Universal Design: Moving the Americans with Disabilities Act from Access to Inclusion


  • Mary A. Hums University of Louisville
  • Samuel H. Schmidt University of Louisville
  • Andrew Novak George Mason University
  • Eli A. Wolff Brown University




The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has greatly improved the lives of people with disabilities in the United States. Initially thought to primarily require removal of physical barriers, the ADA has consistently been applied broadly to encompass all aspect of entities’ programs, services, and operations. As entities endeavored to comply with the ADA, several useful management strategies have emerged, one of which is this concept of Universal Design (UD). Universal Design guides managers in meeting their legal obligations under the ADA and also creating a more fully inclusive environment for employees and customers. “Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design” (IHCD, 2015b). The authors explain the important relationships between ADA’s legal mandate and Universal Design as a management strategy.






Original Research