Universal Design for Play Guidelines are available that describe six design categories and the universal design principals embedded in each. Feature specifics of toys that relate to each section are offered to promote the design of better toys for all children.
When the UD framework is applied to toys, the design will refelct the abilities, needs and preferences of all children who may want to play with the toy. This design philosophy invites children with different abilities and interests to interact with the same toy.
Outstanding examples of UD are so seamlessly integrated into the product solution that they are rarely noticed for their common characteristics. Variety in design keeps children of all abilities engaged. The universal appeal is obvious, and the benefit for all children playing together and being challenged by the same experience is clear.
Applying UD concepts in the planning stage assures better use of the toy for most children and minimizes the need for accommodations. For example, a ball that vibrates and makes noise as it is rolled may be appropriate for children with a variety of disabilities including visual deficits, hearing loss, and cognitive delays. Adjustable features for sound, height and challenge level accomodate individual users.
However, UD may not completely eliminate the need for specific accommodations for children with significant disabilities. For example, textured materials may need to be added to the keys on a piano to further enhance the play experience for a child who is blind.
Identifying Toys with UD Features: