Universal Design

In the world of accessibility, most want to do the right thing. The “right thing” of course is to ensure that any one user gets the same access to technologies as his/her colleagues. However, few may determine that the “right thing” is cost prohibitive and thus not readily achievable. The reason is usually due to the low number of working individuals that require a particular kind of access.

What is a software company that fashions accessible software to do in this case? They could reduce the cost of the software of course. However a cost reduction only goes so far if the number of intended users inside the organization is small in number.

The answer is related to design. How does a software company usually increase its value proposition? By adding features of course. How does a software company that specializes in accessibility increase its value proposition? By adding features yes but also by designing the product so that it meets the needs of more than one specific user type. This type of design is known as universal design.

When was the last time you used a curb cut or sidewalk ramp? What about closed captioned TV in a bar or loud place? These items were originally designed for an individual needing certain access but are now used by all.

This is the approach we take when designing accessaphone and ipTTY and frankly, this is the approach all manufacturers should take in their design process.

By making our products usable by more than one user type, we increase the overall value of the product. And by increasing the value of the product, we improve the chances that customers will determine the product readily achievable.

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