Universal Design vs. Accessibility and Barrier-free Design
The terms accessibility and barrier-free design are commonly, yet inappropriately, used interchangeably.
Accessibility refers to the degree to which the environment, products, and services are accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility is not Universal Design as it is not intended to accommodate everyone. It is important to note here that accessible design and Universal Design are not interchangeable terms.
The term barrier-free design was first used in the 1950's to describe the effort of removing physical barriers from the "built environment" for people with disabilities. Barrier-free design addresses the issue of access. The standards in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), address the issues of barrier-free design as it focuses on disability and accommodating people with disabilities in the physical environment.
Barrier-free design is not Universal Design because barrier-free design solely focuses on providing access to individuals with disabilities.