Universal Usability
A universal design approach to web usability

Access by Design cover
By Sarah Horton
2005 New Riders Press
Buy Access by Design at Amazon

The Universal Usability site houses an unabridged, online version of Access by Design: A Guide to Universal Usability for Web Designers, by Sarah Horton, published in 2005 by New Riders Press. You’ll find the complete text and illustrations from the printed book here under Access by Design Online. The online version also offers links to texts and tutorials that support and expand on the concepts covered in the book. Visit About the site to learn about the purpose and process of posting the book online.

What is universal usability?

Ben Shneiderman, a pioneer in the field of human-computer interaction, defines universal usability as “enabling all citizens to succeed using communication and information technology in their tasks.” Notice he does not say, “enabling all citizens to use”, but rather, “enabling all citizens to succeed”—quite a call to arms! Designers who practice universal usability strive for designs that gracefully accommodate a diversity of user needs and circumstances.

How does universal usability differ from accessibility?

Accessibility is concerned primarily with making the content and functionality of web sites accessible—within reach—to all users. Universal usability goes one step further, striving to make the content and functionality accessible and usable by all.

Where can I learn more about universal usability?

Access by Design Online offers guidelines for universal usability, along with examples and links to related articles and tutorials. Resources provides general information about universal usability resources and practitioners. If you have suggestions for the resource list or for Access by Design Online, please email me at sarah.horton@gmail.com.