Design for All, Wikipedia: an incorrect definition with no solution.

Since several years, some members of the Design For All Italia Association have tried to revise the Wikipedia article that can be read online. Despite various attempts, the proposed changes are not accepted and a profound misunderstanding remains. Comparing or matching Design for All with Universal Design is incorrect precisely because they are profoundly different design approaches. Universal Design, Design for All, Inclusive Design, Human Centered Design, and many other design methods, work in the same direction: improving the quality of life and autonomy, empowering users, even if each has its own specifics and shared characteristics.

The official definition, which you can also find on this website with the appropriate insights, from the Stockholm Declaration of the EIDD of 2004, is the following:

Design for All is design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality. This holistic and innovative approach constitutes a creative and ethical challenge for all planners, designers, entrepreneurs, administrators and political leaders. Design for All aims to enable all people to have equal opportunities to participate in every aspect of society. To achieve this, the built environment, everyday objects, services, culture and information – in short, everything that is designed and made by people to be used by people – must be accessible, convenient for everyone in society to use and responsive to evolving human diversity. The practice of Design for All makes conscious use of the analysis of human needs and aspirations and requires the involvement of end users at every stage in the design process.

It seems immediately obvious that the 7 principles of Universal Design cannot be compared to Design for All, but rather to some principles of contemporary ergonomics. While on the one hand we are talking about a holistic approach and therefore about the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge, on the other hand we are talking about respecting and applying a list of indications in order to be able to make the project fall within a discipline. Moreover, Design for All involves the end users and all stakeholders in the development of the project, while Universal Design does not make explicit the participatory aspect, and even less the respect for the dignity of individuals.

The Design for All Process

On this last point, Design for All is becoming more and more up-to-date and has anticipated by several years what is now referred to as co-design. The results of the Design for All process, in this way, are extremely more refined because they are able to collect and analyse expressed and submerged needs, trying to find one or more suitable solutions. We will return to the importance of the process and how it can be applied in practice in another article.This is necessary in order to motivate the involvement of the actors, not merely passive to validate the project, but encouraged to contribute their experience and creativity.