The term "universal design" is attributed to the architect Ronald Mace, and although its scope has always been broader, its focus has tended to be on the built environment. Those using the term often define it as design "for the whole population," with the notion being that a design should work for disabled and nondisabled people alike. And what idealistic follower of design’s evolution would balk at this humanitarian quest? The very term evokes the jet-setting glamour of the late 1950s: a global consultancy with its HQ on Madison Avenue, perhaps, sharing offices with the sharp-suited ad execs from Mad Men, of James Bond’s cover job with Universal Exports. Yet at the moment, the subject seems neither all that glamorous nor, well, universal.
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