1.2 Guiding Terms

The CMHR acknowledges the fundamental role that the principle of universal design has played in decision-making regarding all aspects of the visitor experience, from the building’s design to exhibition development, education and programming, digital media, our website, and marketing and promotional materials.

The term “universal design” was devised by Ronald L. Mace (1941-98), a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Mace’s concept proposed that products and environments should be designed “to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. In other words, universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities.

“Universal design,” “accessible design” and “inclusive design” are often used interchangeably and may be considered synonyms. However, the CMHR has interpreted inclusive design to have a wider umbrella, embracing diversity in social and economic circumstances while encompassing the universal design ethos. For this reason, this guide uses the term “inclusive design” as a methodology to ensure the Museum meets or exceeds the changing field of accessibility standards.