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AODA - Design of Public Spaces


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted in 2005, with the overarching goal of making Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by the year 2025.

The Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces (DOPS) is part of the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which regulates the design of newly constructed or redeveloped public spaces to ensure they serve the needs of all users, including children, seniors, parents with strollers, and people with a wide variety of disabilities.


Elements covered by the DOPS Standard include exterior spaces such as sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways, parking lots, outdoor public use eating areas, beach access routes, recreational trails and playgrounds.


AODA Accessibility Standards Regulation regulates some building elements associated with providing public access to service, such as service counters, fixed queuing lines and seating in waiting areas, whether these elements are indoors or outdoors.


The Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces applies to public, private and not-for-profit organizations in Ontario with one or more employees. The organization that is responsible for complying with the Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces is the organization with the authority or permission to construct or redevelop the site. It may not necessarily be the owner of the land.

AODA - Design of Public Spaces

Universal Design - Defined

The Principles of Universal Design

The 8 Goals of Universal Design

Articles by Marnie Peters, President-Accessibility Simplified

Universal Design and Accessibility

Knowledge and Information

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Universal Design - Defined

"Universal Design, is the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.”

- Ron Mace, Founder and Program Director of The Center for Universal Design

UD Defined
UD Principles

The Principles of Universal Design

by Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story & Gregg Vanderheiden


PRINCIPLE ONE: Equitable Use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.


1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.

1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.

1c. Make provisions for privacy, security, and safety equally available to all users.

1d. Make the design appealing to all users.


PRINCIPLE TWO: Flexibility in Use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.


2a. Provide choice in methods of use.

2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.

2c. Facilitate the user’s accuracy and precision.

2d. Provide adaptability to the user’s pace.


PRINCIPLE THREE: 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.


3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.

3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.

3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.

3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.

3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.


PRINCIPLE FOUR: Perceptible Information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user,

regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.


4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of

essential information.

4b. Maximize “legibility” of essential information.

4c. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions

or directions).

4d. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with

sensory limitations.


PRINCIPLE FIVE: Tolerance for Error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or

unintended actions.


5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible;

hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.

5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.

5c. Provide fail safe features.

5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.


PRINCIPLE SIX: Low Physical Effort

The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of



6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.

6b. Use reasonable operating forces.

6c. Minimize repetitive actions.

6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.


PRINCIPLE SEVEN: 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.


7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.

7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.

7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.

7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.

8 Goals of UD

The 8 Goals of Universal Design


“Universal design is not just about technical details. It involves a process that starts with policy, moves on to project conception, is implemented through design process, realized in design and construction and continued through management and business practices. Above all, it must have benefits that will be valued by everyone. To advance adoption of universal design, we need to make those benefits broader and more understandable.”

“Putting more emphasis on social integration in the practice of universal design can help make its practice more relevant, … and recognizing the role of context and conceptualizing universal design as a process rather than a set of rules.”


Goal 1: Body Fit – Accommodating a wide a range of body sizes and abilities

Goal 2: Comfort – Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function

Goal 3: Awareness – Ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived

Goal 4: Understanding – Making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear and unambiguous

Goal 5: Wellness – Contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease and prevention of injury

Goal 6: Social Integration – Treating all groups with dignity and respect

Goal 7: Personalization – Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences

Goal 8: Cultural Appropriateness – Respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project


- Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDeA Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, State University of New York at Buffalo

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