Adapting ADA Architectural Design Knowledge to Product Design: Groundwork for a Function Based Approach Conference Paper uri icon


  • One in every seven Americans has some form of disability. The number of people with disabilities is expected to increase, perhaps significantly, over the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, persons with a disability remain underserved by consumer products. Product designers fail to design universal products primarily due to a lack of knowledge, tools, and experience with universal design. Though challenges to complete access remain, the design of universal architectural systems reflects a better codification of methods, guidelines, and knowledge than available to universal product design. This article reports research efforts to transfer elements of the design knowledge and tools from universal architectural design to universal product design. The research uses the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health to formally describe user function, the Functional Basis to describe product function, and actionfunction diagrams as an analytical framework to explore the interaction between user activity, limitation, and product realization. The comparison of the universal and typical architectural systems reveal relevant design differences in specific parametric realization, morphology, and function. Of these differences, parametric was the most common with functional the least common. The user activities that most frequently result in a design change are reaching followed by maintaining body position. The comparison of architectural systems to consumer products noted a common trend of a functional design change made in result to the user activity of transferring oneself.

name of conference

  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference

published proceedings

  • Volume 5: 22nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Special Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise

author list (cited authors)

  • Sangelkar, S., & McAdams, D. A.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Sangelkar, Shraddha||McAdams, Daniel A

publication date

  • January 2010