The terms “accessibility” and “universal design” are often used interchangeably. However, they do differ in terms of scope.
Where accessible design focuses on the needs of people who are differently abled, universal design is focused on all people’s needs.
Universal design describes a set of considerations made to ensure that a product, service, and/or environment is usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.
If a wheelchair lift is an example of accessible design, an elevator, which is usable by those with wheelchairs, parents with small children, people moving large furniture, or just tired adults, is an example of universal design.