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Scientific paper

Towards 3rd Generation Universal Design: Exploring Nonclusive Design


Publication date
1 January 2022
Per-Olof Hedvall | Margaret Price | Johnna Keller | Stina Ericsson
  • Swedish
  • 2022


Editorial information: IOS Press Ebooks  

In this paper, we identify and describe early signs of a shift towards 3rd generation UD, of which “nonclusive design” is an essential part. The paper explores the significance of such a shift using examples of the built and designed environment and of signage.

Nonclusive design means design that resists categorisations of bodies/roles and that does not come with predefined or presupposed limits in terms of who it is meant for.

We outline seven themes characterising the shift towards nonclusive design:

  1. from included to undefined users.
  2. from person to function.
  3. from adaptism to variation.
  4. from separation to convergence.
  5. from reactive to proactive.
  6. from unaware to aware.
  7. from explicit to tacit.

Nonclusive design directs attention to context instead of the individual, focusing on possibilities, functions and facilities. It has a convergent character, highlighting variation and unity rather than separation.

Nonclusive design presupposes awareness, knowledge and proactive development void of adaptism. It incorporates human variation without reiterating patterns of norm-deviation.

We argue that the continued growth of UD demands, is part of, and contributes to a shift in culture, with nonclusive, intersectional thinking as a key future driver. In such a culture, 3rd generation UD can contribute as a common guiding mindset, as a source for innovation, as a way to listen for diversity in all its forms, and as a way to lead towards a sustainable society.


25 OCTOBER 2023
Towards 3rd Generation Universal Design: Exploring Nonclusive Design