In universal design, objects are designed so that as many people as possible can use it easily. This process takes into account different skills, knowledge, and physical abilities or disabilities. It might seem as if it’s more work to create something that caters to specific disabilities. However, accessibility features don’t just benefit people with disabilities. They also help many sectors of the general public. This can be shown by something called the curb-cut effect.
What is the curb-cut effect?
The curb-cut effect is what happens when an accessibility feature benefits more people than the group it was originally made for.
The original curb cut is a small ramp that smoothly connects the curb, or pavement, with the road. It can be cut out of the actual pavement, or built directly next to it. While originally designed for wheelchair users, curb-cuts also benefit
- mothers with strollers
- small children
- users of walking aids
- people carrying heavy packages
Anyone who has problems moving or navigating steps benefits from a curb-cut!
From accomodations to expectations
There an added bonus from implementing universal design features like these: they become a normal part of daily life. Here are just a few examples:
- Subtitles or captions for the deaf and hard of hearing also benefit
- People who have trouble processing sounds
- People watching media in crowded or noisy environments (where they cannot hear sounds properly)
- People watching media in quiet environments, such as in a library or where someone is sleeping (where the sound may disturb others)
- Language learners
- Fidget spinners or stim (stimulation) toys for people with autism can also be helpful for
- People with attention disorders
- People with sensory processing issues
- People with anxiety
- People with self-harm issues or other harmful stims (skin-picking, nail-biting, cuticle-pushing)
- People who have problems concentrating on a task
- People who need to de-stress
- grocery delivery and rideshare services benefit those with mobility issues, as well as
- People who do not own cars or other forms of transport
- The elderly
- People with social anxiety or depressive disorders
- People who have no time to go shopping or to drive out
As universal design and accessible features make things easier for one group within society, they also benefit many others. All people, abled and disabled, stand to benefit from a world that’s designed to accommodate anyone who needs a little extra help.