Have you ever designed a blog or website? How about an event poster or flyer? Maybe you have the opportunity to help redesign part of your library into a makerspace or teen reading area. What are some of the things you consider? If you find yourself considering lighting, shelf height and spacing, font size and style, or background patterns then you have considered elements of Universal Design (UD).
In layman’s terms, UD includes those elements you consider in order to make something easier for all users to access and use. Online, it can include your choice of background patterns or contrast between text and background color. It can also include how easy it is to locate and click on a button or hyperlink. In a physical space, you might consider lighting, flooring color and texture, the space between stacks, or even signage to help users locate various library services, like the bathrooms, the reference desk, or the copiers. For posters and flyers, you often have the same considerations as when designing in an online space, but you might also consider the height at which you post a flier, the background you place the flier upon, or the lighting where the flier is posted. Sure, hanging a banner from the ceiling might be easy to read for some, but what if it’s a short hallway and you use a wheelchair or you are shorter than average? And if you hang a flier on a glass door, can you still read the flier? Is it obstructing someone's view and causing a safety hazard?
These simple examples only touch on a few areas of UD. If you would like to learn more about Universal Design and why it is important to consider in your library, you can begin at ALA. You can also access this checklist from ALA or this one from Project enable.