Anu Handa



What is Universal Design?

The term Universal Design was coined by the American architect Ronald Lawrence Mace. As a child, Mace contracted polio, and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He encountered various difficulties in accessing facilities around him because of his disability. He got involved in advocacy for accessibility in building design and Universal Design.

The concept was further strengthened by architect Selwyn Goldsmith, who also authored the book ‘Designing for the Disabled’ in 1963. His most notable achievement was the creation of the dropped kerb, that eased movement for wheelchair users.

Spaces need to be designed keeping Universal Design in mind so that each individual can live life to their full potential despite of disabilities. Spaces, which are designed according to principles of Universal Design, are inclusive for all, regardless of age, size, ability or disability. Please note that this is not specialized design for a minority of population, but just good design, which is the fundamental need for every design.

People who don’t belong to an average user group like the ones who are too obese or those with small stature, who find it difficult to use public spaces and other commodities because most products and spaces are designed for an average user. The concept of Universal Design is to design products and spaces such that they are useful to people with any kind of disability of the body or the mind while also ensuring it is useful for the general public. 

Education in Universal Design

Candidates who want to pursue a career in Universal Design can study the course at Postgraduate level. A popular college that offer courses in Universal Design is NID.

Eligibility Criteria for Universal Design

For Postgraduation Degree: To pursue a Masters in Universal Design, a Bachelors Degree in design is required. 

Entrance Exams for Universal Design

All popular colleges conduct entrance exams in order to offer admissions to aspiring candidates. Some of the top Entrance Exams for Design are conducted by NID, NIFT and CEPT.

Universal Design Course Curriculum

  • Human Diversity
  • Anthropometrics
  • User Engagement
  • Mobility & Circulation
  • Standard Measurements for Design
  • Design Research
  • Cognitive, sensory & physical human factors
  • Inclusive Design & Accessibility
  • Disability Research 

About the Author: Anu Handa is an Interior Designer, DIY Artist, Co-Founder and Educator at Mosaic Institute of Design. She has been the lead blogpost writer at since 2009. Her educational background in Interior Design, Urban Planning and the English Language has given her a broad base to cover a range of topics in her articles. Anu has spent 15+ years training Design & B.Arch Aspirants for entrance exams.

Passionate about Design Education, she’s briefly worked with Annamalai University as a paper setter for Design Exams. Likes to write about Design, Architecture and related fields, on online platforms like Quora. Aims at challenging the conventional & age old teaching methodology