Survey instrument for the universal design of consumer products.

Universal design is a process intended to include all user groups in product or environmental design. The objective of this study was to develop a usability testing survey instrument to inform how well consumer products complied with established principles of universal design. Thirty-six adults, aging adults and adult wheelchair users performed standardized tasks with pens, food storage containers, pliers and calculators, and for each task responded to a preliminary set of survey items and rated task difficulty. Factor analysis of the survey responses produced an eleven-factor solution that accounted for 67% of the variance in scores and corresponded fairly closely to the principles of universal design. Analysis of scale scores developed from each factor showed that some of the scales were sensitive to product feature and user group differences, and were negatively associated with perceived task difficulty. Such a tool may aid designers who intend their products for user groups of diverse abilities and preferences.