IDEA 101+102: Barriers & Their Social Meaning + Defining Universal Design



9.75 hours (LU | HSW)


These courses were formerly combined as a single course titled, “Defining Universal Design.” They were split into two courses and re-titled to better align with the chapter titles in the associated textbook, but are still being packaged together.

The first course introduces students to the origins and philosophy behind the concept of universal design. It explores the social meaning of barriers in architecture and describes universal design as one means to break down unnecessary barriers to social participation. Students will learn about the various types of barriers in the environment, social functions of space, and sociospatial order.

The second course introduces students to the definition of universal design and expands their understanding of its origins out of the disability rights movement, critiques of modernism, and a return to human-centered design. This course uses case studies and examples to examine the opportunities presented by universal design and looks to the present and future to imagine where universal design philosophy may lead.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of these courses, participants will be able to…

  1. Explain the concept and origins of universal design.
  2. Describe how barriers are used to negotiate social order, spatial order, and access to information.
  3. Identify common barriers in their everyday environments using concrete descriptors.
  4. Explain the difference between privacy and territoriality and give examples of each.
  5. Define universal design.
  6. List three specific desired outcomes of universal design.
  7. Criticize, compare, and contrast modernism with universal design using the concepts of usefulness and human-centered design.
  8. Discuss contemporary design issues that relate to universal design using examples to explain the relationships.


Students must create a account and purchase the course. The course is on-demand, available anytime!

To complete these courses, students must complete approximately 9.75 hours (LU | HSW) of work during a 1-year window of availability. There are no required sign-in times; however, there are established due dates designed to keep students working at a sufficient pace. Specifically, students must:

  1. Read the assigned portions of the textbook: Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments (sold separately in print and e-book format at Wiley and Amazon).
  2. Read additional assigned materials provided on the course website.
  3. View all videos in their entirety.
  4. Respond to at least 4 assignments on the discussion board, and respond to any instructor comments.
  5. Correctly answer at least 70% of the multiple-choice questions on each of two separate tests within the time limits specified for each test.

A certificate of completion will be provided on the course website following successful completion. Access certificates for expired courses anytime on the My Profile page.

For information regarding student responsibilities; grading policy; continuing education credits; computing system requirements; and policies on refunds, reasonable accommodations, accessibility, privacy, and terms of use, see our Policies and Terms of Use page.


Additional information

AIA Credit Type



Interactive (Scheduled)


5-15 Hours




Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments

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