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“What is a disability

other than a

disconnect between

an individual and

an environment?”

– Matt Springer

The concept goes much further, however, than just

addressing the needs of the disabled in a physical

environment. In his five years as the Coordinator

of the Office of Disability Services at IU Southeast,

Matt Springer has strived to make the campus more

convenient and accessible, not only for those with

physical disabilities, but for everyone. “One aspect of

Universal Design is environment,” Springer assures.

“Physical access – that’s important, but when you start

to change attitudes and start to change the climate

of the campus, not just to meet the needs of a small

number of people with physical impairment, but to

reach even more universally, then I think we’re doing a

really great job. Obviously we need to be as accessible

as possible.”

According to Springer, one of the most simple and

beneficial support systems that has been instituted

at IUS is Read and Write Gold, which is a literacy

software with support tools for reading, writing,

studying, and research, with such features as voice to

text, text read back, and a pronunciation tutor. While

the software was originally designed for students with

learning disabilities such as dyslexia, it has been found

to be beneficial to the visually impaired, non-English

speaking students, and virtually anyone looking for

assistance in reading and writing.

Springer’s goals at IU Southeast mirror the intention

of Universal Design. The term Universal Design

was coined by Ronald L. Mace, founder and former

program director of The Center for Universal Design

at North Carolina State University. In 1997, Ron

Mace collaborated with a group of architects, product

designers, engineers, and environmental designers

to develop the Seven Principles of Universal Design,

which are as follows.

1. Equitable Use:

The design is useful and marketable

to people with diverse abilities.

2. Flexibility in Use:

The design accommodates a

wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

3. Simple and Intuitive Use:

Use of the design is

easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience,

knowledge, language skills, or current concentration


4. Perceptible Information:

The design

communicates necessary information effectively to the

user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s

sensory abilities.

5. Tolerance for Error:

The design minimizes

hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or

unintended actions.

6. Low Physical Effort:

The design can be used

efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue.

7. 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.

The Universal Design website further defines the

concept as a design process evolved from accessible

design, which addresses the needs of people with

disabilities. Universal Design however, takes into

account the full range of human diversity, including