Universal Design Standards

Review Design Standards General Statements before utilizing this web page.

Government Directives & Government Standards
National Park Service (NPS) Requirements
Professional Guidance


For required standards for the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and 1973 Rehabilitation Act, see the Accessibility definition. See also the Universal Design definition.


  • The Rehabilitation Act - The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensures access to programs and activities that are federally funded. It also protects the rights of Federal employees with disabilities. Federal agencies are responsible for enforcing requirements as they apply to their own programs, services, and employment practices. The law also requires electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies to be accessible according to standards issued by the Access Board.


Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Government Directives & Government Standards




National Park Service (NPS) Requirements

Management Policies

Management Policies 2006 - The Guide to Managing the National Park System

Director's Orders (DOs)

Denver Service Center (DSC) Requirements

All DSC projects shall incorporate the 7 principles of universal design throughout the design process to provide a facility that is useable by all:

The 7 Principles of Universal Design

  1. Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
    • Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
    • Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
    • Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
    • Make the design appealing to all users.
  2. Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
    • Provide choice in methods of use.
    • Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
    • Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
    • Provide adaptability to the user's pace.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
    • Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
    • Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
    • Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
    • Arrange information consistent with its importance.
    • Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
  4. Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
    • Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
    • Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
    • Maximize "legibility" of essential information
    • Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
    • Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.
  5. Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
    • Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
    • Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
    • Provide fail safe features.
    • Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.
  6. Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
    • Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
    • Use reasonable operating forces.
    • Minimize repetitive actions.
    • Minimize sustained physical effort.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture or mobility.
    • Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
    • Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
    • Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
    • Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.

Specific Universal Design requirements for all projects:

Harper's Ferry Center (HFC) Programmatic Accessibility Requirements
These guidelines are required to be followed for interpretive media and exhibits included in DSC projects.

Professional Guidance


Center for Universal Design Technical Guidance

Universal Design Research


Last updated: December 27, 2016