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Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility

The Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning (PACDAP) was formed by President Roderick McDavis in 2011 with the charge to develop a comprehensive disability and accessibility plan for Ohio University. The culmination of a multi-year planning process yielded the Ohio University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility (PDF). It is also available as a Word document.

Writing the Ohio University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility required input, wisdom and contributions from many individuals.  A sincere thank you to Ray Rood and the Genysys Group for providing the framework and structure for Strategic Planning process; Darrell Purdy, Paige Stretton, Steve Patterson, John McCarthy, Lacey Martin, and Carey Busch for their leadership and guidance in the writing of the Plan; Jennifer Kirksey and Laura Myers for being champions for the work of inclusion and accessibility throughout the planning process; David Descutner for using his voice to advocate for improving the University experience for persons living with disabilities; Ruth Blickle for her administrative acumen and support; all of the persons living with disabilities who contributed their perspective and voice; the University and greater community for contributing ideas and feedback throughout the strategic planning process; and President Roderick McDavis for naming the work of inclusion and accessibility as a priority for all of our campuses and for initiating this strategic planning process.


We offer special acknowledgement to Laura Myers and Harry Wyatt, the former co-chairs of PACDAP, whose dedication and purposeful resolve created the pathway for this plan. 


  • Carolyn Bailey Lewis
    • PACDAP Co-chair
      Instructor, College of Communication
      Director and General Manager Emerita, WOUB Public Media
  • Dianne Bouvier
    • PACDAP Co-chair
      Interim Executive Director, ADA/504 Coordinator, Title IX Coordinator
      Institutional Equity
  • Carey Busch
    • Assistant Dean for Student Accessibility
      Student Accessibility Services
  • Jenny Hall-Jones
    • Associate VP for Students Affairs and Dean of Students
  • Greg Kremer
    • Chair, Mechanical Engineering
  • Linda Lonsinger
    • Associate General Council
      Legal Affairs
  • Lacey Martin
    • Assistant to the CIO
      Information Technology
  • John McCarthy
    • Associate Director 
      Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Laura Myers
    • Chief of Staff
      Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Dick Planisek
    • Director, Facility Programming
      Architecture, Design & Construction
  • Darrell Purdy
    • Assistant Director for Employee Accommodation and Campus Accessibility, Institutional Equity
  • JW Smith
    • Associate Professor
      Communication Studies
  • Paige Stretton
    • Graduate Student
  • Harry Wyatt
    • Associate Vice President for Architecture, Design, and Construction


Current and previous PACDAP membership found at: www.ohio.edu/equity/pacdap   

For the past three years, the Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning led a strategic planning process to develop priorities, initiatives and strategies for Ohio University to move forward in becoming a leader for improving the inclusion and accessibility for persons living with disabilities.  The fundamental vision is to create a culture that inspires inclusion and considers access for persons living with disabilities in all decision-making throughout the University.  While providing direction for the next ten years, this document is written with the understanding that Strategic Plans are living, breathing documents that need to be aligned with institutional priorities over time.


Leadership, Assessment, Communication, Inclusion, Universal Design and Assistive Technology, and Funding and Resources are the six prioritized goals developed from the four target areas in the President’s Charge to the Council: Academic Access (A), Program and Web Access (P), Architectural Access (R), and Campus Climate for Persons with Disabilities (C).


The Strategic Plan proposes a framework for university-wide conversation toward implementation. Through the strategic planning process, multiple departments, individuals and community members across the University have articulated an interest in adopting or augmenting internal processes or services to champion inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities.


While legislation and regulations provide guidance for minimal standards expected from public institutions, Ohio University has the ability to serve as a leader on the local, state-wide and national level by demonstrating its commitment to excel in the work of inclusion and accessibility.  This Strategic Plan reminds the community of our obligation to remove barriers to access, as well as offers guidance for meeting the spirit of the law.  By adopting the Strategic Plan, we elevate our commitment toward full inclusion and safeguard our ability to meet both our legal responsibilities and aspirational goals by implementing a process that is intentional, systematic, and mindful of our resources.  Across the University and within the region, persons of all abilities are motivated to work collaboratively to become a model institution of higher learning.


The members of the Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning appreciate the opportunity to move this important work forward and are available to be resources and future players as the University moves toward implementation.


Carolyn Lewis and Dianne Bouvier

PACDAP Co-chairs

In the mid-2000s, Dr. Roderick McDavis formed the Presidential Advisory Council on Disability and Accessibility Planning (PACDAP) to ensure inclusion and access for faculty, staff, and students on all of the University’s campuses.  Re-constituted in 2010 with a “Proclamation of recommitment to full implementation of the ADA,” the Proclamation served as a public reinforcement of Ohio University’s commitment to serving the needs of students, faculty, and staff living with disabilities in the year of the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


In 2011, President McDavis charged the advisory council to prepare “recommendations for prioritized goals and strategies for each of the following targeted areas: Academic Access (A), Program and Web Access (P), Architectural Access (R), and Campus Climate for Persons with Disabilities (C). ”  Fuelled and energized by the President’s recommitment to the full implementation of the American’s with Disabilities Act and a focus of “work(ing) toward full accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities,” a dedicated group of students, staff, and faculty worked to create a pathway toward inclusion and accessibility for persons living with disabilities at Ohio University.

All disability rights legislation exists to ensure that the civil rights of persons living with disabilities are protected against acts of discrimination.  Significant regulations and legislation provide guidance on minimal requirements for public higher education institutions related to disability.  Key legislation includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA of 1990) and ADA, as Amended (ADAAA of 2008), and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, particularly Sections 503, 504, and 508.  The ADA (as Amended) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability including employment and education, and provides guidance on definitions for what constitutes a person living with a disability.  In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the 2013 reauthorization of Section 503 requires more intentional affirmative action in hiring and other employment actions for persons living with disabilities.  Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination" for programs or services provided by entities that receive Federal financial assistance, such as in higher education. (See Appendix A for Disability Legislation information.)

Although significant legislation has been in place in a variety of forms since the 1960s, as a group, people living with disabilities continue to experience significant gaps in areas that include financial, educational, and career attainment.  The Kessler Foundation 2010 report, The ADA, 20 Years Later [1] , indicates that people living with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as people without disabilities and that this gap has remained relatively unchanged since 1986.  While the factors that contribute to this are complex and not thoroughly understood, the report captures the significant differences in employment for people living with disabilities (21% report working full or part time) and people without disabilities (59% report working full or part time).  While reduced from a gap of 50 percentage points in 1998, a gap of 38 percentage points still remains.  It is also significant to consider that, even 20 years after the implementation of the ADA, 43% of the people living with disabilities who work report having experienced discrimination in the workplace on the basis of their disability.


Higher education has a significant role to play in meaningfully altering outcomes for persons living with disabilities.  On income alone, the National Center for Education Statistics states that in 2011, average salaries for those with a college degree were nearly twice as high as those without. [2]  While the Kessler report highlights some progress in increasing high school graduation rates for those living with disabilities (83% completion rate), a more significant disparity remains in college degree attainment.  In 2010, only 19% of people living with disabilities reported having a college degree compared to 27% of people without disabilities. This gap may persist, in part, due to the individual response model (creating access and accommodation where there is specific request) most institutions of higher education have employed under the legislation.  Recent decisions by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice indicate that the individual response approach has not been sufficient in creating access and opportunity for people living with disabilities.


Higher education institutions have the responsibility to not only provide individual accommodations, but also to make ongoing efforts to improve access for all students, faculty, staff and visitors; to inform the public of accessible routes throughout and between campus facilities; to assure events and classes take place in accessible locations; to identify emergency response protocol; and to have comprehensive plans for identifying and removing architectural and programmatic barriers. [3]


[1] Taylor, H.; Krane, D., Orkis, K. (2010 July). (Executive summary). Kessler Foundation/National Organization of Disabilities Survey of Americans with Disabilities. http://www.2010disabilitysurveys.org/pdfs/surveysummary.pdf


[2]  National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77


[3] Bowen, I. ADA One Consulting. http://ada-one.com

The adoption and implementation of the University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility represents Ohio University’s commitment to embracing a proactive and comprehensive planning approach to move toward a community that is fully inclusive and accessible.  Further, Ohio University recognizes the role it plays, as a leader in higher education, to create significant and lasting change in the lifelong outcomes by increasing access to education and employment for people living with disabilities and preparing global citizens who value the contributions of people with all abilities.


The Ohio University Disability Strategic Plan for Inclusion and Accessibility supports and complements Ohio University’s four fundamentals for inspired teaching and research focused on student success, innovative academic programs, exemplary student services, and integrated co-curricular activities that foster respect and inclusivity for all people.


The Strategic Plan will be used as a framework for determining specific measurable goals.  A designated work group will present bi-annual recommendations, with measurable outcomes, for each of the priority areas, to the President, the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.  

To move the work forward, PACDAP initiated a partnership with the Genysys Group who conducted a “Strategic Futuring” process with representatives from multiple Ohio University departments and planning units, Athens community and other universities within Ohio.  The Genysys Group’s strategic planning process included three phases:


Phase One: Inclusion and Accessibility Readiness Audit

The Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, and Threats (SCOT) activity examined the current internal and external perceptions and realities around the work of accessibility and inclusion at the University. Based on President McDavis’ charge, the SCOT analysis focused on the four areas of Academic Access, Program and Web Access,

Architectural Access, and Campus Climate in relationship to the successful inclusion of persons living with disabilities.


Phase Two : Vision Day

In April 2012, a Vision Day Workshop guided participants to identify a unifying direction for Inclusion and Accessibility at Ohio University and to begin an ongoing planning process designed to translate that vision into reality. 


The Vision Day participants responded to their shared futuristic vision of Inclusion and Accessibility at Ohio University by addressing the following strategic questions:


  1. What is the nature of the Ohio University student experience that allows for optimal learning for students of all abilities?
  2. What is the nature of the Ohio University employee experience (faculty/staff) that allows for optimal contribution by employees of all abilities?
  3. What exists to allow people of all abilities access to freely navigate and utilize any campus space?
  4. What exists to allow students across abilities to freely interface with educational resources at Ohio University?
  5. What are the indicators of success for students, faculty, and staff as they relate to inclusion and accessibility?


Phase Three: Strategic Planning Day

In May 2012, faculty, staff, and administrators of Ohio University met to begin the process of translating the results of Ohio University’s Vision Day on Inclusion and Accessibility into a strategic planning process.  Based on Vision Day activities, six goals were identified to serve as the foundation for Ohio University’s strategic plan and related processes.  The six goals operated as guideposts for creating the strategic plan priorities for our campus community and included: Leadership, Assessment, Inclusion, Communication, Universal Design and Assistive Technology, and Funding and Resources.  Contributions and discussion between both persons living with disabilities and those representing functional areas strengthened the strategic planning process.


After the Three Phases were completed, the next steps in the strategic planning process involved developing strategic initiatives and vetting them both with targeted functional areas and persons living with disabilities. (A list of vetting partners is in Appendix C.)  Following that, a public forum and on-line public feedback process allowed for further discussion and development of the Strategic Plan. 

Ohio University sees Inclusion and Accessibility as becoming the guiding framework for educational and employment approaches throughout the University and a foundational consideration for all physical planning, resource allocation and
service delivery.

The Vision is founded on the following values and beliefs:

  1. A commitment to a discrimination-free campus;
  2. Affirmation that persons living with disabilities have the same privileges, full participation and inclusion in the Ohio University community;
  3. An unshakeable commitment to practice respect, value and celebration of differences persons with disabilities bring as an essential ingredient of the Ohio University campus community;
  4. Assurance that the work of inclusion and accessibility enables equality of opportunity for all abilities;
  5. Partnering with “all abilities” to build a campus community that reflects an experience of positive inclusion; and
  6. Being both responsive and proactive to potential barriers that are architectural, programmatic, service, and/or attitudinal in nature that limit the work of inclusion and accessibility.
  7. Commitment to elevating the voice of people living with disabilities as a prime measurement for Ohio University’s work of inclusion and accessibility. 

The following coding is used to identify which targeted area(s) are addressed within each Strategy: Academic Access (A), Program and Web Access (P), Architectural Access (R), and Campus Climate for Persons with Disabilities (C).

Leadership: To develop sufficient transformational leadership within Ohio University that includes people living with disabilities that is inspirational in its practice, collaborative in its approach and resolute in its commitment to create pathways with those living with disabilities to experience themselves as welcomed, wanted and needed members of the Ohio University community.


Initiatives and Strategies

  1. Ensure that individuals within decision-making positions at the University sustain institutional commitment for inclusion and accessibility for persons living with disabilities.
    1. Provide continuous support to key decision-makers that enables them to participate in creating an inclusive and accessible community for persons living with disabilities (A, P, R, C)
    2. Integrate inclusion and accessibility into university campus planning efforts (A, P, R, C)
  2. Create an institutional culture which engages all faculty, staff and students as leaders in the work of inclusion and accessibility.
    1. Orient campus employees to Universal Design and inclusion (A, P, R, C)
    2. Support employees to incorporate these concepts within their sphere of influence (A, P, R, C)
    3. Incentivize opportunities for faculty and staff to incorporate accessibility and inclusion into their research, curriculum, service and operations (A, P, R, C)
    4. Foster student involvement in the work of inclusion and accessibility (A, P, R, C)
  3. Collaborate with local communities to improve inclusion and accessibility within our region.
    1. Develop community partnerships with organizations and agencies working with and advancing the lives for those living with disabilities in our community (A, P, R, C)
    2. Make Ohio University expertise and resources available throughout the region (A, P, R, C)
  4. Establish Ohio University as an advocate and leader in inclusion and accessibility at the State and national levels.
    1. Fulfill our commitment to become a model educational institution and leader striving for full inclusion and accessibility (A, P, R, C)
    2. Advocate for increased resources to support inclusion and accessibility in higher education (A, P, R, C)
  5. Actively include Disability Leadership at the highest levels of decision-making.
  6. Proactively seek and obtain input from people living with disabilities, ADA/504 Coordinator, Student Accessibility Services (SAS), and Employee Accommodations Coordinator in assessing, influencing and affecting policies, practices, and planning throughout the University (A, P, R, C)
  7. Engage departments to develop processes and procedures around campus inclusion and accessibility (A, P, R, C)

Assessment: To develop a comprehensive assessment strategy, including the identification and utilization of the criteria in the measurement and review of progress, towards the realization of Ohio University’s vision of inclusion and accessibility.


Initiatives and Strategies

  1. Conduct a university-wide ADA/504 audit evaluating inclusion and accessibility on all campuses.
  1. Establish comprehensive baseline data regarding built environments, services, policies and procedures throughout the University, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (A, P, R, C)
  2. Develop prioritization philosophy and transition plan to remove barriers (A, P, R)


  1. Establish a process and metrics for on-going evaluation and document progress toward achieving an accessible and inclusive environment.
  1. Develop a qualitative and quantitative matrix for assessment and evaluation of inclusion and accessibility (A, P, R, C)
  2. Ensure comprehensive reporting that documents the progress towards achieving inclusive and accessible campuses and communities (A, P, R, C)
  3. Integrate Strategic Plan initiatives into annual review and planning of academic, student service, and administrative areas (A, P, R, C)
  4. The voice of people living with disabilities will be a prime measure for assessing Ohio University’s work of inclusion and accessibility 

Inclusion: To create a national and international recruitment and retention program specifically focused on reaching those living with disabilities who desire to be students and employees of Ohio University.


Initiatives and Strategies


  1. Diversify the Ohio University workforce to be reflective of people with all abilities within all employment categories.
  1. Deploy a national and international recruitment program focused on reaching those living with disabilities who desire to be employees of Ohio University (P, C)
  2. Incentivize a program to support the hiring of persons living with disabilities (P, C)
  3. Implement a retention program for employees living with disabilities that support the individual and department (A, P, R, C)
  1. Diversify the student body so that it is representative of the diversity of people with all abilities.
  1. Develop recruitment services that specifically target students living with disabilities (A, C)
  2. Expand retention practices to support the academic and personal success of students living with disabilities (A, P, R, C)
  1. Foster campus cultures that are inclusive and responsive to the concerns of employees, students and visitors living with disabilities.
  1. Update university policies and procedures to promote inclusion and accessibility (A, P, R, C)
  2. Actively seek and obtain input from people living with disabilities (C)
  3. Deliver on-going training and programs to campuses related to inclusion (C)
  4. Implement protocols that ensure accessibility barriers impacting day-to-day activities are seamlessly responded to in a timely way (A, P, R, C)

Communication: Develop and implement an ongoing communication strategy that encourages, engages, educates and empowers all Ohio University community members to embrace the emerging paradigm for the work of inclusion and accessibility.


Initiatives and Strategies


1. Develop a communication plan to educate and promote the work of inclusion and accessibility for persons living with disabilities.

  1. Articulate and promote a university-wide commitment to incorporate intentional inquiry around disability into every decision and promotional opportunity on campus (A, P, R, C)
  2. Engage all campuses to participate in the work of inclusion and accessibility through continuous training and outreach (C)

2. Develop a communication plan to educate Ohio University about support services for persons living with disabilities.

  1. Convey clear procedures for students, faculty, staff and community to request and access accommodations  (A, P, C)
  2. Deliver on-going communication regarding grievance and complaint procedures (C)

Universal Design [1] and Assistive Technology: To incorporate universal design principles and assistive technology resources as fundamental components of all planning and delivery aspects associated with the operations of Ohio University so that the University experience is seamless and comparable for persons of all abilities.


 Initiatives and Strategies


  1. Infuse Universal Design principles into all program planning, physical planning, design, and service delivery.
  1. Incorporate Universal Design principles into new construction and renovation of existing facilities (R)
  2. Employ Universal Design concepts to provide a seamless experience for persons of all abilities to travel to and around all campuses (P, R, C)
  3. Design the interior spaces within buildings to fully support the access and inclusion of people living with disabilities in academic and non-academic settings (A, P, R, C)


  1. Utilize information technology that is accessible and inclusive for people of all abilities.
  1. Select technologies that are fully accessible for people living with disabilities including those who utilize assistive technology and alternative communication methods (A, P, C)
  2. Integrate assistive technology throughout the University (A, P, C)


  1. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) will be promoted and supported as a viable method of curriculum design and instruction.
  1. Provide awareness and training around UDL for curriculum and instruction (A, C)
  2. Incentivize integration of UDL into academic and applicable co-curricular activities (A, P, C)

[1] See Appendix B for more detailed information about Universal Design.

Funding and Resources: To develop and sustain a funding stream that enables persons living with disabilities to have the opportunity to fully participate in the Ohio University experience as students, employees and guests.


Initiatives and Strategies

  1. Allocate sufficient funding and resources to support inclusion and accessibility in academics, infrastructure and facilities.
  1. Commit sufficient funding to systematically address the issues identified in the ADA Audit and the recommended priorities (P, R)
  2. Designate sufficient funding to incorporate ADA/504 accessibility improvements and Universal Design into all capital improvement projects (P, R)


  1. Allocate sufficient funds and resources to respond to and remedy immediate barriers to access for students, employees or guests of all campuses.
  1. Allocate annual funding to address acute and one-time issues of ADA/504 non-compliance as they arise (Projects <$50,000) (A, P, R, C)
  2. Commit annual funding to support students, faculty, staff and community members living with disabilities to fully participate in university-sponsored events (A, P, R, C)


  1. Allocate sufficient resources to support the implementation of the Strategic Plan and provide services to persons living with disabilities.
  1. Apportion the funding and resources necessary to systematically support the implementation of the Strategic Plan (A, P, R, C)
  2. Earmark funding to amply support services related to accessibility and inclusion (A, P, C)


  1. Secure external funds to support the work of inclusion at Ohio University, the region, State and nationally.
  1. Identify fundraising opportunities to enhance our ability to reduce barriers and increase participation for persons living with disabilities, beyond ADA/504 compliance (A, P, R, C)
  2. Collaborate with partners to advance the work of inclusion and accessibility throughout the region and State of Ohio (A, P, R, C)

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.  To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability.  An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA ensures that issues related to inclusion and accessibility for people living with disabilities through five general areas.  


Title I: Employment

Title II: State and Local Government Public Services

Title III: Public Accommodation

Title IV: Telecommunications

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions


ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)

The ADAAA makes changes to the definition of the term "disability," clarifying and broadening that definition—and therefore the number and types of persons who are protected under the ADA and other Federal disability non-discrimination laws.  It was designed to strike a balance between employer and employee interests. 


The ADAAA requires that courts interpreting the ADA and other Federal disability non-discrimination laws focus on whether the covered entity has discriminated, rather than whether the individual seeking the law's protection has an impairment that fits within the technical definition of the term "disability."  The Act retains the ADA's basic definition of "disability" as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.  However, it changes the way that the statutory terms should be interpreted.


Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors.  The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


           ▪ Section 501

           Requires affirmative action and non-discrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch

           ▪ Section 503

           Requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000.00   

           ▪ Section 504

States that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency… Each Federal agency has its own set of section 504 regulations that apply to its own programs.

▪ Section 508

Establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.


Architectural Barriers Act (1968)

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) requires that buildings and facilities that are designed, constructed, or altered with Federal funds, or leased by a Federal agency, comply with Federal standards for physical accessibility.  ABA requirements are limited to architectural standards in new and altered buildings and in newly leased facilities.  They do not address the activities conducted in those buildings and facilities.


Source: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws (2009). Department of Justice. http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm

Universal Design : The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.


The authors, a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, collaborated to establish the following Principles of Universal Design to guide a wide range of design disciplines including environments, products, and communications.  These seven principles may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments.  The Principles of Universal Design are presented here, in the following format: name of the principle, intended to be a concise and easily remembered statement of the key concept embodied in the principle; definition of the principle, a brief description of the principle's primary directive for design; and guidelines, a list of the key elements that should be present in a design which adheres to the principle. (Note: all guidelines may not be relevant to all designs.)

PRINCIPLE ONE: Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.


Guidelines :

1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.

1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.

1c. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.

1d. Make the design appealing to all users.


PRINCIPLE TWO: Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.


Guidelines :

2a. Provide choice in methods of use.

2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.

2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.

2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.


PRINCIPLE THREE: Simple and Intuitive Use

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.


Guidelines :

3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.

3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.

3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.

3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.

3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.

PRINCIPLE FOUR: Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.


Guidelines :

4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.

4b. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.

4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.

4d. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).

4e. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.


PRINCIPLE FIVE: Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.


Guidelines :

5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.

5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.

5c. Provide fail safe features.

5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.


PRINCIPLE SIX: Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.


Guidelines :

6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.

6b. Use reasonable operating forces.

6c. Minimize repetitive actions.

6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.


PRINCIPLE SEVEN: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.


Guidelines :

7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.

7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.

7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.

7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.


Please note that the Principles of Universal Design address only universally usable design, while the practice of design involves more than consideration for usability. Designers must also incorporate other considerations such as economic, engineering, cultural, gender, and environmental concerns in their design processes.  These

Principles offer designers guidance to better integrate features that meet the needs of as many users as possible. 

Citation: Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story, and Gregg Vanderheiden. The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.

Disclaimer: “The Principles of Universal Design were conceived and developed by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University.  Use or application of the Principles in any form by an individual or organization is separate and distinct from the Principles and does not constitute or imply acceptance or endorsement by The Center for Universal Design of the use or application.”

Major funding provided by: The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education

Copyright © 1997 NC State University, The Center for Universal Design. 

We are grateful to all of the people who provided input in this strategic planning process, including our vetting partners.






Joe Adams

Associate Vice President

Risk Management & Safety




Admissions Staff






Alden Library Staff






Athens City Commission on Disabilities






Colleen Bendl

Chief Human Resource Officer

Human Resources




Shawna Bolin


Space Management




Robin Brigante

Athens City Commission on Disabilities; Inclusion Change Team

Person Living with A Disability




Gwen Brooks

Director, Employment and Recruitment

University Human Resources




Jeff Campbell


Environmental Health & Safety




Shari Clarke

Vice Provost

Diversity and Inclusion




Amy Dean

Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director of Administration & Sport Programs

Intercollegiate Athletics




Marjorie DeWert


eLearning OHIO;

Universal Design and Assistive Technology Change Team




Berry Dilley


Athens City Commission on Disabilities




Susanne Durst

Assistant Director, Employment and Recruitment

University Human Resources;

Inclusion Change Team




Lorna Jean Edmonds

Vice Provost

Global Affairs




Jason Farmer

Director of Facilities – Convocation Center

Intercollegiate Athletics




Financial Aid and Registrar Offices






Larry Jageman


Athens City Commission on Disabilities




Jenny Hall-Jones

Associate VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Student Affairs




Dan Hauser

Senior Associate Athletic Director of External Operations

Intercollegiate Athletics




Joe Lalley

Senior Associate Vice President

Technologies & Administration




Ryan Lombardi

Vice President

Student Affairs




Dawn Mollica

Coordinator, Rural and Underserved Programs

Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine; Universal Design and Assistive Technology Change Team




Marty Paulins


Transportation Services




People living with Disabilities






Greg Polzer


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Athens




Regional Campus Deans Meeting






Jim Schaus


Intercollegiate Athletics




David Simon

Planning Analyst

Space Management




Duane Starkey

Interim Chief Information Officer

Information Technology




Student Accessibility Services Staff






Matthew Tragert

Instructional Technology Specialist

Fine Arts




University Communications and Marketing Management Team