“U” is for universal design!
Universal design is a term to describe an environment that is accessible to everyone no matter their age, size, or ability/disability.
This means have accessibility to all public buildings (i.e. ramps available for wheelchairs).
This means having a playground accessible for all children even if they are in a wheelchair.
This means having push buttons near doors so that going in/out of a building can be done independently.
This means having Braille throughout public buildings that provide understanding of the environment.
This means having those tiny little bumps (called “tactile paving”) at the ends of sidewalks so individuals who are blind know when they are about to step out into a road.
This means having a sand table at appropriate height available out on the playground so children in a wheelchair can play in the sand with their peers.
The list goes on forever.
For OTs, we are advocates for universal design. We make sure that environments are accessible for everyone. We make sure to advocate for universal design when new community playgrounds are being built. We remind the decision-makers in big plans that accessibility is key (and within the law). Universal design is essential and it is our responsibility to promote that within all contexts.