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Posts Tagged ‘Universal Design’

ud freontAre you thinking of making some changes to your home to make it easier to live in as you age, but just don’t know where to start? Many changes associated with implementing Universal Design features are fairly minor, inexpensive, and require little effort (i.e., changing round door knobs to lever door handles). Other changes, however, are more significant, more expensive, and may require a professional contractor. For example, a colleague of mine shared a story about her sister converting a closet on the main floor into a bathroom with a walk in shower and a laundry room in her 100 year old home in order to be able to remain in her home due to a chronic illness. Regardless of the type of change your home requires, once you make a decision to make modifications to your home, the next two steps are to decide on the extent of change you will make and to identify specific ways in which to implement these changes.

DECIDING ON WHAT HOME MODIFICATIONS TO MAKE

Once you recognize that your home or the home of a loved one is in need of modifications, whether for safety concerns or to enable them to age in place, it is important to carefully consider both the personal abilities and limitations of the person who lives in this home as well as which features in the home require attention.

An “assessment” is a comprehensive review of an individual’s mobility, sensory, environmental, and financial condition. This type of tool can assist in identifying what areas need the most attention and what home modifications might improve someone’s quality of life or make their environment more accessible and comfortable.

An assessment conducted by a professional can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to conduct and usually involves a fee. Individuals can also conduct their own assessments using free downloadable worksheets from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) web site.

LOCATING HOME MODIFICATION OR ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT PRODUCTS

Because working with adaptive equipment and universal design features may not be an area of expertise for the contractor you hire, you may have to find some of the UD shoppingproducts yourself. When shopping for supplies and equipment, make sure to ask for Universal Design products. They may require placing a special order, so be certain to give yourself and your contractor time for delivery. If you can’t find what you want at your local retail store, you can also look online for Universal Design catalogs.

PLAN AND CARRY OUT THE INSTALLATION

  • When you have decided exactly what you want to do, and the size of the job required, assess your own or a family member’s skill to accomplish the job. If you have a modest income, you may be eligible for a home assessment/home modification program in your community or county.
  • Check with your local Area Office on Aging, senior center, independent living center, or Community Action Agency for information on home modification programs available in your community.
  • Contact your Local Community Development Department. Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to assist individuals in maintaining and upgrading their homes.
  • Ask local Lenders and Banks about loan options. Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM’s) that allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

Are there things that you can do to make your home more accessible? Remember to start by assessing your home, exploring your needs and developing a plan that will allow you to age in place.

SOURCES

Livable Lingo: Our Livability Glossary. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/tool-kits-resources/info-2015/planning-and-policies.html, July 16, 2018.

 

Written by: Kathy Goins, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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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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