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National Council On Disability Says Universal Design Is Good Business
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 29, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--Making electronics and information technologies accessible to everybody just makes good business sense.

That's the conclusion of a study on universal design released Thursday by the National Council on Disability.

Universal design is a development process that attempts to make sure products are inclusive, accessible and usable by everyone, including people with disabilities.

The report, entitled "Design for Inclusion: Creating a New Marketplace", looked at the design of products such as ATM machines, cell phones, distance learning, personal digital assistants, televisions, and voice recognition software.

"People with disabilities want to use the same products that everyone else uses. They do not want to be limited to specialized products that are more costly," said NCD chairperson Lex Frieden in a press statement.

"Implementation of universal design is the best way to satisfy this desire of people with disabilities, while also providing more cost-effective products for all users. While it is impossible to satisfy the needs of all users, products and services that come closer to accommodating a variety of physical and cognitive differences will benefit both users and companies."

Among other things, researchers learned that product users with disabilities often had to pay high prices for products that had features they could not use; were reluctant to try technologies that had been frustrating for them in the past; had difficulty finding devices that matched their abilities because sales associates were not familiar with accessibility features; and were hesitant to invest in technologies without a proven accessibility record.

NCD came up with a list of recommendations for developers, including adopting universal design standards, involving users with disabilities in the design and product testing process, and establishing a clearinghouse where users can get information about accessibility issues and features of specific product lines.

The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the President and Congress to enhance the quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families.

Related:
"Design for Inclusion: Creating a New Marketplace" (National Council on Disability)

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