Inclusion for all persons is only possible with environments that are free of physical, attitudinal and communication barriers. The key is to make the environment facilitate an equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of their abilities.
The concept of Universal Design, also known as "barrier free design", allows the physical environment, policies, practices, and procedures to conform to the needs of people rather than people, conforming to the restrictions of the environment.
For instance, a door which is heavy may be difficult or impossible to open for a person using a wheelchair, a person pushing a stroller or a person of small stature. These people are unable to get where they want to go - not because they have a disability - because the weight of the door is creating a barrier.
The NCODH is working to improve accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in North Carolina. Using the concepts of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Universal Design, NCODH has created publications, and offers technical assistance to help communities promote access. NCODH can provide on-site accessibility surveys and training on the ADA and Universal Design.