Sharing vision - Bringing Empowerment

Discussing some issues relate to developing and refining incentive policies for “universal design” in Vietnam at the present

  • Perform: Le Hoa (Translator: Nguyen Quang Minh)
  • 22/12/2022

“Universal design” is a term used in Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which intents to refer to products, services,… that have multi-purpose functions for meeting usage needs of all people, includes the. In practical, in Vietnam until recently, the concept “universal design” is still considered new. Products following the universal design model is relatively few in numbers, especially under the policy perspective. The issue of “universal design” hasn’t been outlined in the Laws of Persons with Disabilities 2010 or any legal document in legislative level. This should be seen as one of the issues to be pinned in the process of regining legislation policies correlated to people with disabilities in our nation [1].

Some highlights about “Universal design” according to CRPD and global trends about applying universal design model in product design, services… for the community

The spirit of CRPD is stimulating all nations to promote the parallel use of products, services, programs,… which everyone can use, include people with disabilities; and other products, specialized handicapped - assistive equipment. In Clause 2 of CRPD had defined “universal design” meant design of product, environment, program and service (hereinafter referred to as product) in order to let everyone optimize to the maximum capacity without renovation or specialized design. “Universal design” doesn’t exlude assistive devices for particular disabled groups when necessary. Spetacularly, the conduction or encouragement to research and develop universally-designed  products, services, equipment and facilities is identified as the duty of every nation joining CRPD. Following that, every participant nations should contribute to the popularize and application of mentioned products, at a reasonable cost and with minimal modifications so as to respond the need of people with disabilities (Point f Article 1 Clause 4 CRPD)

Nowadays, besides specialized products, equipment for people with disabilities, the global common trend is heading to develop design researching, manufacturing and implementing many types of product ot service which are universally designed, consisted of some features, programs,… are designed to combine the demand satisfaction of both non-disabled (elderly) and disabled people; such as toys, children devices, kitchen device systems [2] traffic means,…Noteworthy are products, services in the field of information – communication (software for visual impaired people on public computers; telecommunication devices for hear impaired people can integrate features of phone with captions – a system that use voice recognition to transfer the voice of hotline operators to documents, etc…). According to experts, the research on demand of people with disabilities will conclusively lead to safer, more flexible and appealing design for all consumers [3].

The practical situation of policies related to “Universal design” and the current usage of products following the universal design trend in Vietnam

In the policy perspective, the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010 has just concentrated on policies encouraging agencies, organizations, individuals in research, manufacture products, equipment personalized for people with disabilities. This is clearly demonstrate on general policies cited at Clause 6 on socialization of disability support work, as well as specific policies in various fields such as healthcare (Clause 26), information technology and communication (Clause 43)… . In terms of content and purposse, these policies are entirely appropriate, particuarly at the time when the Law on Persons with Disabilities was enacted, aim to create a legal framework to positively assist people with disabilities to live independnent, integrate into society and ensure the rights of people with disabilities in different aspects of social life. Though, from an analysis of the policy perspective in Vietnam, until now (2022), aside the State’s policy viewpoint on supporting policies; specialized products to disabled people, promotion policies, support to products belong to the model “universal design” are completely not mentioned in the Law on Persons with Disabilities 2010 or any other legistaltion documents in legal level. This can be witnessed as a “foreign” point in the system relates to the handicapped in our nation. However, objectively speaking, this doesn’t mean that the movement in designing products, services, programs complying with specifications is a foreign, out of the current policy scope to people with disabilities in Vietnam nowadays. This viewpoint has been partially reflected in the field transportation policy for people with disabilities, stipulated at Decision 1190/QD – TTg of the Prime Minister on 5th August 2020, signed off on the Program of Assisting Persons with Disabilities from 2021 to 2030. It is acknowledges as a “bright spot” in today’s disability policy and lay a foundation for developing higher-level legal policies [4]

In fact, in recent years many technological goods are widely distributed in Vietnam such as computer, phone,… that are designed under the universal model. Thereafter, a part of disabled people in Vietnam, especially hearing loss; visual loss people can use these goods. Specificially, people with hearing loss are capable of using one among many apps of Android named Google Live Transcribe – Simultaneous transcribe when using phone. This application helps recording the voice of others and transform it into actions on screen or into documents, so the hearing loss people can watch, read and understand [5]. About visual impaired people in Vietnam, they can use the NVDA program (Non Visual Desktop Access). This is a free screen reader exclusively for people with visual and hearing impaired, let them access; interact with the Windows system and many other third-party applications (integrated more than 50 languages, provide many voices of the third party and most of the basic softwares,...). On the other hand, many cellphone brands also have the TalkBack reading as a default mode for visual loss individuals [6]. Noticeably, many electronic devices distributed in Vientam are mostly foreign – imported and focused solely on technological aspects. Meanwhile, the universally designed products are very diverse, if can be researched and implemented in production. When that scenario happens, not only technological objects but also other domestic production (even the simplest) could be designed under the universal design, serving various needs required by consumers; especially the handicapped customers. Nevertheless, in fact, according to our gathered information, there are also many domestic household appliances designed based on this model in limited numbers and not commercially popularized [7]. Many reasons attributed to this problem until now (such as issues about dissemination of information, capital investment issues, regulations in research and design (RnD), produce and consume products in different sectors, etc…). Among many reasons, the “lack” of acknowledgement in policy and perspective encouraging products based on universal design is deemed as a significant reason. The shortage in recognition and production development policies for universal design goods in our country, on one hand, remains incompatible with provisions of CRPD (in which Vietnam had signed and became a member in 2007). Conversely, activities – services for multi-purposes usage of society, particularly the people with disabilities, are yet being ignored from encouragement; under the context of developing Vietnam into a modern economy – society in current time as well as in the future.

Some recommendations

Relating to issues of perfecting the legal policy for the development of universal design products in Vietnam, we have some following recommendations:

First, the new Law Proposal of Persons with Disabilities should clearly stipulates definition of “universal design”, supplement the affirmative on State’s perspective of promoting parallel activities: research and manufacture personalized products, services for people with disabilities – along with policies to stimulate those activities for the universal design program

Secondly, to support the development of domestic products, services following the universal design model, the policies of the new Law should focus on working and employment aspect. Therefore, not only businesses that employ a large number of handicapped workers but also organizations and businesses researching and producing universally – designed domestic prodicts should receive certain preferential policies. Because of that, policies related to Chapter V, Chapter VII,…of the Law on Persons with Disabilities in 2010 need to be amended, such as policies that encourage businesses to research, supply the services according to universal accessibility criterias; development policies for researching and implementing the transportation system based on universal accessibility standards;… In addition, it is necessary to have more researches to amend and supplement the above-mentioned encouraging policies into relevant Laws such as the Corporate Income Law, the Road Traffic Law,…

Obviously, the implementation of products following the universal design model requires a comprehensive solution, from improving social awareness to solutions to assist the whole researching – designing – experimenting – manufacturing – commercial advertising process, etc… Thus, the deployment roadmap across various fields, for different products is a mandatory requirement. In order to ensure the practicability, other incentives of the State with activities following the model “universal design”, which is stipulated in the Draft of the New Law on Persons with Disabilities and relevant laws, should require careful consideration to suit with the practical conditions in Vietnam

Additionally, along side with perfecting the policies, the comprehensive propaganda activity about universal design model in different sectors are also in need of awareness and implementation in the next time. This is a significant solution to assist in updating information and positively contributing to society awareness to functions of universally designed products in social life.

In summary, it is believed that while the policies promoting research and development of specialized equipment and services for people with disabilities; it is urgent to supplement the Draft of the new Law on Persons with Disabilities (and other relevant laws) with legal policies that are directive, open up opportunities, and provide a basis for encouraging research, production, and deployment of products and services based on universal design principles, to meet the needs of everyone in society, especially people with disabilities. The policy of promoting universal design will further enhance the compatibility of the domestic legal system with the provisions of the CRPD, while positively contributing to the process of improving the quality of life for people with disabilities; creating conditions for their equal inclusion in social activities, building an environment without barriers to ensure their legitimate rights, and supporting them in cultivating their abilities [8]. Aside that, developing products based on universal design principles will contribute to creating diversity, flexibility, convenience, and attractiveness in products and services,… ultimately making a positive contribution to socio-economic development.

[1] Problem of “universal design” has comprehensive meaning and refers to many aspects such as: Development policy, research and develop activity, the economic value aspects of the product – service,… . In the scope of this article, the auhor only concentrate on the problems of “universal design” under the policy aspects, under the spirit of CRPD

[2] An example is a brand in German has developed a “flexible kitchen platform” which includes electrical monitor system to assist the kitchen cabinet, kitchenware and even sink to meet the demand of users. With just one touch, the table platform of the kitchen can goes up or down lower than the height of wheelchair (read:  Heidi Schrott, Editorial Team of WIPO Magazine, Media and Communication department, “Design for the handicapped”,, updated on 25/04/2020)

[3] Heidi Schrott, Editorial Team of WIPO Magazine, Media and Communication department, “Design for the handicapped”,, updated on 25/04/2020)

[4] Point A Article 6, Chapter II of Decision 1190/QD – TTg has stipulated one of the activities of Assistance program for Persons with Disabilities 2021 – 2030 in the field Assisting in approach and participate in transportation is: Research, construct and enact the criterias for universal accessibility to traffic system



[7] Such as the multipurpose mop designed by members of some Persons with Disabilities groups. This product can both be used by locomotor disability people (hand) and non-disabled people

[8] All these contents belong to Common objectives that has been stipulated in the Assistance program for Persons with Disabilities 2021 – 2030, issued with the Decision 1190/QĐ-TTg on August 5th, 2020 by the Prime Minister