Exploring Universal Design Principles within a PUDCAD Project

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Many people with physical disabilities in Turkey cannot continue with their education since the educational environment is not designed according to universal design principles. Although social consciousness about universal design and disability rights have been increasing, unfortunately designers still do not give required importance to this issue. Thus, interior design professors from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) started the PUDCAD (Practicing Universal Design Principles in Design Education through a CAD-Based Game) Erasmus Plus Project in order to raise awareness among the design students. This article will explore local student workshops conducted by the PUDCAD ITU team at two different high schools as a part of the project process. These two schools are considered to be good examples of inclusive schools in Turkey. Students first had to gain an empathic understanding of the people with special needs by experiencing the listed spaces and then they observed and analyzed these spaces to complete a checklist survey given by their tutors. The goal of these workshops was to understand how many of the universal design requirements are met by the high school buildings and how to improve their current situations.