Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Does universal design education impact on the attitudes of architecture students towards people with disability?

Danielle Hitch, Kelsey Dell, Helen Larkin


The impact of the built environment on the participation and engagement of all people in the community is now widely recognized. The principles of universal design originated from the field of industrial design and architecture, as a design foundation for more useable products and environments. The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes of architecture students towards people with a disability, comparing those who received inter-professional universal design education with those who had not. A sample of 147 Australian undergraduate architecture students (response rate 39.7%) completed the Interaction with Disabled Persons Scale (IDP). Quantitative descriptive analysis of their scores was undertaken, along with inductive analysis (Mann-Whitney U tests and ANCOVA). Architecture students who had previously participated in inter-professional universal design education had significantly less negative attitudes on two items of the IDP – ‘I wonder how I would feel if I had this disability’ and ‘I am grateful that I do not have such a burden’. They also expressed significantly less fear towards people with a disability, as measured by that factor on the IDP. This study suggests education around universal design may promote more positive attitudes towards people with a disability for architecture students, but further research is required to gain a comprehensive understanding of this topic. This study also raises the issue of the need for the development of more contemporary attitudinal scales in relation to disability and impairment.

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