“Isn’t Universal Design just a different term for Accessible Design?” We hear this from architects and designers a lot. While similarities exist, Accessible Design and Universal Design are actually quite different.
The term “Accessible Design” typically refers to compliance with Federal accessibility laws and state and local building codes; including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act, among others. Accessible Design requirements are based on anthropometric research – or the study of the human body – and are intended to address people with disabilities. Laws and codes that require compliance with Accessible Design requirements include little or no room for tolerance.