The origin of the universal design award lies in the rehabilitation techniques of the 1950s. The topic “Universal Design” however, has only been used by the American architect and designer Ronald L. Mace and employees of the Center for Universal Design of the North Carolina State University in the 1980s. They develop design concepts that make products, devices, surroundings and systems usable for as many people as possible, without adaptations or specializations. Including an easier access to all important society areas for handicapped people.
In Germany the association Universal Design e. V. was founded this way. This one also has for aim to encourage interdisciplinary duties, to create social inclusion, to question the future continuously. Attitude, responsibility, soon and continuous anchoring in explaining education, politics and economy and to ensure and foster economic growth.
About the Universal Design:
According to an extract of the Weimar explanation of the 1st national universal design experts conference, an initiative of the universal design e. V. Germany, Universal Design is explained as follows: it…
• places the main focus on people,
• is not only a design topic,
• is an interdisciplinary task,
• is open to all users,
• creates service systems,
• is a process, not a standard,
• promotes social inclusion,
• deals with questions concerning the future,
• is an attitude and a responsibility,
• must be firmly anchored in the education system, early and continually,
• undertakes to enlighten the worlds of politics and industry,
• secures and promotes economic growth.
The universal design award is an international competition which takes place once a year since 2008. The specialty is that all the presented works are critically examinated by an experts jury as well as by a consumers jury. All participating works, it doesn’t matter if products, architecture or services can therewith be honored – in the best case – with the universal design award as well as with the universal design consumer favorite.
Some of the calcification criteria accord to the areas: wide usability, flexibility in its usage, simple and intuitive utility, errors tolerance and safety, intercultural and economy criteria (for example market adaptation, market potential, viability, innovation, sustainability, ecology).
The jury of the universal design awards is composed by experts and users.
The experts-jury includes renowned designers and architects that implement the topic “universal design” as topical focus in their working approach. This experienced jury gives the universal design award.
100 people of the most different ages and professions compose the consumers jury of the universal design awards. They test the presented works intensely and decide about the offering of the consumer favorite award.