In The Universal Designer’s Workbook, we invite kids to empathize with a diverse range of people and evaluate the accessibility of their home or school building. Kids explore different features and spaces and come up with new design solutions that improve the usability of their building.
The Universal Designer’s Workbook was created as a companion activity to learning in two of our Explorer’s Library apps, Skyscrapers and Homes.
+ The Universal Designer’s Workbook (print it!)
+ A building (either your home or school will work)
+ A camera or drawing utensils
+ A clipboard or portable flat surface to write on
Teachers: this activity can be done at home or at school.
With this little book, you’ll learn how to design spaces, features, and appliances that are
accessible for all people—of all sizes, ages, abilities, and levels of mobility. Things that are
designed so that all people can easily and fully use them are called universal designs.
This is a big job but someone’s got to do it! Let’s get started.
1. Explore your home or school. Look and think. Study the doors, staircases, sinks, refrigerators—any features or appliances—closely.
Do you think everyone can use them fully and easily? Look at Universal Design Principles and Thinking About Accessibility
on pages 3 and 4 for hints and ideas.
2. Take a photo or make a sketch of features or appliances that may not be fully accessible to everyone.
3. Write a brief description of each feature.
4. Empathize and describe some challenges that people with different abilities or disabilities might have when using
the feature or appliance you’re looking at.
5. The fun part: redesign a feature you’ve recorded so that it’s more accessible. Make your own universal design.
Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
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