Jaine P. Place, Accessible Environments: 
Toward Universal Design (Center for Accessible Housing, North Carolina State 

For our design project we have in mind a housing type sometimes referred to as 
"co-housing, " located adjacent to USFs Tampa campus. Issues of privacy and 
mutual dependence will be explored. During the workshop, programmatic and 
cost-effectiveness issues associated with universal design will also be explored. We 
intend to pursue the eventual actual construction of a prototype residence. 

Our methods will include ongoing videotaping of the workshop, and occasional 
videotape review and discussion sessions to extract key issues or breakthroughs. 
The faculty will develop curriculum ideas and components that can be integrated 
with regular course materials. Students will be expected to participate in the discus- 
sions that will develop these teaching materials for the regular curriculum, and will 
each be paid a $500 honorarium to compensate them for the additional time. 

As a student in the course you will be participating, along with your faculty, in a 
nationwide project to improve design school curricula in these areas. Here's a 
chance to gain elective or technical elective credits, earn a modest sum, influence 
the architectural curriculum, and gain knowledge that will increase your value to 
future employers. 


'A Summer Workshop to Raise Awareness 1 









The strategy of paying students to participate in the course was to give them colle- 
gial status with faculty in the critical discussion of course materials. Because of student 
commitments to other classes in the summer session, the discussions were postponed 
from summer to fall. 

In the fall we undertook another class. As an outcome of our summer experi- 
ences. Professor Daniel Powers made universal/lifespan design an integral part of 
third-semester design. His exercises included a weekend at home with a wheelchair 
for every student and an exercise simulating visual impairment. He set a three-stage 
design problem: the design of a residence for a newly married couple, an expansion 
to include children, and a further expansion to include aging grandparents, one of 
whom uses a wheelchair. These exercises are seen as a first component of universal 
design teaching that will span three studios and be reinforced in lecture classes, 
including Professional Practice and Environmental Technology. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 75 

Chapter 21: University of South Florida 


The deferred seminar discussions described above occurred in October. Each stu- 
dent contributed approximately forty hours of effort to accomplish the following: 
represent two of the projects from the summer and relevant code requirements in 
illustrations that are accessible to the nondesigner; complete a library of equipment 
information and samples of materials and products that support the underlying princi- 
ples of universal design; develop a directory to agencies, people, and other resources 
in the Tampa Bay region who are engaged in assisting persons with disabilities; and 
provide pro bono design assistance to the Access Sub-Committee of The [Tampal 
Mayor's Alliance for Person's with Disabilities. Such real-world exer-cises were very 
stimulating to the students and we are certain that we will be able to find similar 
opportunities at least once each year. 


In our ten-week summer workshop we made many blunders. Indeed, we dis- 
covered new ways to teach universal design badly. What is remarkable is the extent 
to which the teaching succeeded despite our blunders, and the remarkable persis- 
tence of interest in the subject matter on the part of the students. We have con- elud- 
ed that it is the compelling nature of the subject matter and the consultants we used 
that sustained students' interest and learning. 

Our first error was in setting design criteria that were too general. Our original 
program was for twelve units of affordable rental housing to be built adjacent to the 
University of South Florida. Because architecture faculty predominated in our group, 
it became evident that the issues for universal design — effort, placement, simple 
motion, and choice — were not getting addressed. Once we realized this and started 
to design the units, progress was pretty rapid. 

Nevertheless, we were unprepared for the resistance we encountered from stu- 
dents. Most of us have infrequent contact with persons with serious disabilities in this 
culture, and the tendency of students to condescend, either verbally or by providing 
limited opportunity in their designs, was surprising. It took almost the full ten weeks 
for them to internalize the issues and raise their levels of sensitivity. As late as week 
eight, one of our students referred to "something that even a 'normal' person could 
do" in conversation with a consultant who is a wheelchair user. Fortunately, the con- 
sultant was not offended, and the event became the breakthrough for that particular 


'A Summer Workshop to Raise Awareness'* 










These experiences, reinforced by feedback from the students, have led us to con- 
clude that the summer session should have been much less a design studio and much 
more a lecture/seminar/field trip format. Familiarization with individuals, role-playing 
experiments to simulate various disabilities, and field observation are all important. 
The design component was essential, but we would not again make it the principal 
armature of such a course. The whole issue of code interpretation was of much 
greater importance than we realized. We will be developing materials to make code 
requirements visual and readily understandable to students and the public. 

In week two of the summer session we were given two wheelchairs. These 
proved to be the single most effective aspect of the course. Everyone in the class 
used the wheelchairs at one time or another to move around the program premises. 
All discovered how differently things look from a seated perspective. At our final 
class wrap-up the students volunteered that there was "a lot of stuff' in the studios 
intruding into the aisles that would impede a wheelchair user. This had been the fac- 
ulty's observation too. but it was gratifying to have the students articulate it. 

The second most useful teaching strategy was the consultants. Articulate and self- 
aware persons with disabilities make wonderful studio critics. Our consultants were 
very clear on the unnecessary limitations imposed by the built environment. Our 
favorite consultant saw every unit our students designed as a dwelling for himself. He 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 77 

Chapter 21: University of South Florida 



--■ a /t - 
















*A Summer Workshop to Raise Awareness' 

lives with his parents, and made clear the limits of privacy and dependence that he 
and they are willing to tolerate. Subsequent class discussion allowed us to generalize 
the input from this man. Our consultants came from the community. One had con- 
tacted us some years ago about co-sponsoring an ADA seminar and was the lead to 
the others. They were excited that the Architecture Program was involved in UDEP 
and "their" issues. 

The most helpful tool for discussions with consultants was unit models at V-V 
scale. This is dollhouse scale and, therefore, easy to furnish. Our models were made 
of corrugated cardboard, and were easy to make, tear apart, and rearrange. These 
became a primary tool for the critique. 

What have we learned? At this stage, faculty believe that universal design needs 
to become an integral, repeated, component of our design studios. At least two of 
the six students who completed the course disagree and want a separate elective 
course. This will form pan of our discussions this fall. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 79 

University of Southwestern Louisiana — Lafayette, LA 

Collaboration between Interior Design, Architecture, 
and Industrial Design 



Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class 


This team proposed to develop a course in the School of Architecture that would 
expose students to the concept of universal design through personal experiences with 
people different from themselves. While the ADA is necessary to ensure protection of 
people's civil rights, these educators, among others, question the value of design crite- 
ria in stimulating a creative approach to inclusive design. Does holding a student 
accountable for implementing minimum guidelines for accessibility provide them with 
an understanding of the people for whom they design? Roberts' and Powell's goal 
was to move beyond the application of architectural guidelines for accessibility to pro- 
vide opportunities for awareness so that students can design from personal sensitivity 
and empathic connection to the issues. 

Team members: 

Charlotte Roberts 
Assistant Professor 

Brian Powell 
Assistant Professor 

They proposed two levels of implementation. On the departmental level, they 
sought to enhance the resource materials available to faculty and students of the three 
programs. On the instructional level, they planned a course with the objective of 
increasing student awareness and sensitivity to the diverse needs of the population 
through direct contact with persons with disabilities. 

To accomplish this object, the project proposed to enroll students with disabilities 
as participants in the course along with design students. Raymond Lifchez's video, 
documenting design studio activities that involve persons with disabilities as outside 
consultants, emphasizes the importance of direct contact as a means of increasing stu- 
dent awareness. Collaboration between design students and nondesign students pro- 
vides individuals in both groups with reciprocal opportunities. Design students con- 
tribute their expertise about the built environment and learn about people who are 
'differently abled.' Students with disabilities provide a view of life from their various 
perspectives and leam how they can become actively engaged in shaping their world 
through participation in the design process (Lifchez. 1979). 

The course strived to provide a foundation in universal design through three com- 
ponents: awareness, knowledge, and application. The awareness component would 
be introduced through experiential activities exposing the students to attitudinal and 
communication barriers as well as bamers in the built environment. The knowledge 
component, through lectures and handouts, would provide an overview of human 
factors, functional limitations, accessibility guidelines, and design process. The appli- 
cation of universal design concepts would be achieved by having student teams 
design projects with each member contributing according to his or her ability. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 22: University of Southwestern Louisiana 


A faculty workshop was held at the beginning of fall semester to open a dialogue 
on universal design education and to engage the rest of the faculty* in bringing univer- 
sal design into their classrooms and studios. 

The course in universal design was held during fall semester as a three-hour elec- 
tive. The course was targeted to upper level design students from the architecture, 
interior design, and industrial design programs and students with various disabilities 
who were not design majors. Enrollment of students with disabilities was encouraged 
by offering them credit on an equal basis with design students. The format of the 
class was participatory and was structured to be nonthreatening to students without a 
design background. 

Enrolling nondesign students raised challenging questions: Where do we find a 
sufficient number of students with disabilities and how do we convince them to 
enroll? How do we teach design to a nondesign student? How will they fit in and 
not feel intimidated by the abilities of the upper-level design students? 

We worked with two organizations on campus in recruiting nondesign students 
for enrollment in the course. The Beacon Club, a student organization, is dedicated to 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

awareness of disability issues. The Office for Services for Students with Disabilities, 
which assists qualifying students with all facets of campus life, including counseling, 
academic advising, and accommodations, was also helpful. 

The group. 

The instructors distributed a recruitment flyer to explain the objectives of the 
course. Students were asked to submit personal data and a brief explanation of what 
they expected to contribute to the course in the way of skills, abilities, and experi- 
ences. Enrollment was selective because of space limitations and the importance of a 
workable ratio between design students and nondesign students. 

Student participants included nine design majors and six nondesign majors. The 
design majors included one student in architecture, one in industrial design, and seven 
in interior design. Of the nondesign majors, three used wheelchairs: one had quadri- 
plegic limitations and spoke with a mechanical larynx: one student was deaf: one 
was visually impaled: and one was blind. The extended family' included two sign- 
ing interpreters and a dog guide. 

A primary concern of the faculty was to provide a safe and accessible environ- 
ment for ease of movement and communication. The first obstacle was finding a 
place for the class to meet. The studio spaces in our building are equipped with thir- 
ty-six inch high desks, which are unsuitable for persons using wheelchairs. The stu- 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 22: University of Southwestern Louisiana 

dio spaces are shared by the three programs, making it difficult to create the protect- 
ed environment necessary for a more intimate exchange. A ground-level stage fur- 
nished with large tables and stools became our classroom. An adjacent auditorium 
was available for lectures, slide and video projection, and presentation of projects. 

The textbook selected for the course was Design Primer: Universal Design, 
(Anders, 1992). It provided an introduction to universal design and information on 
various human factors to be considered when designing products and environments. 
In selecting handouts for the course, the intention was to provide basic information 
which would stimulate participation in class discussions and exercises. Over the 
course of the semester guest lecturers were invited to provide specific information. 
The instructors elected not to use accessibility guidelines for instructional purposes, 
but instead encouraged students to find available reference materials on their own 
and to gather further information through direct contact with people and the 

The success of the course depended on the students' confidence in communicat- 
ing and interacting with one another. At the beginning of the semester several inter- 
active exercises encouraged open communication between the two groups of stu- 
dents and put everyone on an equal footing. Short writing exercises and guided dis- 
cussions were introduced at various times throughout the semester and students were 
encouraged to reflect on and share their experiences. Different seating arrangements 
were tried: dividing students into small groups or placing them face-to-face to facili- 
tate exchange. By rotating team members for each project or activity, everyone had 
an opportunity to work with everyone else. 


On the first day of class, the students were asked to introduce themselves, telling 
about their interests and academic background, why they enrolled in the course, and 
what they expected to contribute and to learn. At the next class meeting, to put 
everyone on a first name basis right away, students introduced a classmate that they 
had just met and told the group a little about that person. 

Signing Exercise. As a first assignment, students were asked to give a brief 
greeting to the class using the signing alphabet or any other nonverbal means of 
communication. A handout illustrated the American Sign Language alphabet. An 
interior design student, Colleen, created a pie-shaped puzzle that spelled "universal 
design" in signing symbols when put together correctly. Each student was given a 
slice of the pie and had to place it correctly to help complete the message. A suc- 


"Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

cessful ice breaker, the exercise challenged everyone to communicate in a way that 
was unfamiliar to them. 

Awareness Discussion. Two handouts — Unbandicapping Our Language 
(Longmore, 1990) and Guidelines for Communicating with People with Disabilities 
(Adaptive Environments, 1990) — were a springboard for discussing stu- 
dents'assumptions about abilities and limitations. Nondesign students were 
asked to respond to the handout recommendations in light of their personal 
experience. Danielle, a student who is blind, was asked how she felt about 
the recommendation, "touch a person's arm lightly when you speak." She 
responded that it was not necessary to touch her when speaking, but that 
she finds it rude when people leave a conversation without announcing 
their departure. The guidelines were very useful in explaining to students 
that Danielle's dog guide, Fagan, while in harness, was not to be touched, 
spoken to, or in any way distracted from its duty to Danielle. 

Other students talked about barriers they encounter in day-to-day life, 
both in the built environment and in people's attitudes. Design students 
asked questions and related their own experiences involving people with 
disabilities, many describing their feelings of not knowing what to say or 
how to act. This exchange of feelings and needs put the students more at 
ease and gave them the confidence to approach each other. 


Visual Documentation Project In this interactive assignment, stu- 
dents documented an encounter with the environment. They used meth- 
ods similar to those outlined by Lifchez for interviewing and gathering infor- 
mation about the lives of persons who have disabilities. The purpose of 
documenting an encounter with the site, according to Lifchez, is to provide 
information beyond what the personal interview can convey. Pictures or 
video can be used to capture what takes place for discussion after the actu- 
al event (Lifchez, 1979). 

Teams of students selected sites on or near campus and proposed activ- 
ities and the means of visual documentation they would use. Students con- 
tinued to learn more about one another in planning the proposals. Doug, 
teamed up with Danielle, boldly stated, "I don't want this to come out 
wrong, but I've always been intrigued by blindness, with what it is like to 
be blind." Her response was a very revealing discourse on being blind. 

Students selected a playground at a nearby park, the main entrance ramp at the 
university library, an elevator in a classroom building, and the suite of offices which 
provide services to students with disabilities. One team proposed to use black and 


Strategies for Teaching Universal I I 85 

Chapter 22: University of Southwestern Louisiana 

white still photography supplemented by descriptions in Braille text. The other three 
teams proposed to videotape their encounters. Doug offered to teach all members of 
his team to use the video camera, including Danielle. Her segment of videotaping 
proved to be outstanding because of her ability to track voices. 

The documentation activity was scheduled for one class period but, due to techni- 
cal difficulty with the equipment, two class periods were required. This problem 
enabled students to observe each other in the process of their documentation. 
Students became profoundly aware of the time and effort it takes a wheelchair user to 
get around campus. At the library, the slate surface of the ramp was wet and class- 
mates wimessed Leroy's struggle to maneuver his wheelchair up to the entrance. 
Cheri, an interior design student commented, "I don't see why he didn't just give up." 
Students observed how others, not in the class, averted their eyes and passed Leroy 
without offering assistance. Because Leroy had become a friend, the students were 
personally affected by this event. 

Design students. Kolla and Heather, who documented the inaccessibility of a 
small elevator in black and white photographs, captured a small child trying to reach 
the call buttons and a very large man crowding into the elevator with other people. 
Octave, one of the team members, demonstrated the process of disassembling the 
footrests on his oversized motorized wheelchair so that he could fit into the elevator 
to attend class on an upper floor. 

The site model 

For the park documentation, the students filmed Keith trying to maneuver his 
wheelchair around obstacles in the newly designed playground and park landscaping. 
This illustrated how a facility intended for fun and family gathering denied participa- 
tion to someone in a wheelchair. 

In documenting the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities, the 
team proposed to illustrate communication difficulties that occur in the reg- 
ular course of business. The office provides part-time employment for stu- 
dents with disabilities. Glennis, a member of the class who is deaf, works 
as receptionist. Posted signs give instructions to people seeking assistance, 
but people tend to ignore the signs and get impatient in their attempts to 
communicate with her. The team staged a reenactment of a typical 
encounter. While at this site, Misty, who is visually impaired, demonstrated 
the process of translating written text into Braille. 

Experiential Activity. In preparation for exercises in site analysis and 
planning, students were introduced to a scale model of the project site while blind- 
folded. This activity provided an empathic experience by having students assume a 
visual disabilitv. An architecture student. Kerwin, constructed the model using various 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

materials to provide tactile cues. A scale element was provided so that students could 
estimate the size of the site. Heather was surprised: "Being a very visual person, it 
was challenging to interact with the site by touch alone. The size of the model 
looked completely different than it felt." The model proved to be very useful 
throughout the semester because Danielle used it to participate in activities that are 
normally visually oriented. 

Site Analysis. This assignment asked students to prepare an analysis of a given 
site. On a site plan, each team had to graphically represent factors such as natural 
elements, sun angles, prevailing winds, and relationship to adjacent properties as well 
as functional criteria such as drainage, noise, traffic, and possibilities for access to the 
site from adjacent streets. 

Both the site analysis and planning exercises were executed in a simple cut-and- 
paste technique. Shapes cut from colored paper and other materials symbolized aes- 
thetic, climatic, and landscape elements. In the spirit of inclusion, infonnation was 
transferred to Danielle's site model to reflect the analysis executed by her team. 

Site Planning- As a prelude to this exercise, students were asked to reflect on 
and describe in writing an ideal neighborhood, either fictitious or real. By sharing 
these "stories," students were able to identify the common values considered impor- 
tant to the concepts of neighborhood and community. 

The site planning exercise involved designing a neighborhood that was universally 
accessible. The design problem was to enhance the spirit of community and promote 
interaction among the residents. Two-dimensional collage was the medium 
used to represent vehicular and pedestrian access, parking, an unspecified 
number of home sites, and amenities such as green spaces, outdoor gather- 
ing spaces, and areas for recreational activities. 

Field Trip. After the planning exercise the class took a field trip to a 
national park facility. Students used an accessibility checklist from the text- 
book to conduct a survey of the new park exhibit building, which was not 
yet open to the public. They compiled a list of recommendations for 
adjustments and improvements such as providing more readable signage. 
Braille leaflets, and interpreters who could communicate in signing lan- 
guage. They also identified potential hazards such as inadequate handrails 
and landings at the entrance ramp. 

Storyline and Scenario Mapping. These exercises, modeled after techniques 
outlined by Lifchez (1979), were a means of collecting information and providing a 
broader picture regarding the needs of the user in a specified activity. In the "story- 

Scenano mapping 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 87 

Chapter 22: University of Southwestern Louisiana 

line" exercise, students were to reflect on the phrase "having dinner with the family 
on a Sunday afternoon in April" and write a short story giving details of how this 
event might look. 

With scenario mapping, the students translated their storylines into collages 
depicting the Sunday dinner event. Furniture and objects were represented by 
shapes that resembled the actual items. Scale figures represented the people involved 
in the activity. Students symbolically represented qualities with measurable proper- 
ties, such as light, heat, and sound, as well as properties of a more subjective nature, 
such as intimacy, warmth, and hospitality, by placing shape or color where the quali- 
ty is experienced. An idea that could not be expressed through shape or color could 
be written on the construction itself. Students worked individually on this exercise 
with the exception of Danielle, who was assisted by Kerwin in making her collage. 

Designing the living Environment. The design project involved programming 
a home for a fictitious family, selecting a home site from the site planning exercise, 
and designing the actual home. Each team began by creating a story about a day in 
the life of the family. Programs were developed, based on these stories. The stu- 
dents collaborated on the design of an accessible floor plan to meet the needs of 
individual family members as stated in the program. Study models were used to help 
nondesign students understand three dimensional space. In presenting the design, 
the goal was not a finely crafted product, typical of a regular design studio, but rather, 
simple constructions of cardboard, paper, and glue that allowed for hands-on partici- 
pation by everyone involved. 

Whenever team projects were assigned during the semester, each team 
member identified an area of primary responsibility for the project accord- 
ing to his or her own ability. For example, tasks for the design project 
involved drawing floor plans, building models, writing descriptions of the 
project and the program, and verbally presenting the projects. Each student 
selected a primary task while contributing in the other areas as well. The 
students collectively built a large-scale site model of the entire community 
for the placement of individual houses. Presentations of the design project 
were made on the final day of class with everyone participating. 



'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 


Students were graded for their level of participation in the course and 
degree of interaction with other students. Projects and exercises were eval- 
uated for content and demonstration of knowledge and understanding. 
The final exam was a take-home questionnaire asking students to assess 
what they had learned from the projects and activities and from interaction 
with their classmates. 

The primary purpose of the course was to change students' attitudes by 
developing their awareness of and sensitivity to people who have differing 
needs. To evaluate changes in attitude from the beginning of the course to the end. 
the instructors conducted videotaped entrance and exit interviews with individual stu- 
dents. Class activities were also photographed and videotaped, providing supporting 
information on the changes in attitude that occurred. Post-course observations of stu- 
dents who had participated further documented the impact of the course. 

''Anything that I design will 
be universally accessible, 
not because of laws or 
codes, but because I want 
it that way. Universal 
design is part of my code 
of ethics now. " 

The instructors recorded events and commentary in journals as 
another means of observing attitudes and evaluating the success of 
the exercises. From those records came comments indicating that 
awareness and sensitivity were being enhanced by this experience. 
After participating in a site analysis exercise, Glennis commented. 
"At home I noticed how the sun lights my backyard in the morning 
and how mv neighbor's vard is a bad view." Earlv in the semester. 
Leroy observed, "I was concerned about learning to design, but so 
far we are learning about people, [long pause] I guess you have to 
know about people before you can design for them." 

The course had some unexpected outcomes. Building on the 
idea of pairing students with disabilities with able-bodied students, 
Leroy proposed a campus evacuation plan that would designate 
able-bodied sponsors at the beginning of each semester to assist 
their disabled classmates in case of an emergency. His plan has 
been approved by the university administration. He claims that his 
participation in the course has enabled him to get more involved 
with life and with helping others. 

Design students who participated in the course were observed 
informallv bv facultv during the following semester. Two of the stu- 
dents were seniors in interior design and were involved in semester- 
long thesis projects. Kim's thesis, a children's museum, included 
exhibits designed to teach children about cultural diversity. One 


BL&amw j*&cpmi 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design I 89 

Chapter 22: University of Southwestern Louisiana 

"Direct contact with StU- exhibit provided children with the experience of various disabilities, such as 

limited vision and using a wheelchair. Trade's thesis involved the design of 
dents With disabilities was prototypical apartment units that were universally accessible. She devel- 
T 7 , r oped a set of criteria for the design of cabinets, appliances, and fixtures as 

an invaluable means tor , , . ... ° _, : . rK , . , , , 

J part of a modular wall-hung system. The sensiuvity expressed in both the- 

pTOViding design Students sis projects indicates that these students were greatly influenced by their 

participation in the course on universal design. 

with sensitivity and aware- 
ness of diverse human The faculty reviewed videotaped entrance and exit interviews for indicators 
, „ such as language use: how students refer to one another, what their 

assumptions are, and what they perceive as their ability to contribute. The 
initial interviews contained a strong "weVthey" distinction when design 
students referred to non-design students and vise versa. In the exit interviews this 
occurred less frequently. Many students spoke of gaining confidence through the 
course to interact with and reach out to other people. Kim commented, "My percep- 
tion of people with disabilities has gready changed. For some reason, I always 
believed that they were in pain. After spending some time with people with disabili- 
ties, I realized that yes, they do experience some pain, but that is not what their 
whole lives are about." In her exit interview, Trade commented, "Anything that I 
design will be universally accessible, not because of laws or codes, but because I 
want it that way. Universal design is part of my code of ethics now." 


Within the first few weeks of the semester, the students developed a strong sense 
of community and the ability to communicate openly. They had enrolled in the 
course intentionally: for what they had to contribute as well as for what they could 
learn. The level of enthusiasm was very high and the students' insights inspiring. 

We approached teaching this course with openness, allowing for necessary adjust- 
ments in time and specific activities based on the individual levels of ability and how 
students functioned together in teams. There was not enough time for all that was 
originally planned and some of the planned activities proved so successful that we 
allowed more time for them to fully develop. Many days students lingered for an 
hour or more after class to work on projects or to continue a discussion. 

The awareness component proved to be the most significant part of the course. 
From the beginning, the discussions, exercises, and activities stimulated the students 
to be open in their communication with each other. The videotaped entry interviews, 
originally intended as an evaluation tool, were combined with footage from the visual 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class*' 

documentation projects to produce a short video which illustrates students encounter- 
ing physical and attitudinal barriers. In the exit interviews, students were asked which 
activities were most valuable to their learning. The experiential activities, especially 
the visual documentation exercise, were cited most frequently. 

The knowledge component changed the most from the original proposal. It was 
quickly apparent that it would be redundant to teach students with disabilities about 
accessibility. We had a particularly knowledgeable group of people who were very 
familiar with their rights and with the issue of accessibility. Knowledge and aware- 
ness were reinforced through observation, interaction, and immersion in the design 
process, in addition to reading available resource materials. 

Direct contact with students with disabilities was an invaluable means for provid- 
ing design students with sensitivity and awareness of diverse human needs. Evidence 
of this enhanced sensitivity was visible in the more empathic and creative design solu- 
tions students produced in the following semester. The students with disabilities also 
gained through their association with people who were openly interested in learning 
about their special needs. They were moved by the spirit of inclusion and some even 
discovered new abilities. Overall, the course provided a meaningful educational 
experience for all participants. 

We will continue to offer this course in universal design. Since it is not feasible to 
accommodate all students in the three programs and still maintain a workable ratio of 
design to nondesign students, the course will remain an elective. In addition, a 
course in human factors is recommended so that all design majors learn about physi- 
cally diverse populations, accessibility guidelines, and universal design concepts. We 
hope that students from this course will carry their awareness and sensitivity of lifes- 
pan issues into the traditional design studio to inspire other students. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 9 1 

University ofTennessee — Knoxville,TN 

Interior Design Program 

"Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio: 
Seeing, Experiencing, and Designing" 


Interior design courses that address universal design issues usually focus on regu- 
latory compliance or the needs of a particular group, such as the elderly or wheelchair 
users (Canestaro & Houser, 1993). It is imperative that we help students develop a 
sensitivity to universal design issues, provide them with experiences to elucidate 
growing old or being disabled, and give them comprehensive lectures and studio 
exercises that address issues across the lifespan. The challenge for faculty is to ensure 
that students synthesize these experiences into the very core of their psyches rather 
than simply learn to list spatial programmatic requirements or to recite codes. 

Our project proposed to develop three intenelated instructional components — an 
introductory videotape, a game and simulation teaching manual, and computer-based 
instructional modules. The intent of these components was to sensitize interior design 
students to the physical and emotional ramifications of universal design by having 
them experience what it is like to be old or to have a disability. It was also our intent 
to go beyond, yet include, regulatory considerations. Subsequent studio problems 
would give students the opportunity to design with these issues in mind. Our final 
objective was to test what the students learned about universal design by evaluating 
studio exercises and projects. 

We drew from the campus environment and the university community' for settings 
and consultants. Our premise was that design students would identify and empathize 
with the problems encountered by students with impairments more quickly than they 
would with similar circumstances faced by a less familiar population. 

Following production, the components would be used sequentially throughout the 
interior design curriculum: 

• All students would view the videotape during the introductory interior design 

• Students would begin using selected computer-based learning modules during 
their second-year and continue using modules developed for specific project 

Team members: 

Nancy Canestaro 
Associate Professor 

Thomas Houser 
Assistant Professor 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 93 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 

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• view video tapes 


• use basic learning modules 

• play games 


• use advanced learning modules 

• design and develop games 


• produce video tapes 

• use project learning modules 


• develop computer learning modules 

Components witbin tbe 
Curriculum. The video 
was produced by seniors for 
use by first-year and trans- 
fer students. The ga mes 
were developed by juniors to 
benefit sophomores. The 
computer-based learning 
modules were begun by 
fifth-year students for appli- 
cations throughout the pro- 
gram. The pedagogical 
intent was for students to 
benefit from producing as 
well as using the three 

Synthesize components and concepts throughout the program 

permeating students' design philosophies 
as they move into the profession. 

• Third-year students would research universal design for particular settings 
and would design games to explain the issues to less advanced students. 

• Subsequent studio projects would include a universal design analysis compo- 
nent, similar to a codes check. 

As pan of UDEP, we planned to test the validity of having students produce 
these components as a teaching technique. We did not intend to test the effective- 
ness of the proposed component sequence within the undergraduate interior design 
curriculum. The amount of time a class needs to produce these materials varies 
considerably depending on other classroom activities and the desired level of profes- 
sionalism. Production video takes longer to shoot and edit than home movies and 
interactive learning modules require more time than simple HyperCard stacks. 


'Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio' 

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Planning (1-2 weeks) 

• develop story board 

• prepare interview questions 

• determine facilities 

Human Subjects (1-3 weeks) 

• obtain permissions 

• identify participants 

• schedule interviews 

Media Services (2-4 weeks) 

• request video staff support 

• schedule taping sessions 

Conduct Interviews (2-3 weeks) 

• conduct mock interview 

• facilitate arrival of participants 
» test lighting and sound 

• conduct interviews 

• have panel summary 

Rough Footage (1-2 weeks) 

• review tapes 

• edit story boards 

• edit tapes 

Final Footage (1-4 months) 

• rework and edit production to 
desired level of sophistication 


Pre-planning (1-2 weeks) 

• read game/gaming materials 

• analyze existing game(s) 

• participate in simulation games 

Planning Game (1-2 weeks) 

• identify issues to portray 

• develop game concepts 

Designing Game (1-2 weeks) 

• produce prototype 

• test game in class 

• receive input from consultants 

• determine needed revisions 

Producing Game (2-3 weeks) 

• refine concept 

• secure durable materials 

• build final product 

Testing Game (1 day) 

• play games in small groups 
including expert consultants 
and individuals with disabilities 

• evaluate each game 

• conduct debriefing at end to 
discuss experiences, feelings 
and what was learned 
throughout the process 


Duration: 10-16 weeks, or more 

Duration: 4-3 weeks 

Pre-planning (2-3 weeks) 

• decide topics 

• conduct literature search 

• review applicable regulations 

• create bibliography 

Planning (1-2 weeks) 

• develop story board 

• place each fact or issue on a 
3"x5" index card, noting 
bibliographic information and 
desired graphics 

• post cards on wall or tackboard 
by topics in outline format 

• connect interrelated concepts 
across topics with stnngs 

Entering Data (2 weeks) 

• create stack for each heading 

• enter one thought per card 

Adding Graphics (2-4 weeks) 

• paint graphics in HyperCard 

• import drawings or scans 

• aad animations or video clips 

Editing (1-3 weeks) 

• edit and organize cards 

• connect "strings" with buttons 

Development of 
Components. These 
charts indicate the proce- 
dures followed for the pro- 
duction of the videotape, 
games, and computer- 
based learning modules. 

Duration: 8-12 weeks, or more 


Depending on their academic level, students were assigned one of the following 

tasks to broaden their awareness of universal design issues: 

• Interview or videotape individuals with disabilities; 

• Develop universal design games; or 

• Synthesize data into computer-based instructional modules. 

Students who were not involved in production tasks benefited from the informa- 
tion and provided a valuable test of the components by viewing the video or playing 
the games. The computer learning modules were not tested with students at this time. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 1 95 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 

Universal Design Games. 

"Inhibition " was designed 
by Cheryl Hooper, Annette 
Redmon, and Emily Ridley 
to show bow tbe physical 
environment inhibits people 
with disabilities. 
"Universatile" was pro- 
duced byjenn Howard, Jan 
Murray, and Amy Smith to 
teach universal design 
issues across the lifespan. 

All participants applied their newly acquired knowledge by completing studio 
exercises with special emphasis on universal design. In each case, they were expect- 
ed to meet the course objectives and demonstrate profound sensitivity to life-span 
issues. At the completion of the class they presented their work to juries of adminis- 
trators, educators, and individuals with disabilities and/or design practitioners. 


Introductory Videotape. An introductory videotape was developed by seniors 
for students in lower-division studios to help them understand how university citizens 
with different types of disabilities experience the campus environment. The exercise 
was a small component in an advanced interiors studio. We chose a video compo- 
nent for several reasons: this generation of design students relates well to media pro- 
jects; tapes could be edited to create a concise experience for viewers; and excerpts 
from the tapes could be incorporated into computer-based learning modules in the 

To produce the video, students worked in teams and met with members of the 
university community*. A student who uses a wheelchair, a student with a hearing 
impairment, and a student with a sight impairment participated in the videotaping. 
The Director of Handicapped Student Services for the university contacted these con- 
sultants for their assistance in the videotaping and participated in the sessions herself. 
Each session began with an introduction of the guests, who made general observa- 
tions about the environmental challenges they face. Then the students moved 
through buildings on campus, developing "personal diaries" of their guests maneuver- 
ing through the university environment with its plethora of obstacles, both physical 
and social. At the end of each session there was a debriefing to summarize 


"Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio' 

The objective of producing the videoptape was to create material for introducing 
first-year students to universal design. The means, however, became an end. We 
discovered during the first taping session that the interior design students who 
assisted with the taping developed a new appreciation for the challenges faced by 
their peers with physical limitations. Students who had been using buildings on 
campus for four years began noticing obstacles and barriers that they had not seen 
before. A number of important lessons were learned. For example, a student who 
uses a wheelchair pointed out that he was unable to use most of a room designed 
for student organization meetings even though the room met accessibility codes. 

Games. The use of simulation techniques to evaluate behavior and space usage 
is well documented (Appleyard et al, 1982; King et al, 1982; Greenblat, 1981; Hasell. 
1980; Sanoff, 1977). Simulations vary from highly controlled experimental studies of 
behavior in architectural environments or even computer studies (Winkel &. Sasanoff. 
1976; Stahl, 1982) to quasi-experimental explorations of affective responses to certain 
conditions (Goodman and Horn, 1975; Canestaro, 1987). At the highly controlled 
end, some argue that the situation becomes so abstracted that the layers of 
reality are obliterated. This can be overcome by verifying findings with 
people who have experienced the condition under study. At the other 
end of the spectrum, it is argued that "touchy-feely" simulations do not 
produce enough usable information. This, too, can be overcome by con- 
cluding the simulation with a highly controlled debriefing that examines 
how to use new perceptions of a situation in real settings. Assessments 
and perceptions of environments are often studied indirectly through envi- 
ronments that are convenient and simulated (Bosselmann & Craik, 1990). 

We prepared a course packet for third-year students to use in the 
design and production of the games. We also intended to use it as a 
framework for studio exercises. The packet included articles and data 
related to universal design, information about games and simulations, and course 
expectations. We also prepared a gaming and simulation teaching manual for use 
by faculty. 

Teams of two or three students applied the materials from the packet to the 
design and production of games that explained or demonstrated universal design 
issues. They chose game subject material by researching the roles and characteristics 
of people with different impairments, including those portrayed in the video diaries. 
They also reviewed the pertinent codes, regulations, and guidelines to building, life 
safety, and accessibility issues. We encouraged students to design the games to sim- 
ulate the effects of the built environment on people with disabilities, as well as to 
test factual information. The resulting games were played by lower-division students 
to expose them to universal design issues, especially individuals' needs across the 

Playing the Universal 
Design Games. As a 

culminating experience in 
the game design and 
production process, the 
juniors presented and 
tested their ^ames by 
playing them with their 
cUissmates. Suphomore-leiel 
inten • cL lign students, 
unii ersity ^ui'r.mistrators. 
faculty, and ', >^ultants 
disabilities uho 
me :; ated in . 
;:.<■<. :.,.-- pr iect. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Desist I 97 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 

After playing the games, we held a debriefing to evaluate the games and to sum- 
marize observations and feelings about universal design issues. The students who 
designed the games appeared more sensitive to the problems experienced by their 
physically impaired peers than they were at the outset of the project. Course evalua- 
tions and subsequent studio design projects are further evidence of students' 
increased sensitivity since the beginning of the semester. At the end of the process, 
the consultants from the video project evaluated the games. They assessed how sen- 
sitive the games were in presenting the issues, how interesting the games were to 
play, and whether the games were successful as learning tools. These games were 
presented and exhibited at the 1994 Interior Design Educators Council Conference in 
San Antonio during the keynote session on universal design. 

Computer-based Learning Modules. The effectiveness and weakness inherent 
in computer-based learning modules are well-documented in the literature (Case, 
1990, for example). xModules designed to provide relative freedom of navigation 
through the learning sessions capitalize on research findings relevant to student satis- 
faction and effectiveness (Lanza & Roselli, 1991). 

While the video diaries spoke to the emotional and practical sides of universal 
design and accessibility issues, the computer-based learning modules addressed regu- 
latory concerns. This approach — melding subjective feelings expressed in the video 
diaries with objective requirements of guidelines and laws — appeared to help students 
understand the positive human concerns behind regulatory guidelines. For example, 
when students saw a person using a wheelchair struggle with a heavy door, they 
understood the necessity of specifying a maximum opening pressure for doors. 

Modules for basic instruction of universal design issues and regulatory concerns 
were produced during the 1993-94 academic year by fifth-year students in a design 
synthesis course. Twelve HyperCard stacks containing over 400 cards were devel- 
oped to report findings from intensive literature searches on the topics listed below. 
These stacks will be available for use in future design studios to introduce universal 
design issues or to supplement course readings. The subject areas of the twelve 
stacks were: 

• Introduction to and benefits from an approach to universal design 

• Disability statistics 

• General information about and categories of disabilities 

• Disadvantages experienced by those with disabilities 


'Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio' 

Designed for able bodies. 



Designed for able bodies. 

Includes needs of: 
• children . . . 

Designed for able bodies. 

c T?S?77s5r 

Includes needs of . . . 

Designed for able bodies. 



Includes needs of: 

• cnildren. 

• people with disabilities 

Excerpts from 
Learning Modules, 

Concepts have been ani- 
mated through a series of 
cards in HyperCard or 
slides in PowerPoint. Both 
text and graphics evoke 
through a series of images 
to convey one concept. 
Users can use the arrows in 
the right hand corner to 
move forward or back- 
wards in the stack. 
Pressing the globe icon 
allows the user to go to a 
master (home) card that 
serves as a directory for all 
of the stacks. 

Designed for able bodies. 


Includes needs of. 

• children. 

• people with disabilities 

• the elderly, and ... fj 

Designed for able bodies 

Includes needs of: 

• children. 

• people Aiih disabilities 

• the elderly and 

• non-typical users. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 199 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 

• Information on aging 

• Information on dementia and Alzheimer's disease 

• Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act 

• General definitions concerning barriers and barrier-free design 

• Accessibility guidelines 

• ADA requirements and guidelines relative to new construction and 
existing buildings 

• Environmental effects on physical and emotional well-being 

• Wayfinding and coding of the environment 

Three basic software packages were used: HyperCard (Claris. 1990-1992) for the 
development of informational databases and tutorials; PowerPoint (Microsoft, 1992) 
for the production of slides, and Director (MacroMind, 1992) for editing the videos. 
HyperCard was selected because it is widely disseminated throughout academia. 
PowerPoint was used for the ease of slide development and editing and the transfer- 
ability of data between programs. Director was chosen for the ability to create stand- 
alone applications so that faculty at other programs would not need the original soft- 
ware to access the materials. 

There are several advantages to storing information in HyperCard. The program 
can work somewhat like a database. Information is stored on cards, much like com- 
puterized index cards, and the cards are then stored in stacks, much like file folders. 
Users simply move through the stacks as they would thumb through files. Editing is 
relatively easy and additional learning modules can be developed for specific project 
types by simply rearranging cards from the appropriate stacks. New material can be 
inserted at any point without having to rework the existing stacks. As new project 
challenges are faced by students, appropriate building, life safety, and accessibility 
codes can be presented through customized computer-based modules. 

Students learn to manipulate HyperCard quickly. By using options in the pull- 
down "Go" menu they can return to the home card (directory) to open another stack 
of cards, giving them another topic. Through the same menu they can go forward or 


"Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio' 

backward in the stack. They also can see a record of all the cards they have viewed. 
The "Find" command lets students search for key words and the program moves to 
the appropriate card or cards automatically. Similar command options for moving 
through documents to retrieve information are available on PowerPoint and Director. 

Studio Projects. We evaluated the success of these universal design teaching 
techniques by analyzing the visual evidence in studio design solutions from upper 
division courses. During the fall semester, students in a third-year interior design stu- 
dio evaluated and partially redesigned an assisted living facility that was under con- 
struction. They drew on their experiences from producing the universal design 
games, from interviews and observations made at the facility, and from the views 
expressed by consultants on the videotape. In the spring semester, this same studio 
of students designed weekend retreats for individual clients with specific physical dis- 
abilities. The fourth-year interior design students designed large-scale conference cen- 
ters, based in part on previous knowledge of universal design issues and on their 
experiences from producing the video. They evaluated their proposed spaces in light 
of universal design issues and concerns with techniques such as proxemic zone 

Students presented their work to university citizens who have impairments, profes- 
sional designers, administrators, and faculty. Paul Grayson, our UDEP advisor, cri- 
tiqued the juniors' studio design projects during his visit in the spring term. The 
review process confirmed that the students had learned a great deal about universal 
design. It also underscored the need for vigilance in their quest to meet predictable 
needs of as many users as possible. 

Weekend Retreat Project, 
Gesture and Plan. Paula 
Will designed a refuge for a 
4 '-6" tall person with inter- 
ests in gourmet cooking, vir- 
tual reality and pet snakes. 
She made a one-line gesture 
drawing that reflected the 
client's interests and person- 
ality, and then adapted it to 
become the base circulation 
pattern within the retreat. 
The project represented a 
melding of aesthetic, func- 
tional, lifespan, and produc- 
tion issues in a course focus- 
ing on construction contract 

Through each of these components — the introductory videotape, games, comput- 

er-based learning modules, and studio projects 

-students gained an early understand- 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 20 1 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 

Executive Conference 
Center Project. 

Registration, lobby, and 
lobby lounge. Virginia 
Montgomery designed a 
200,000 square foot confer- 
ence center in a fourth-year 
studio. This plan detail 
reflects the attention paid to 
the needs of people who use 







Executive Conference 
Center Project, Proxentic 
Zones Study. Virginia 
Montgomery created a prox- 
emic zone layer in her com- 
puter-based drawings to 
evaluate the ease with 
which wheelchair users 
could both access a space 
and interact with other 
users. The circles on this 
drawing represent the gen- 
erally recognized bound- 
aries of personal social, 
and public interpersonal 


"Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio' 

ing of some of the problems faced by people who have different abilities. 
They learned about some of the barriers and problems that many of their 
peers face everyday through producing and playing the games or taping 
and viewing the video. They also learned required building, life safety, fire, 
and accessibility standards, codes, and regulations. 


The emotions and frustrations experienced by students with disabilities, 
as portrayed in the video diaries, clearly affected the interior design stu- 
dents. Having consultants of the same age and experience as the design 
students underscored the relevance of universal design throughout the lifespan. 
Addressing design issues for people their own age charged the term "universal design" 
with new meaning: they are not just designing for the elderly, but for their peers, and 
for themselves someday. 

Dialogue between consultants on the videotape captured the issue that meeting 
regulatory requirements often is not enough — accessible space is not always usable. 
While attempting to use spaces that meet applicable codes, a student using a wheel- 
chair pointed out the functional deficits: "O.K., I can get to this [conference! table, but 
what if I don't want to sit here, but there?. . . I can reach these [library] shelves, but I 
have friends who couldn't. ... There's nowhere on campus where two or more of 
us — and we do tend to travel in packs — can eat together without causing distur- 
bances." A student with a hearing disability surprised the interior design students by 
pointing out how the activities of others affect him: "You might not notice the sound 
from a door hinge when you come to class late, but my hearing aid picks it up like 
squeaky chalk. It [conveys] all sounds, and doesn't know what to filter out." 

Paul Grayson, UDEP 
Advisor, Critiques 
Weekend Retreat 
Projects. Toe posted pro- 
jects represent work 
through the design develop- 
ment phase. Students sub- 
sequently completed work- 
ing drawings that allowed 
for spatial adaptations to 
accommodate changes 
throughout their clients' 

A predictable result of the universal design games was that students had to leam 
detailed facets of universal design to formulate their games. Students playing each 
other's games were motivated to leam additional information to perform well before 
their peers. This desire to do well in each other's games reinforced learning and 
helped integrate information into the students' approaches to problem seeking and 
problem solving — results we seek as educators when we give exams. 

Fifth-year students preparing the computer-based instructional modules noted that 
they had been exposed to the same materials in previous courses but had experi- 
enced difficulty remembering the data. These students stated that HyperCard stacks 
could be tremendous aids for organizing and synthesizing information across courses. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 203 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 


We documented the process from the beginning, including writing objectives for 
each of the three components and methods of evaluation. In addition to the evalua- 
tive questionnaires developed by the sponsors of the UDEP, we evaluated the effec- 
tiveness of the videotape, computer modules, and simulation by having students who 
experienced the process assess how much they learned. The consultants evaluated 
the universal design games for the amount of learning they thought the games 

A marker for the successful completion of this process was inherently elusive, as 
our ultimate goal was to influence how students think, feel, and proceed while 
designing interiors. If the strategies implemented through this project were successful, 
the students would demonstrate heightened sensitivities to universal design issues. 
Presumably, their evolving personal design philosophies would include these issues 
and be visible in their approaches to designing interiors. Although the degree to 
which awareness of universal design and lifespan issues was increased by this project 
is difficult to assess, both faculty members have observed that students are incorporat- 
ing universal design concepts into their projects without the resistance they usually 
express towards code issues. 

Perhaps the best evidence of success comes from impromptu comments made by 
students during studio sessions: 


My client is getting older. Maybe I need to change this since she may use a wheel- 
chair later. 

But what if a taller person buys this house? I should put in supports so wall cabi- 
nets can be added. These [base] cabinets can be raised. These [others] could be left 
lower for a mixing center. 

This recessed area fits the site better. A ramp can be worked in over here. . . . How 
will I know that another owner or contractor will know the extra floor joists are 

I've stacked these [walk-in] closets so an elevator could be added. I guess a fire pole 
is out of the question? 

I ramped it just in case. . . . 


'Synthesizing Lifespan Issues W'rthin the Studio' 

Other groups and individuals could benefit from this instructional development 
project. University administrators could benefit from viewing the video and going 
through the learning modules to sensitize them to the human dimensions of the regu- 
latory issues raised by ADA. Faculty in interior design could benefit from viewing the 
video, experiencing the games, reviewing the computer-based learning modules, and 
participating on design juries. Faculty outside the discipline of interior design could 
benefit as well. Administrators of our College have discussed how offshoots from the 
computer-based learning modules could be used in the retail, hotel- restaurant 
administration, and day care classes to present an overview of universal design issues 
to majors in other fields. Students with impairments at the university expressed 
appreciation at having the opportunity to speak out to young designers as well as to 
university decisionmakers on the problems they encounter as they try to achieve their 
potential in this academic community. 

Our participation in this process will continue well beyond the completion of this 
project. If nothing else, this project has reinforced our commitment to universal 
design as a mandate for our personal teaching and designing. We plan to continue 
using all the strategies developed here. All three strategies garner self-perpetuating 
products. Student output produces materials that can be used to edit earlier products. 
Work from each year reinforces the past and helps build a stronger base for the 

Participation by the following individuals was essential to the success of this project 
and is gratefully acknowledged: Consultants Ricky Smith, Kathy Spruiell, and 
Bryan Vogt; Director of Handicapped Student Services, LTK, Dr. fan Howard; 
Director of the Center for Telecommunications and Video, UTK, William R. Terry; 
video technician, fames Bell; Randall Cooper and Marsh Frere, ofByrd & Cooper 
Architects. Knoxville; Damon Falconnier, of Accessible Design Architects. Knoxville; 
Architect Leroy Gerard of Knoxville; John Overly, Architect-in-Charge of Barrier-free 
and ADA Compliance, Martin Marietta, Oak Ridge, 77V; and Administrator, 
William Thomas, Social Worker fane Finn, and Director of Nursing Barbara 
Cooper of Shannondale Health Care Center, Knoxville. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 205 

Chapter 23: University of Tennessee 


Anders, D., & Fechtner, D. (1992). Universal Design. In A Report on the Industrial 
Design Curriculum Development Program. New York: Pratt Institute. 

Bosselmann, P., & Craik, K.H. (1990). Perceptual simulations of environments. In R.B. 
Bechtel, R.W. Marans, & W. Michelson (Eds.), Methods in environmental and 
behavior research (pp. 162-190). Malabar, FL: Robert E. Kreiger Publishing Co. 

Canestaro, N.C. (1987). Open office programming: Assessment of 'the work station 
game' as a planning tool. Unpublished dissertation from The University of 
Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 

Canestaro, N.C. (Ed.) (1993-1994). Innovative teaching ideas. Interior Design 
Educators Council. 

Canestaro, N.C, & Houser, T.L. [Analysis of project descriptions and requirements in 
Canestaro (Ed.) Innovative teaching ideas] Unpublished raw data. 

Case, D. (1990). Using HyperText to create design programming databases. Journal of 
Interior Design Education and Research, 19(1), 37-52. 

Claris Corp. (1990-92). HyperCard® (Version 2.1) [Computer programl. Santa Clara, 
CA: Apple Computer, Inc. 

Goodman, F.L., & Horn, A.T. (1975). The end of the line: A simulation game. Ann 
Arbor, MI: The Institute of Gerontology, The University of Ml/Wayne State 

Greenblat, C.S. (1981). Gaming-simulation as a tool for social research. In C.S. 
Greenblat & R.D. Duke (Eds.), Principles and practices of gaming-simulation 
(pp. 189-201). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. 

Hassell, MJ. (1980). Urban gaming simulations and evaluation. In R. Horn & A. 
Cleaves (Eds.), The guide to simulations/games for education and training (4th 
ed.) (pp. 28<>303). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. 



'Synthesizing Lifespan Issues Within the Studio 1 

King, J., Marans, R.W., & Solomon, LA. (1982). Pre-construction evaluation: A report 
on the full scale mock-up and evaluation of hospital rooms. Ann Arbor, MI: 
Architectural Research Laboratory, University of MI. 

Lanza, A., & Roselli, T. (1991). Effects of the hypenextual approach versus the struc- 
tured approach on students' achievement, fournal of Computer-based Instruction, 
18(2), 48-50. 

MacroMind, Inc. (1992). Director (Version 3- 1-1) [Computer program]. San Francisco: 
MacroMedia, Inc. 

Microsoft Corp. (1992). PowerPoint (Version 3-0) [Computer program]. Redmond, WA: 
Microsoft Corp. 

Sanoff, H. (1977). Methods of architectural programming. Stroudsbourg, PA: Dowden, 
Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 

Stahl, F. (1982). Computer simulation modeling for informed decision-making. In R 
Bart, A. Chen, & G. Francescato (Eds.), EDRA 13: Knowledge for Design (pp. 105- 
111). College Park, MD: Environmental Design Research Association. 

Winkel. G., & SasanofT, R. (1976). An approach to an objective analysis of behavior in 
architectural space. In H.xM. Proshansky, W.H. Ittelson, & L.G. Rivlin (Eds.), 
Environmental psychology: People and their physical settings (2nd ed.) (pp.35 1- 
362),. New York: Holt, Reinhold & Winston. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 207 

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University- 
J Blacksburg,VA 

Interior Design Program 

"Across the Lifespan and the Curriculum 



Meeting the needs of people has always been the cornerstone of the programs in 
Housing, Interior Design, and Resource Management (HIDM) at Virginia Tech. 
External support for universal design education has helped faculty highlight the value 
of designing for people of all ages and abilities in their teaching. 

Team members: 

Julia Beamish 

Associate Professor 
Anna Marshall-Baker 

Assistant Professor 
Eric Wiedegreen 

Assstant Professor 

The Interior Design Program at Virginia Tech is within the HIDM Department in 
the College of Human Resources. The Interior Design Program is FTDER accredited 
and graduates approximately thirty-five students per year. For many years, students in 
Interior Design and Residential Property Management have been required, in their last 
year, to take Barrier Free Design, a two credit lecture course. The course concentrates 
on code requirements for accessibility. It also requires students to interview people 
with special needs, to assess buildings, and to consult with clients on unusable spaces. 

Our proposal was to educate the faculty in the department through an orientation 
session and design process. Projects would be introduced in courses throughout the 
four-year degree program so that universal design would be an integral component of 
students' interior design work. In spite of receiving less funding, faculty who partici- 
pated in submitting the proposal agreed to implement universal design in their classes 
during the fall and spring semesters. 


As faculty discussed how to integrate universal design, we identified where related 
topics are already being presented in a variety of courses across program areas. 
Universal design is discussed as a component of the course on residential space plan- 
ning and housing. Code requirements are identified in the design drawing class and 
applied in the senior contract design course and in health care design. Residential 
equipment and management courses highlight user-equipment interaction and discuss 
effective task completion, particularly among users with special needs. 

More importantly, we realized that many of the faculty were familiar with the con- 
cept of universal design and had been proponents of its value for some time. The 
focus of the project became the task of educating students about universal design and 
lifespan issues. 

Strategies for Teachr ■ il Design 209 

Chapter 24: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

For freshmen and sophomores, Anna Marshall-Baker and Eric Wiedegreen incor- 
porated universal design into the sequence of Design Appreciation, Two Dimensional 
Design, Three Dimensional Design, and Presentation Techniques courses. Also at 
the sophomore level, Julia Beamish added universal design criteria to several projects 
in the House Planning course so that students would understand how user need crite- 
ria affect space requirements. 

Barrier Free Design, taught by Julia Beamish, continued to be the primary course 
for presenting universal design issues, supplementing the information presented on 
barrier-free design. The course addressed codes, legal requirements, and special 
design considerations for people with disabilities and for aging populations. Students 
participated in experiential exercises, discussed housing issues with students who use 
wheelchairs, conducted commercial and residential accessibility surveys, and worked 
in groups to design a residence for a woman who had lost an arm in an accident. 
Information on design and management concerns was presented to both interior 
design and property management students. 

During the fall semester, the graduate seminar presented other opportunities to 
discuss universal design. Julia Beamish presented the universal design concept to stu- 
dents and asked them to keep a journal of their thoughts and observations on the 
topic. Students participated in focus groups to reflect on universal design in the 
department and wrote a brief summary of their reactions. 

The department celebrated universal design with a visit by Dorothy Fowles, 
UDEP advisor. Her presentation drew over one hundred students and faculty to a 
lecture and slide show on universal design and its application to interior design. She 
met with HIDM faculty and graduate students to discuss universal design education 
efforts and further changes in the curriculum to continue incorporating this concept 
into the programs. 


2D and 3D Design Courses. We approached these courses with the belief that 
we could affect students' thinking about universal design most effectively at the intro- 
ductory level. Total revision of courses was impractical so we emphasized universal 
design issues on a project-by-project basis within the first year 2D Design and the sec- 
ond year 3D Design classes. Our primary effort was to sensitize students to a broad 
spectrum of lifespan topics, including visual impairment, immobility, size differences, 
and age-related issues. 


'Across the Lifespan and the Curriculum' 


To heighten awareness of texture, students in 2D Design were asked to create a 
collage of materials using only texture as a guide. The students were blindfolded 
while they chose materials and created the arrangement. In the subsequent exercises 
students graphically reproduced the actual texture arrangement in point and line and 
only as value, exploring the relationship between what is seen and what is felt. 

In the 3D Design class texture was introduced as the major design element in a 
project that required one geometric solid to metamorphose into another solid. The 
students judged their models while blindfolded. A blind sculptor who was invited as 
a juror described the heightened sensitivity of her other senses. Students discovered 
both the sensory and informational components of texture. 

Students in the 2D Design class created measurement tapes for individuals of dif- 
ferent ages and body types (children, basketball players, older people) as an exercise 
in recognizing that people who are not disabled have diverse needs because of their 
body size. Representative samples of the tapes were used by the 3D Design class in 
their final project, creating an architectural space within a twenty foot cubic space, 
customized to the needs of the individuals documented on the tapes. The models 
and drawings reflected the different needs of individuals for qualities such as sight 
lines, reaching, and sitting heights. 

As a follow-up to the measurement tape project, students in the sophomore level 
Presentation Techniques class were asked to tailor a space to the specific needs of 
two very different individuals, while maintaining a sense of spatial unity and parity of 
ownership for the clients. A continuation of the problem asked students to select 
appropriate furnishings and materials and to render several views of the space. 

In a color project for the 2D Design class, students were introduced to age-related 
visual problems by looking at their multiple colored schemes with empathic devices. 

Left and Middle: Texture 
project in the 2D Design 

Right: Students evaluating 
the texture project in the 
3D Design class 

Strategies j\r Tea .il Design 211 

Chapter 24: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

Students used the wheel- 
chair as inspiration for a 
design problem. 

Model of a space for two 
people of different sizes. 

Model of a residence that 
accommodates visitors who 
use wheelchairs. 

Using strips of yellow cellophane as visual filters that approximate the 
heightened yellow-orange and diminished blue-green perception of 
advanced age, students evaluated their schemes for their appropriateness to 
aging eyesight. 

House Planning Course. The concept of universal design has always 
been the basis of the House Planning course. User needs and functional- 
ism are important in understanding how houses should work for people. 
This year the focus was more on the uniqueness of individuals. 

Some basic spatial criteria based on the needs and measurements of the 
"typical" healthy, adult male (or female) were presented and students were 
encouraged to see that these standards would not work for everyone. 
Students measured themselves and children of different ages to see the spa- 
tial requirements of different people. These measurements became refer- 
ence points for subsequent assignments involving children. Students also 
worked on retirement housing and residential designs that would accom- 
modate visitors in wheelchairs. 

Design assignments in the House Planning course have a limit on 
square footage. Usually it is generous, but it does require students to make 
choices about space allocation. Adding a "universal design" requirement 
affected the students' designs. Their projects had many fewer floor level 
changes than in previous years. Students sought to define open spaces 
with flooring changes, ceiling height changes, half walls, and other architec- 
tural features. They also allowed more space in baths, halls, and at door- 
ways. The requirements frustrated them as they tried to work out the 
design of other spaces that had, as a consequence, become less spacious. 
Teaching this course with a consultant would be very helpful to the stu- 
dents as they struggle with the trade-offs. 

Barrier Free Design Course Barrier Free Design is a two credit 

senior-level course for both Interior Design and Residential Property 
Management students. The scope and complexity of design assignments 
were limited by the lecture format and the mix of students, many of whom 
have no design background. Juniors and seniors have fragmentary knowl- 
edge of barrier-free design through other classes but have not had systemat- 
ic exposure to universal design. This course gives students with different 
majors an opportunity to interact and work on team assignments and pre- 
sentations. Students in their junior year were very positive about the applic- 
ability of universal design information to their internship. 


'Across the Lifespan and the Curriculum' 

The Residential Property- Management students were particularly interested in the 
laws about barrier-free design and how to comply. Before assessing apartment com- 
plexes with a UFAS checklist they met with students in wheelchairs to hear about 
apartment design problems. One of the reviewers of students' work commented on 
their focus on wheelchair accessibility and their lack of attention to people with visu- 
al impairments, a large segment of the disabled student population. The reason for 
this may be attributable to the focus of the check sheet, their experience with students 
in wheelchairs, or a lingering impression that disability means "wheelchair." In the 
future, inviting a wider range of consultants will encourage the students to assess 
apartments from a broader perspective. 

Although the design students were concerned with legal issues, aesthetic solutions 
were clearly important to them. Examples of appealing, suitable, and well-designed 
products and up-to-date product information need to be available in the 
resource room. The design students worked in teams to design a residence 
for a real client — a woman who had lost one arm. Besides many typical 
residential design concerns, the students had to think about space require- 
ments and products that met her needs. They researched products and met 
with her to discuss options. The client was most impressed with their effort 
and attention to detail. Ken Smith, a representative from the National 
Kitchen and Bath Association, critiqued the student work and commented 
on the detail and attention given to the client's needs. This project effec- 
tively challenged students to think about individual needs at the same time 
they were planning spaces that are universal. 

MB 1 1 ii hi 

Graduate Seminar. The graduate seminar gave students a chance to 
participate in the department's thinking about universal design. A number 
of graduate students are interested in research topics related to the concept. Most 
graduate students seemed somewhat familiar with the concept: the interior des: 
majors were especially familiar with accessibility requirements. Most were abie :o tie 
the concept of universal design into their respective disciplines and engage in insight 
ful observations and discussion. 

• a client with 
jr.e arm 


Students completed written evaluations after their panicipation in the freshman 
and sophomore sequences. Prior to their coursework. most had limited under-:.; rid- 
ing of the concept of universal design and of the full meaning of the term "dis 
In the evaluative questionnaire, the two projects that students identified as most help- 
ful in developing an understanding of universal design were designing the arc! 
al space for two disparate clients (43%) and using the wheelchairs (55° o). Responses 

Strategies for Teacbii 213 

Chapter 24: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

from the remaining 22% indicated that there was value in all of the projects in 3D 
Design, in designing public spaces in Presentation Techniques, and in using the yel- 
low filters in 2D Design. More than half the students (52%) commented on their new 
awareness of accessibility in their day-to-day environments. 

In Barrier-Free Design students wrote reaction papers to various activities and 
interviews in which they participated. They found that experiencing the environment 
in a wheelchair or blindfolded helped them look at their environment more critically. 
Meeting students who use wheelchairs was very successful in illuminating the prob- 
lems they experience in getting around campus and in their daily living activities. 

Meeting with the two handicapped students was very informative. . . it was benefi- 
cial to see the actual housing practices of the community and to hear the stories of 
those students that it effects. The most important point made, I think, was that each 
unit has to be individualized for the person using it. This was good information 
because it educated us not to typecast the disabled' into one category with certain 
needs and specifications for comfortable living. 


Participation in UDEP has been an interesting and rewarding experience for the 
faculty. It has been a topic that has allowed us to work across our traditional subject 
lines. It has given us the opportunity to explore what we teach and to think about 
how it could be done differently. We have not completed the process of course and 
curriculum revisions, but we tried out new ideas with this purpose in mind. 

One important change we made is introducing universal design and lifespan 
issues at the very beginning of students' coursework in interior design. We feel 
strongly that lifespan issues can be integrated into any basic design program or 
course of study. All of the techniques we used in this project were interjected into 
existing class assignments and problems. It took very little time to introduce the new 
subject matter and the major emphasis of the course remained focused on basic 
design instruction. We exposed students to a wide range of issues and sensitized 
them to the needs of people different from themselves, experiences which we hope 
they will cany into their design careers. 

Our concept of presenting universal design to students gradually in a series of 
projects throughout the curriculum requires some rethinking about our program and 
the way in which other subject matter is taught. Many courses are segmented, topical 


"Across the Lifespan and the Curriculum 1 

courses. Integrating one topic throughout all courses may lead to other topics that 
need to be integrated. Some faculty argue for keeping courses separate so that they 
are identifiable by students and employers. A course on barrier-free design has been 
a fairly unique offering for design and property management students and gives them 
a distinct advantage with employers. 

Our department head has been very supportive of UDEP. She publicized the pro- 
ject with a department newsletter article and by including information in a college 
report. Department faculty outside the interior design area have been very supportive 
of the concept of universal design. It was especially rewarding during a focus group 
session with faculty (only one from interior design) to witness their familiarity and 
understanding of the concept and to realize that these issues are being presented in 
other classes. 

Other offshoots of the project include: three independent study students, two 
papers being written by graduate students on universal design for submission to con- 
ferences and journals, and papers and presentations by Anna Marshall-Baker and Eric 
Wiedegreen for conferences and journal submissions related to their concepts of uni- 
versal design and lifespan issues in the curriculum. 

Overall, the students and faculty have benefited immensely from our program's 
participation in this project. It has opened our eyes to the many variations in people's 
needs and encouraged us to grow as we struggle to create designs that will meet spe- 
cialized needs as well as the needs of all. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 2 1 5 

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — 

Department of Landscape Architecture 

"Teaching Universal Design with Multimedia Tutorials" 


There is no completely naturalistic way of resolving the question about what model 
of learner we want to enshrine at the center of our practice of education. For there 
are many ways to learn and many ways of encouraging different forms of learn- 
ing with different ends in view. At the heart of the decision process there must be a 
value judgment about how the mind should be cultivated and to what end . 
(Jerome Bruner, 1985) 

Team members: 

Dean R.Bork 

Associate Professor 
Rick Parrish 

Graduate Student 
Dan Mahon 

Graduate Student 

I believe in an educational environment where a plurality of values are expressed. 
I also believe that students of design are obligated to examine the values that under- 
pin their professional conduct and work. This does not mean all value sets are 
equally valid, only that each deserves to be heard and critically examined. 
(DeanBork, 1994) 

The term universal design is credited to architect Ron Mace. According to Mace, 
universal design is a term used to label good design for all people. Mace says univer- 
sal design requires an awareness of the abilities of people we design for and the 
incorporation of that knowledge into "design that is responsive" {Toward Universal 
Design, 1993). 

UDEP is about promoting equity in design for people with disabilities. The pro- 
ject has an inherent supposition that designers have an ethical obligation to serve the 
needs of all who may use the products or environments that they create. 

The design disciplines have enjoyed long-standing debate about their responsibili- 
ties to clients and users. If design educators choose to accept the supposition inher- 
ent in UDEP. then they may benefit from at least retaining a questioning attitude. 
While architect Mace's references to "good design" and "the range of abilities of users" 
sound noble, they will not provide the practitioner or student of design much of a 

In public places, diversity among users and the specificity of individual needs will 
tend toward conflicting expectations. An example is the USDA Forest Service's "levels 
of access." Some recreationists see rating the level of challenge in recreation settings 
(in a manner similar to what is customary on ski slopes) as substantially expanding 
opportunities for people with disabilities. Others feel that creating various levels of 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 2 1 7 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

challenge is a means of skirting hard won disability rights legislation. It stands to rea- 
son that jocks, adventurers, couch potatoes, and convalescents will interpret recreation 
environments differently. Given the greatly varied and frequently conflicting needs of 
individuals, to whom should the designer of public places respond? 

The ethical premises of universal design have, to our knowledge, received little 
study. Similarly, a substantial theory of practice has not been proposed. This leaves 
the design educator in the position of representing to students a nascent body of 
information that is largely political in its formulation and intent. Does a person with a 
disability have a greater inherent right to that nearest parking space than a person 
accompanied by a toddler and two infants? From practical and ethical standpoints 
we may see some room for debate, especially given certain circumstances. The law, 
however, leaves no question. There is sufficient political consensus to have rendered 
a definitive answer. To what extent is it our role and responsibility as design educa- 
tors to impress the disability rights agenda upon our students? 

Our project team treats the notion of socially equitable public environments as a 
self evident truth flowing from the Bill of Rights and its ideological foundations. 
However, the interpretation of these rights into the built environment is far from a cut- 
and-dry issue. It is probable that we can design to serve the needs of a broader seg- 
ment of the population and it is appropriate that our students undertake this challenge 
with us. For this reason, we have chosen to address students' values regarding peo- 
ple different from themselves, add to their conceptual knowledge in this area, and see 
that their work remains true to the position they espouse. 

Give Dilnot observed that design, in general, has nominal value in our culture 
because it seldom finds its way into public discourse (Dilnot. 1982). In ordinary social 
settings, it is common to hear casual conversation turn towards doctors, lawyers, and 
accountants, but rarely does it touch on architects, landscape architects, or planners. 
If what Dilnot observes is true, we may construct a parallel explanation for universal 
design receiving so little emphasis in the work of designers. Simply put, the subject 
of universal design is not a part of ordinary discourse within the community of 
designers and therefore is not integrated into the common value set. Through UDEP 
we propose to alter this condition within the Department of Landscape Architecture at 
Virginia Tech. 

In discovery-based design education, moments of need occur as students conduct 
a form of dialogue with the various issues that come to bear in their decision making 
(Schon. 1983; Schon et al.. 1992). Our project attempts to influence students* attention 
toward and response to universal design concerns by making instruction and informa- 
tion available precisely at the teachable moment. The project involves the develop- 
ment and testing of a collection of multimedia tutorials as a means of providing 
instruction and information to students on demand. 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

There are three levels of context that influence the development and evaluation of 
this project: 1) the educational forces in the university, 2) the general pedagogy of 
the department, and 3) the body of work previously undertaken by members of the 
project team. 

Enrollment in Virginia's public universities is expected to increase by sixty thou- 
sand students over the next decade. Financial forecasters suggest that no additional 
general fund resources will become available to support the education of these stu- 
dents. One of the key strategies being promoted to meet this challenge is an 
increased reliance on educational technologies. Through this project, one such tech- 
nology (multimedia) is examined as a tool for incorporating contemporary social and 
ethical issues into the design curriculum. 

The general pedagogy of the Department of Landscape Architecture tends to lend 
credence to a computer-assisted and self-paced learning approach. A key goal of the 
landscape architecture faculty is to engender in students a designerly habit of mind 
and a sense of responsibility toward the development of a professional position 
grounded in philosophy, theory, and concept. Within the department, education is 
viewed as something students pursue, not as something they receive. This 
requires that students reside in an environment that is generative and rich in 
resources. Following the structuralist tradition, students at any academic 
level are viewed as capable of addressing any topic of inquiry- (Bruner. 
19~). This underscores the need to have resources available to students 
on a self-paced and user-controlled basis (Dewey. 1963. McNally. 1977). 

For the past several years, members of the project team and students 
from the department have been involved with the USD A Forest Service in 
assessing, designing, and constructing accessible recreation facilities. Many 
students gained exposure to universal design through these and related 
activities before the UDEP project began. Because of the resources avail- 
able to the project team, accessible recreation became a topical area of 
focus for the prototype tutorials. Since students had multiple avenues for 
investigating the design-related needs of people with disabilities, it was not 
necessary to design the tutorials as a sole source of information on the sub> 
ject. In this context, however, it was difficult to evaluate the influence of 
the prototype in isolation from related activities. 



■ Defiaitiaas 
;■— Comparuaa of 






Prototype Menu Structure 

Branching structure of the 
tutorial modules. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 219 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

Menus offer freedom of 
navigation between tutori- 
als and the database. 
Choices are presented in 
text and graphic form. 

Control Panel 



yffirtmmiT'i nTmrnf^ 


of Universal Design 




3nd Universal Ded§» 



Exit fcfoduie 


The tutorials produced for the prototype focused on awareness of universal 
design theory and principles. The tutorials are arranged under a nested menu system. 
There are four selections on the main menu. Under three of these are second level 
menus. Ten selections are available in total. 

The tutorials are interactive, allowing the user to control the flow of information. 
Various user interfaces and graphic conventions are employed across the tutorials for 
the purpose of exploration. Tne ability" to jump between tutorials is always available 
to the user. In some cases, the interface allows the user to jump out of a tutorial and 
later resume at the same position. In other cases, only a choice between tutorials is 
available. In all cases, the user navigates through the program by the use of menu 
buttons. However, some of the tutorials require slightly different forms of interaction 
such as dragging and dropping objects. 

An important aspect of computer-based instruction is user feedback. In the tutori- 
als, any user mav gain access to any module at any time. Although user responses 
are not scored, the tutorials provide audio and text feedback whenever the user 
makes a decision. 

The tutorials are structured to work with a connecting database searchable by 
subject keywords. From any tutorial, the user may '"jump out" to the database to 
search for related information and then return. To facilitate connections between 
information, the team tested document linking via '"hot words'" in the text. Clicking 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

Click the file of your choice 





on a highlighted word immediately takes the user on a search for more information 
related to that topic or term. The database was not in place for evaluation of this pro- 
totype but should be available to students during the coming academic year. 


The modules were basically developed between July 1 and August 15. There are 
some major hunks still missing, but we have a useful prototype, which is what we 
promised. The biggest problem in getting the system running was coordinating 
hardware. The sound board didn 't like. the brand x chip set. the hard disk was full, 
arid the machine needed memory management software. Altogether, we wasted 
three or four weeks getting that stuff going. The sign has been posted in the comput- 
er room with instructions for using the system for at least three weeks, maybe four. 
(Journal. 10/28/93- Principal Investigator j 

During a program meeting at the beginning of the semester, students were told 
that the system would be available in the computing lab. The actual installation, 
which was to take place in August, was delayed. As the journal excerpt indicates, 
numerous hours were invested early in the Fall term preparing a computer to deliver 
the tutorials. The problems were resolved around October 1 and a sign was posted 
in the lab providing instructions for students interested in exploring the tutorials. The 
system was checked periodically to see that it was functioning properly. Only mini- 
mal maintenance was required and the amount of "down time" was negligible. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 221 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

Each tutorial module begins 
with an overveiw of 

I have lined up one studio to experiment uith universal design requirements and 
one technical course. I also plan to use one assignment early in the next semester 
studio as another test. This should give us some basis for evaluating the system. In 
fact, most of the students know we are working on the project, they know Dan. 
Rick arid I are working with the Forest Service. The}/ know Dan has been offered a 
job because of his work with universal design and accessibiliti' inventories. 
Already, two other graduate students have picked up universal design as the area 
of study for their theses. In studios. I hear many more references to accessibility 
questions in general, though I am not convinced that the idea of universal design 
has soaked in. Even the faculty are more aware of the issues involved in universal 
design than they have been in the past. I think Camp Build-a-Bunch did a lot to 
raise the level of awareness and to create talk among the students. 

In other words. I don t know how we will isolate the effects of the multimedia work 
per se. but it is clear that universal design is a hot topic and students and faculty in 
a small program like ours pick up on these things fast, just the fact that Dan. Rick, 
arid I have several active projects arid several more pending creates a certain level 
of 'interest and awareness . 'journal. 10 28 93- Principal Investigator) 

Two assignments given durinq the 
address questions of universal design in their work. Or.e assignment was given in a 

Fail semester explicitly required students to 

in thei 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

graduate level Urban Design Studio. While much of the studio focused on urban 
design issues at the district or larger scale, a component of the studio involved design 
of a public open space, for which students were asked to address issues of design for 
a diverse user population. 

Multiple choice questions 
help users understand the 
definition of universal 
design. Feedback occurs in 
the form of text and digital 

Simultaneously, in a technical course called Materials and Details, both undergrad- 
uate and graduate students created and evaluated details incorporating a universal 
design perspective. Some graduate students were enrolled in both the studio and this 
technical course, affording them the opportunity- to coordinate work between the two 
courses. These students had the opportunity to develop a design scheme in studio 
while developing related details in the technical course. 

In the Accessibility 
Inventory module, tools 
used for fieldtuork are 
described and demonstrat- 
ed for students. 

I did manage to copy the data files from the hard drive today 
and look at the results. So far. about 1 7 people have used the sys- 
tem. Three of these are Dan. Rick, and me. Among the remain- 
ing are a feu- that I know looked at it just to get an ivnderstand- 
ing of what we are doing with Authorware and a couple that are 
interested in doing research or thesis work on universal design. 
This too is a sign of the natural shifi in student interest that 
comes about as faculty become involved in research in any topic 
area. As a result of faculty participation normally resources and 
easy contacts become available to students and this infuerices 


Tools tef Acc»55ibi&y 

in ihis «j*o*w#„you *S 
team about tfie toots us&d 
t» oondod ar>acc»sssb&y 

Text trtformafcon wig ". 

while pictures, and wd«o 
oiips wi bo shown: ff*th* 
upper right screen ar*a. 
irtaracacn opportune** 
w§j occ^» ri the lower tight 
screen area. 


Strategies for Teaching Universal Design 


Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

their choice of areas of study (along with other forces internal to the students to be 
sure). At any rate, it appears that about 12 people have somehow taken some time 
to look at the system, I have not checked to see how much time has been spent. 
(Journal, 10/29/93, Principal Investigator) 


The tutorial application maintained an electronic record of student use. The table 
shows the raw data collected at the end of the Fall semester 1993- 


# of Sessions 


(in minutes) 

Total Time 
(in minutes) 























































Approximately 1 50 graduate and undergraduate students had access to the system. 
Sixteen students took advantage of the tutorials. These students used the system for a 
total of 5.57 hours and spent, on average, 12 minutes each time they used the system. 
Only three students used the system more than once during the semester. 

Little data on system use was recorded for the Spring semester 1994. The com- 
puter on which the tutorials reside suffered some major operating system problems 
during the course of this semester. For this reason, it is not clear whether the lack of 
data reflects actual use of the tutorials. 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

As the data indicate, it is doubtful that the tutorials had much 
direct influence on the attention students gave to universal design in 
their work. Students in each course were reminded that multimedia 
resources were available. Because the research objective was to test 
the use of multimedia tutorials in an open lab environment, the pro- 
ject team intentionally made no requirement to use them. Approximately 
one third of the students enrolled in the studio used the tutorials. In the 
technical course, one fifth of the students used them. Of the remaining 
one hundred (more or less) students in the program, only four individuals 
used the tutorials. 

Did Not Use 

Design Studio (LAR 5704) 

Use of the tutorials was substantially higher among students who 
had assignments with explicit universal design requirements. Still, not 
even half of the students who had explicit project requirements took Did Not &* 
time to view the tutorials. 


Did Vm 


Though the data is inconsistent, it appears likely that students attempt- 
ed to use the tutorials more than the library (located one block away) to 
gather information about universal design. This may suggest that physical 
proximity is an important factor in getting students to use electronic 
learning resources. 

Technology Course (LAK 59X4) 

Our project team also evaluated the quality of student work from 
both courses. This evaluation identified few influences in the work 
attributable to use of the tutorials. A rigorous evaluation of the student work was 
planned. Unfortunately, the level of detail and communication in the work was not 
sufficient to warrant more than a cursory review. In the opinion of the reviewers, the 
products did not reflect the level of quality that is normal and expected from students 
in the program. 


Through UDEP, the project team has learned some things about teaching universal 
design and about computer-aided instruction. The team was surprised by how readily 
students embrace the notion of universal design. Once presented with the idea, stu- 
dents seem to accept at face value that design of the landscape should serve the 
needs of as many people as possible. Misjudging the student's willingness to incorpo- 
rate universal design into their work caused our team to spend more effort than nec- 
I essary on presenting basic foundations and justifications. 

Strategies for Teaching Universal Design. 225 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

Based on professional experiences with universal design in recreation settings, the 
team believes that students must possess knowledge of universal design that goes 
substantially beyond proper values. Once a student espouses the value of universal 
design, the educational focus shifts rapidly toward acquiring technical knowledge 
about user needs and developing good judgment regarding its implementation. It is 
important to have access to technical facts, such as the required height of benches. 
These dimensions, however, take on new meaning when a wheelchair user explains 
how she transfers to the bench. The team members have worked with two consul- 
tants who use wheelchairs and each has very different needs and opinions about 
what is workable. Working with consultants helps in understanding the human 
dimensions of landscape architecture, but in the end, the responsibility of exercising 
judgment falls on the designer. This holds true even where issues of code confor- 
mance are concerned. 

The reviewers feel that little of the work from either course shows much insight 
or inspiration with regard to universal design issues. One exception is a student who 
began to develop a system of universally designed streetscape elements. While the 
details had many errors and oversights, the concept of integrated anangement and 
detailing of streetscape elements represents an intriguing universal design issue. The 
attention given to universal design issues, in both the design and technical courses, 
tended to take the form of standard curb cut, ramp, and drinking fountain details. In 
most cases, details were reproduced from published sources and were so poorly 
done that the student versions would not pass basic codes. Interviews with a profes- 
sor, a graduate teaching assistant, and a graduate student indicate why the results may 
have been less than anticipated. 

The project team felt that the universal design assignments were introduced too 
late in the semester to expect good results. One team member interviewed the studio 
professor and a graduate student who agreed with the team's assessment that "its 
tough to introduce new material, substantial new material, after the Thanksgiving 
Break time of Fall anyway." 

Student: I felt like the universal design was sort of a last minute thing that got 
pushed in there. ..J felt more like it was there to acquaint us with it... but 1 was in a 
big rush that whole time. 

Professor: Yeah, and that's something that Ben and I need to look at if we're going 
to do it again because according to his schedule it had to be the last part of the 
semester. But nonetheless, many of the [students] didn 'tget their feet into this pro- 
ject. ... In a quick project you 'ue got to get into it basically fast and they didn 't — 
they were still wrapping up other things. It wasn't the presentation but it was other 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

aspects of it. So, that was part of it too. You know, there were too many projects. 
And. I think you 're right about trying to start something as a new piece. 

The studio professor expressed concern over misjudging the amount of work 
assigned to the students during the semester. She feels that one too many projects 
were required and that this adversely affected the students' performance in the studio. 

Professor: My conclusion about that project was that it was one too many projects 
for the semester. They didn 1 meet the objectives of the project which were to ...take 
a space and work it through to the level of detail and materiality, and they didn 't 
do that. As a matter of fact, most of them didn 't even get to the point where they 
resolved the idea of the space and what they wanted to explore in terms of the com- 
munity, let alone how they were going to express it. So, I didn t consider the project 
to be a success in terms of the objectives that were set up for it. There were too 
many projects. J mean, knowing that we had to have that project at the end of the 
semester I should have knocked out the first one... 

Among other things the lack of time resulted in students using few resources relat- 
ed to universal design in the completion of their studio work. 

Interviewer: You made reference to resources that they could pick up. Did you 
notice in the studio what kinds of things, if anything, were evident in terms of 
resources that were used to address accessibility questions? 

Professor: No, I can t say that I did. When I said references. I meant that I. ..had a 
list of references and I included the module... and I spoke to them about the avail- 
ability of the handbook and some of the other material that was available by way of 
guidelines. I did not, you know, follow it up to see whether they had gone to the 
library... and I can 't say that I remember noticing much.... 

The graduate student indicated that she was unable to find much resource infor- 
mation dealing explicitly with universal design. 

Student: And I just looked in all the books that I could Jind. But most things were 
dealing along the ADA guidelines. Universal design is fairly new. It wouldn 't be in 
many of the books I was finding, would U? 




Strateg ws for Teach in aI Design 227 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

It appears that many of the students relied on a single lecture, given by a member 
of the project team to the technology course, for their understanding of universal 
design. In their interviews, both the graduate student and the teaching assistant men- 
tioned that lecture as helpful. 

In the studio, students spent much of the semester developing proposals at the 
urban district scale. The final component of the project was intended to be the 
design of an urban open space. As is common in studios, time ran out before all the 
students were able to complete all the work that the professor had planned. The stu- 
dio professor expressed a need for about two more weeks of studio time to bring the 
work to the level she expected. 

The exercise given in the technical course received relatively little weight in the 
final semester grade. Students appeared to "blow it off." Those who were in both 
the studio and the technical course struggled to create construction details because 
their schematic design proposals were not sufficiently developed. Unfortunately, the 
bulk of the work for both assignments took place at the end of the semester when 
the students are anxious and tired. As a result, there is limited value to evaluating the 
students' work. 

Perhaps the prototype received little use because it provided only minimal techni- 
cal and experience-related support to the students, a result of the team's decisions 
about content rather than limitations inherent in multimedia. While the computer will 
not replace the need for contact with end users, multimedia can be used to present 
case studies and technical information effectively. One reason the prototype did not 
move further in this direction was the difficulty encountered in locating resources for 
quality case studies. 

The level of familiarity that students have with the computer influences their will- 
ingness to use it as an informational and instructional resource. The interviewed stu- 
dent who was quite familiar with computers tended to focus on the mechanics of the 
application and ignore the content. 

Graduate Assistant: Actually, I was looking for more vocal material. I wanted it to 
talk more. It didn't talk enough. A couple things... actually the sound effects are 
what I was interested in the most. There were a couple of sounds that I can t 
remember... maybe there were some comic strips or something in a few of the 
images. I thought that was interesting 

His peer, less familiar with computers, expressed reluctance to use the tutorials 
without someone to assist. 


'Enrolling Students with Disabilities in a Design Class' 

Student: / think the fact that it is on a computer.. J never would hate done it if 
Howard [fellow student and computer literate] hadn 1 taken me in there, sat down 
and turned it on for me. 

The prototype tended to overlook these differences among end users. In choos- 
ing to use the tutorials to experiment with multimedia, the project team violated two 
well-documented principles of computer-assisted instruction. The tutorials did not 
present the user with a consistent interface and the level of user control was varied. 
As a result, the presence of the computer was emphasized rather than minimized. 

By intention, use of the tutorials was not tied to any specific course in the curricu- 
lum. At the same time, the development of the database to attend the tutorials was 
delayed so that it was not in place during the evaluation. The interviews suggest that 
students are interested in access to raw information where the computer serves to 
facilitate searches. The tutorials with less user flexibility were seen as unduly linear 
and constraining (even for less experienced computer users). 

Student: Maybe because I didn 1 know how to use it, but sometimes there were 
parts I didn t want to deal with that you had to go through to get to the next part. I 
was looking for information rather than trying to answer all those questions to pro- 
ceed to the next part at times. 

Considering the limited amount of use the tutorials received it appears they 
should be used with some caution in open lab environments. The cost and effort 
involved in development of multimedia-based instruction that is not course specific 
may not be justified. On the other hand, the availability of user friendly data search- 
ing applications seems to hold much promise as a means of expanding resources 
available to design students. 

At the outset the project team made a choice to emphasize values (through the 
development of tutorials) rather than information (through development of a data- 
base). Students readily espoused the values inherent in universal design when these 
were presented. Because this was occurring through a number of channels simultane- 
ously, the importance of the tutorials was over estimated. In choosing to emphasize 
values rather than information, the project team misjudged the educational needs of its 

The level of use and resulting influence of the tutorials appears to be less than 
anticipated. The data suggests that the presence of the project team had more influ- 
ence than the tutorials. However, the range of activities and frequency of discussion 
related to universal design has substantially increased. If increased discourse about 

Strategies for Teaching I yy.iersal Design 229 

Chapter 25: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

universal design will indeed change habits of practice, we can anticipate that a future 
generation of designers will place higher value on the needs of people with disabili- 

As noted in the principal investigator's journal, awareness and acceptance of uni- 
versal design values and concepts increased substantially during the course of the 
UDEP work. The interviewed students indicated a desire to incorporate universal 
design concepts in their future work. Similarly, the interviewed professor expressed 
the intention to continue opening this issue to students in future studios and to adjust 
the schedule to better accommodate investigation. It is difficult to attribute this 
change to any single activity or intervention, but clearly the UDEP work has been a 
contributing factor. 


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