Universal Design Example

Ellen Morning Routine

As I read about universal design and visual literacy, I kept thinking about the chart my sister has hanging in her children’s bathroom that shows the steps of going to the bathroom – including removing pants and underwear before sitting on the toilet. I looked for this image online, but could not find one I liked. I was going to ask my sister to take a photo of the chart and send it to me, but then I remembered the morning routine chart I made for my niece while I was visiting over Christmas. My niece has sensory processing disorder (SPD) and one thing my sister learned from my niece’s occupational therapist is that she would benefit from routine charts (hence the bathroom chart). I made this chart because my niece needed a reminder to use the toilet first thing in the morning, rather than waiting several hours, and because if something is part of an established routine she doesn’t resist it – so she may now allow her hair to be brushed and styled. She will be starting school in September, so she needs these routines in place.

This design is universal because it is simple and the words relate to the pictures. The font is consistent and many of the pictures are self-explanatory. However, this chart is also personal; it would not apply to every child. For instance, my niece has chosen to sleep on the sofa in front of the fireplace rather than on her bed, so she needs to put her pillow and blankets away each morning.

I created this chart in Word, and I tried to use clipart available from Microsoft because I was in a hurry. If I were to revise this chart I would find images that have a similar style and all images would be in color, or all images would be line drawings. Having a more unified image style would limit distractions from the image differences. One aspect of the images I would maintain is their flexibility. I tried to choose generic pictures that would not be interpreted literally, because children with SPD can often be literal. I didn’t want my niece to think she had to eat a certain cereal, or wear pants instead of a skirt, just because the chart showed those items. This is a concept I would maintain if I revised the chart.

Another change I would make if I revised this chart would be to add numbers. It seems obvious to me that the steps should be followed from top to bottom, but adding numbers would make that unquestionable. I would also remove the line between the picture and the words to eliminate another distraction.


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