February 24, 2018

Destination or Journey?


One day, there will be the ultimate universal design handbook. It will have well conceived answers to every design quandary, each achieved cost effectively and with elegance.

No. That would be as if universal design was a destination, a place we arrive at where solutions were the intention of its creation. This notion that a checklist can be created pervades the present consciousness of legislators and building inspectors alike. We will have measures by which we can recognize the effectiveness of our solutions, however, what brings us closer is when universal design is understood as a journey.

Universal design gives a place from which to look. It is our starting point and it is our compass. As we travel, we find that we have come further and that there is more to go. But to imagine that we arrive is to fall back to a notion that it could become a set of solutions, and that we must conform to them. That would assure that universal design could never be more than a trend, never more than a set of laws that some day gets trashed as disappointment by a future generation.

Universal design is a crackle of possibility seeking expression. It is an opportunity of liberation. It is a willingness to get a lesson thus far not learned. It is a letting go of old thought.

The promise of universal design is inclusiveness. As such, it represents a shift in consciousness more than a recipe. It represents a shift away from a thinking that is rooted in fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. It moves from scarcity to abundance; from stingy to generous; from me to us, from excluded to included. Universal design is an expression of compassion, and, compassion gives us true peace.