Universal design means nothing more than best usability for as many people as possible.
One thing is clear: Good usability is a decisive success factor for every product and every service. This is why smart companies today rely on solutions in universal design.
The art here is to transform optimum usability for everyone into a stylish design.
From the very beginning, Apple focused on the best possible usability of its mobile devices. They should be so simple and intuitive that an iPhone can be operated without a user manual, even “blind”. To meet this requirement, Apple worked closely with blind and visually impaired usability experts. This resulted, for example, in the language assistant Siri, which is today a favourite of all Apple fans. Not just those with visual impairments.
This simple and convenient usability was and is a central element in Apple’s success.
Threshold-free passages are not only safer, they also look much better than conventional doorways. Alumat Frey GmbH launched its first magnetic door for threshold-free indoor passages as early as 1988. Outdoors, the magnetic zero threshold doors have been in use for 20 years. Two magnet profiles, additional rubber seals and the patented drainage system ensure absolute safety from water, air and sound.
The traditional company Felix Austria from Austria found a solution for something that has been annoying thousands of people every day for years:
The lids of food jars are too difficult to open.
Felix jars with cucumbers, sughi and salads now offer a new lid with innovative ring technology.
Our test showed: The new lid indeed opened without much effort and without the usual aids – universal design at its best!
No need for years of development or high costs here. Simply a good idea in the sense of universal design and an open mind of the decision makers:
Upon the suggestion of Albrecht Hung, Chairman of the Association of people with disabilities in Kempten, McDonalds has fitted bar tables in its Kempten branch with a second, lower tabletop.
The company Reinhold Keller GmbH from Kleinheubach in Bavaria has perfectly realised Mr. Hungs idea: Now children and people in wheelchairs can also comfortably place their drinks and food on the table. In addition, bags, scarves and gloves find ideal, clean and safe storage space.
Who remembers the old trams and buses?
When getting on and off, 2-3 narrow and steep steps had to be overcome. For prams, shopping trolleys or suitcases you needed the help of the driver or other passengers. Walking impaired people and wheelchair users could not use this public transport at all.
Today, however, the comfortable low-floor vehicles have long since become standard. Because they are simply much more comfortable and safe. And everyone can use them – which naturally means more passengers and more revenue for the operators.
A good example of how universal design creates a win-win situation.
The stylish porcelain tableware in the Neufchâtel series from Villeroy & Boch has been specially developed for people with limited motor skills.
But safe and comfortable handling of porcelain is never wrong.
Secure gripping of all parts, anti-tilt protection for the cup, steep walls and wiper edges convince in terms of ergonomics and practicality. Nevertheless, all seven parts look very elegant and attractive.
The company even received the Universal Design Award 2017 for this.
Universal Design is particularly in demand in the sanitary area. After all, the barrier-free bathrooms in 50s hospital design are no longer acceptable today.
Instead, floor-level showers are the latest trend. Mirrors that reach down to the edge of the washbasin make the bathroom look more spacious. Light switches, sockets and hairdryer are within easy reach for all.
At Kaldewei the corners and edges of sanitary elements are rounded off. Sturdy, firmly bolted furniture does not fall over if it suddenly has to serve as a support.
In universal design, all this is called fault tolerance.
When a tourism consultant and accessibility expert becomes the editor of a magazine, universal design comes out at its best!
Julia Marmulla supports with her company Accessibility PLUS Comfort tourism companies and travellers with disabilities.
Therefore, it was clear to her that the magazine “Meine Reisewelt. Unique-comfortable-accessible” must also be accessible to all. Therefore the 2-senses principle is applied: Readers can either read the content themselves, or scan a speech code and have the respective article read aloud to them.
The Allgäu Art Hotel in Kempten, Germany proves that a hotel can be completely barrier-free and yet chic, cheerful and well designed.
Here, already the planning took the principles of universal design into account. A lowered reception area, threshold-free passages, haptic, clearly legible lettering, tables and beds that can be driven under, floor-level showers and spacious elevators provide a pleasant hotel stay for people with disabilities.
The modern, cheerful design and good service now also attracts many business travellers and tourists.
Families with small children, people with disabilities or even old people, who are not so fit and safe on their feet, would like to enjoy the mountains.
The Tyrolean Kaunertal has specialised in these target groups. Hiking trails, viewing platforms and of course funiculars are easily accessible with prams and wheelchairs. You can even hire equipment to help you uphill. And of course there are also suitable accommodations in universal design.
A highlight for guests is the Kaunergrat Nature Park. The nature park house is completely barrier-free. The spectacular viewing platform “Gacher Blick” is easily accessible via a ramp. The nature trail at Piller Moor is equipped with audio info via NFC Speech Tags.
Increasing numbers of guests prove it: Universal Design is a sales driver!