Design for All (DfA) is a design philosophy targeting the use of products, services and systems by as many people as possible without the need for adaptation. Design for All is design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality (EIDD Stockholm Declaration, 2004).
According to the European Commission, it "encourages manufacturers and service providers to produce new technologies for everyone: technologies that are suitable for the elderly and people with disabilities, as much as the teenage techno wizard."
Closely related to the concepts of Inclusive Design or Universal Design, the origin of Design for All lies in the field of barrier free accessibility for people with disabilities, where it has been recognised that this provides benefits to a much larger population.
Design for All has been highlighted in Europe by the European Commission in seeking a more user-friendly society in Europe. Design for All is about ensuring that environments, products, services and interfaces work for people of all ages and abilities in different situations and under various circumstances.
Design for All has become a mainstream issue because of the ageing of the population and its increasingly multiethnic composition. It follows a market approach and can reach out to a broader market. Easy-to-use, accessible, affordable products and services improve the quality of life of all citizens. Design for All permits access to the built environment, access to services and user-friendly products which are not just a quality factor but a necessity for many ageing or disabled persons. Including Design for All early in the design process is more cost-effective than making alterations after solutions are already in the market. This is best achieved by identifying and involving users ("stakeholders") in the decision-making processes that lead to drawing up the design brief and educating public and private sector decision-makers about the benefits to be gained from making coherent use of Design (for All) in a wide range of socio-economic situations.
The following examples of Designs for All were presented in the book Diseños para Todos/Designs for All published in 2008 by Optimastudio with the support of Spain's Ministry of Education, Social Affairs and Sports (IMSERSO) and CEAPAT:
Design for All criteria are aimed at ensuring that everyone can participate in the Information Society. The European Union refers to this under the terms eInclusion and eAccessibility. A three-way approach is proposed: goods which can be accessed by nearly all potential users without modification or, failing that, products being easy to adapt according to different needs, or using standardised interfaces that can be accessed simply by using assistive technology. To this end, manufacturers and service providers, especially, but not exclusively, in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), produce new technologies, products, services and applications for everyone.
In Europe, people have joined in networks to promote and develop Design for All: