Libraries have many reasons to create accessible facilities to visitors with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, including legal requirements, policy guidelines, and a professional focus on equity and inclusion. At a minimum, all US libraries are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that structural barriers in libraries be removed or remediated to allow people with disabilities to access spaces.
The American Library Association’s Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy declares that “Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources, and services meet the needs of all people.” Universal design for libraries goes beyond meeting the baseline guidelines for accessibility as required by the ADA. This area of ongoing development may also be called "inclusive design" or "accessible design." The resources on this page provide guidance and examples of universal design in public spaces and/or specific to libraries.
Updated April 2021
Universal Design (UD) is defined as “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.” In the late 1990s a team of UD experts at NC State University developed a set of seven principles that are in general use today (Center for Universal Design, 1997). These are:
The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University. Retrieved from: https://projects.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/about_ud/udprinciplestext.htm
Here are some resources that will help you design your course using the Universal Design for Learning Framework:
This interactive site has various framework factors that you can drill down by clicking the column and number. For example, if you wanted to locate more information on the column Multiple Means of Engagement (the Why), you can click through to Recruiting Interest and find checkpoints for further exploration.
Several blog posts and LibGuides provide context-specific information on accessible design for libraries of all types:
The following national centers and clearinghouses provide reliable and relevant information online for accessible, inclusive, and universal design: