Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

On 10th June 2019, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, launched the Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings. These guidelines are an important step in making all Early Learning and Care services accessible to all children.  This publication offers guidance on the refurbishment, renovation and building of centres for Early Learning and Care in Ireland.

The work was undertaken by Early Childhood Ireland and Trinity Haus (Trinity College Dublin) on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority.

These guidelines set out the key Universal Design considerations and guidance for Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings in Ireland.  The guidelines apply to both new-build and retrofit projects and provide a flexible Universal Design framework to ensure that settings are accessible, understandable and easy to use for all children, staff, families and visitors.

The guidelines will be equally useful for small, medium and large settings and are flexible enough to apply to retrofit or minor work to existing settings, or to guide major redevelopments or new-build projects.  A literature review and self audit tool are also available to allow services to begin the process of assessing the improvements they may want to make.

The Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings can be accessed via the links below.

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings – Introduction

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings Section 1 – Site Location, Approach and Design

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings Section 2 – Entering and Moving about the Early Learning and Care Setting

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings Section 3 – Key Internal and External Spaces

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings Section 4 – Elements and Systems

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings – Self Audit Tool for ELC Settings

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings – Appendices, Case Studies and Design Brief

Universal Design Guidelines for ELC Settings – Literature Review