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Posts Tagged ‘Universal Design’

Does your home fit you? It is the pivotal question asked when takitchenlking about the concept of Universal Design. So what is Universal Design? It is a worldwide movement based on the idea that all environments and products should be usable by all people, regardless of their ages, sizes, or abilities. Because this movement applies to everyone, the concept of Universal Design is known around the world as “design for all,” “inclusive design,” and “life-span design.”

An important component of Universal Design is the maintenance of aesthetics. In other words, to create something that is still “visually pleasing” to others despite being accessible to everyone. Function does NOT have to sacrifice beauty. As a result, universally designed homes and public buildings can be just as beautiful and welcoming as any other design approach. Increasingly, experts are referring to the concept of Universal Design as the “wave of the future.” It is the hope of Universal Design advocates that eventually all buildings, homes, and products will be designed to meet the needs of everyone.

WHY HOME MODIFICATION?

Whether you are building a new home, or repairing or renovating an existing home, you too can incorporate characteristics of Universal Design through home modification. These modifications can vary from building a new home with universally designed features, to simple installation of lever door knobs on an older home, to more complex structural changes in an existing home, such as installing a walk-in shower or an accessible ramp. The goal of home modification for existing homes is not to entirely redesign the home but to make a range of changes or repairs that result in your home being a comfortable, user-friendly, and safer place to live.

bathroomImplementing Universal Design home modifications can result in a home that you can remain in as you age. This concept is often referred to as “aging in place.” The idea behind “aging in place” is to enable individuals to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. The goal is to avoid having to relocate simply because one’s home is too difficult to get around in.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN?

A group of Universal Design advocates from the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University have developed seven principles of Universal Design. These principles can be applied to evaluate existing environments or products, serve as guidelines in the development or renovation of existing environments, and serve to educate consumers and professionals wanting to understand the characteristics of this design approach.

Principle 1: Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions of the user’s sensory abilities.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

The American Association of Retired Persons provides a Home Fit Quiz which gives suggestions on home modifications that can make your home safe and comfortable for years to come

Remember, a home that has universal design features is a home that fits everyone’s needs whether they are young or old, short or tall, with physical limitations or without.

Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educatore, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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Have you ever had difficulty getting in and out of your shower, turning on a faucet, reading the print on appliance controls, opening a door when you are carrying a bag of groceries, or reaching something on the top shelf of your pantry? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, perhaps you need to incorporate universal design features into your home. Universal design is a worldwide movement that is based on the idea that all environments and products should be usable by all people, regardless of their ages, sizes, or abilities. Universal design has also been referred to as “design for all,” “inclusive design,” and “life-span design.”

Universal design features can be incorporated into home modification if you are building a new home or repairing or renovating an existing home. Modifications can vary from larger projects such as installing a walk-in shower to smaller projects such as installing lever door knobs. In any case, the goal of universal design is not to entirely redesign your home but to make a range of changes or repairs that result in your home being a comfortable, user-friendly, and safer place to live.

The Ohio State University Factsheet entitled “Elements of Universal Design/ Home Modification” provides a list of challenges that individuals encounter and possible universal design solutions. Some examples include:

Limited Lifting or Flexibility

  • Install easy to turn lever or automatic (touch) faucets
  • Choose u-shaped drawer handles for cabinets and drawers that are easier to grasp
  • Consider decorative grab bars in the shower or by the toilet and tub to increase safety.
  • Replace standard light switches with rocker switches that are easier to use.

Limited Mobility

  • Install a bath/shower seat or tub with a transfer bench to ease getting in and out of the bath.
  • Use transition wedges at door thresholds to avoid tripping.
  • Give sidewalks and driveways a textured surface to increase traction and stability.
  • Use handrails on both sides of stairways.

Limited Vision

  • Purchase appliances with large print controls.
  • Install lighting near outside of walkways, stairs, and entrances.
  • Use nightlights where appropriate.
  • Install under the cabinet lights or task lighting, over kitchen counter work areas.

As you and your family change, so should your home. Keep in mind that a home with universal design feature accommodates everyone’s needs, whether they are young or old, short or tall, with physical limitations or without.

Adapted from OSU Extension Publication SS-190-02 found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0190.html

Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, O.S.U. Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, MS, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, O.S.U. Extension Wood County

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