Evaluating Universal Design in Built Environments - A Scoping Project

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018:256:689-695.


This project aimed to scope existing methods of evaluating the application of universal design to built environments and to explore relevant knowledge of key stakeholders, such as architects, access consultants and people who experience disability. The project commenced in 2017. Ethics approval was gained and a mixed methods approach was employed. Methods of data collection included electronic survey and in-depth interview. Early survey findings are reported in this paper. A descriptive approach was used to analyse quantitative data. A total of 157 survey responses were received from across Australia (83%) and internationally (16.6%). Preliminary findings indicate that most survey respondents (72%) had been involved in the process of applying universal design to the design of built environments. Although evaluating the application of universal design was rated as "extremely important" by 85% of respondents, only 36% had such experience. Of these, 74% had used specific tools for this purpose. Non-standardised checklists and access audits were the most frequently used and preferred tools. Overall, stakeholders perceived themselves to have 'some knowledge' on universal design theory and application. This project offers insight into how universal design is understood and applied to the design of built environments. Findings suggest that evaluation is less common than application and that there is a need to strengthen existing methods of evaluation to provide greater detail on universal design processes and outcomes.

Keywords: Application; Built Environment; Evaluation; Knowledge; Universal Design.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Built Environment*
  • Checklist
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Environment Design*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires