Universal Design

Designed with Everyone in Mind

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Contact us now for a Universal Design evaluation

What is Universal Design?

We believe Universal Design is a process that enables and empowers a diverse population by removing physical and social barriers.  Outcomes include improvement in the areas of:

  • human performance
  • health and wellness
  • safety outcomes
  • social participation
  • economic measures

In short, universal design has the potential to make daily and work life healthier, more productive and friendlier. It’s a change in mindset by looking through a series of different lenses.

Forward-thinking, innovative organizations succeed by staying relevant in the marketplace and enriching experiences for all – including the workforce. Disability Inclusion Solutions (DIS) brings project management expertise in Universal Design and digital accessibility strategies to build out fully accessible workplaces.

We’ve teamed with Progressive AE to bring our proprietary tools to assist your company in creating an inclusive environment that is designed with everyone in mind. With a team of 200 professionals and more than 65 years of combined history as leaders in architecture and design, Progressive AE is an expert in creating buildings and spaces that meet the principles of Universal Design. Progressive AE  designed and built the Mary Free Bed YMCA , the first building in the world to receive certification in Universal Design from the Global Universal Design Commission.

As Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC) board members, our team was instrumental in the development of the first Universal Design Standards in the US. Universal Design has the potential to make daily and work-life healthier, more productive, and friendlier. It requires continuous improvement toward the ultimate goal of full inclusion.

Changing Culture and Processes

Many global corporations in search of adopting universal design into their built environment can find a variety of universal design checklists floating around the web. However, simply adopting a checklist without implementing a deliberative process typically results in the lack of commitment from key stakeholders, misunderstanding the applicability of universal design standards across a global footprint and the exclusion of third party vendors.

When adopting a proven universal design process, our customers successfully implement systemic cultural and process changes locally and globally throughout the design, development and finishing phases of new builds or when upgrading an existing building.

Our process:   

  • Determine the Stakeholder team
  • Understand organizational aspirations
  • Engage and educate stakeholders
  • Utilize site assessment tools
  • Create standards and other tools
  • Communicate P1 and P2 recommendations
  • Implement UD strategies into the physical space
  • GUDC certification 9-step process (Optional)
  • Continual improvement


Key Strategies


  • Intuitive wayfinding
  • Cell phone safety phenomenon
  • Visual cues in the workplace
  • Stair safety
  • Ramp versus stair
  • Universal access in spaces and reach
  • Doors are a common barrier
  • Multi-modes of communication
  • Promoting independence
  • Designing for everyone
  • Eliminate strong shadows 
  • Safety  

Hidden Assets


  • Shows you are inclusive, implementing best practices and living your values on the global stage
  • Promotes equality and independence
  • Promotes a differential for talent attraction and employee retention
  • Facilities become inclusive for all
  • Elevates safety while reducing slips and falls
  • Provides a platform and opportunities for partnerships
  • Builds a healthier community

Our Global Reach

  1. United States
    1. San Francisco, California
    2. Milsboro, Delaware
    3. Westin, Florida
    4. Chicago, Illinois
    5. Boston, Massachusetts
    6. Grand Rapids, Michigan
    7. Durham, North Carolina
    8. Kenilworth, New Jersey
    9. Syracuse, New York
    10. Lansdale, Pennsylvania
    11. West Point, Pennsylvania
    12. Rock Hill, South Carolina
    13. Elkton, Virginia
  2. Quito, Ecuador
  3. Ireland
    1. Ballydine, Ireland
    2. Brinny, Ireland
  4. Paris, France
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Munich, Germany
  7. Vienna, Austria
  8. Bucharest, Romania
  9. Helsinki, Finland
  10. Kolkata, India
  11. Tuas, Singapore
  12. Tokyo, Japan
  13. Bueno Aires, Argentina
  14. Mexico City, Mexico
  15. Bogota, Colombia
  16. Sao Paulo, Brazil

From the Disability Inclusion Blog:

The 7 Principles of Universal Design

Universal Design as a process guided by 7 principles that enable and empower a diverse population.

  1. “Diverse”
    Equitable Use: The design is useful to people with disabilities
  2. “Flexible”
    Flexibility: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities
  3. “Intuitive”
    Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, or language skills.
  4. “Perceptive”
    Perceptible information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient condition or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. “Minimal Hazard”
    Tolerance for error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. “Low Effort”
    Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with minimum fatigue.
  7. “Appropriate Space”
    Size and space: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

Our Team

Working with DIS, your Universal Design certification process will be guided by an experienced team.

Andrew Houghton, Project Manager

Mr. Houghton’s broad leadership and experience in the disability arena includes presidential and gubernatorial appointments and business consulting for Fortune 500 companies as well as nonprofit organizations. His accomplishments include the development of domestic and international programs that promote full inclusion for people with disabilities through sports and recreation.

Michael Perry, AIA

Mike Perry is a licensed architect, principal and executive vice president of Progressive AE . He also serves on the board of directors for the Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC) where he was a reviewer for the current Universal Design standards. Mike was the principal architect for the Mary Free Bed YMCA, which was the first project in the world to be certified by the GUDC in 2015.

His passion for Universal Design has resulted in a number of speaking engagements, as well as authorship of white papers and articles.

As the principal-in-charge for Progressive AE, he oversees compliance with Universal Design standards, training, and coordinates closely with project manager Andrew Houghton.

Jessica Griffis, Senior Interior Designer | NCIDQ | IIDA | CDT

Jessica Griffis, interior designer, has worked with corporations across the country on workplace environments. She is an expert in understanding and applying furniture product from an ergonomic and user ability perspective. She is actively involved in evaluating workplace functionality from a Universal Design perspective, training, and developing components of the recommendations document.

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