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Universal Design (UD) unites occupational therapy, design, production, and building professionals to create products and environments that accommodate human functional diversity and changes that occur secondary to illness, injury and aging and enhance quality of life for people of all ages and abilities by improving safety, ergonomics and work efficiency.

©Susan Mack

Master Shower
©Homes for Easy Living

Universal Design is "preventive architecture"

UD is a proactive approach that enhances safety by removing unnecessary hazards. Falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 65. The direct medical costs for fall related injuries in people over the age of 65 in the USA in 1994 were $20.2 billion. The cost is projected to be $32.4 billion by the year 2020. This does not even address the severe pain and suffering resulting from fall related injuries. Approximately half of the people who are hospitalized for fall related injuries do not return to independent living. No-step walkways, entries and showers reduce the risk of trip/fall injuries. Grab bars and slip resistant flooring reduce the risk of slip/fall injuries for people of all ages. Many other safety features are incorporated into Universal homes to enhance safety and extend health and well being.

Pushing double stroller through doorway
©Homes for Easy Living

Universal Design is "ergonomic design"

Universal Design enhances comfort by incorporating the ergonomic principles of joint and back protection to reduce repetitive stress. Man invented "simple machines" to reduce the burden of work on man’s body. Creating wheel-friendly environments allows all of us to utilize wheeled devices such as roll-on luggage, baby strollers, furniture dollies, grocery carts, walkers and wheelchairs. Lever handles on faucets and doors makes it easier to turn handles when carrying heavy items and reduces the stress to our hands and wrists. As the average life expectancy increases and we are putting more miles on our bodies, we need to protect our bodies from unnecessary repetitive stress at home as well as at work.
Sitting at Kitchen Sink
©Homes for Easy Living

Universal Design is "work efficient design"

Universal design enhances convenience by incorporating the principles of work simplification. In this day and age, we are all looking for ways to make our lives easier. UD creates work efficient products, work environments and homes to reduce the time and personal energy required to perform our daily tasks which allows us to participate in other creative and productive activities. This is particularly important for people with chronic health conditions that reduce their energy and stamina.

Wheelchair at Sink
©Homes for Easy Living

Universal Design is "inclusive design"

Accessible universal homes welcome people of all ages and abilities. No one is excluded from family gatherings because of unnecessary barriers and hazards. Twenty percent of our population has some form of disability. Accessibility in UD homes expands marketability of homes. Well done UD is not apparent so UD homes are attractive as well as inclusive. UD homes support reintegration of our disabled veterans into our communities. UD homes throughout our communities allow children with Developmental Disabilities to grow up in well integrated and supportive neighborhoods. UD incorporates the "best practices" in accessible design not just minimal code compliance. UD accommodates the tall as well as the small or seated individual. UD takes into consideration how people vary in vision, hearing, strength, size, stamina, coordination, fragility, mobility, flexibility, and use of medical, mobility or adaptive devices. Incorporation of environmentally friendly "Green Design/Sustainable Design" with Universal Design principles enhances healthy living by reducing unhealthy environmental factors.

Stepless Porch
©Homes for Easy Living

Universal Design is "TRANSGENERATIONAL DESIGN", "multi-generational design", "lifespan design", "human sustainable design"

The depression era seniors of today have had to make-do under difficult circumstances imposed by the Depression and World War II. They have tolerated the barriers and hazards in their homes until a health crisis has required them to make some alterations / home modifications or had to move to an assisted living facility or higher level of care institution. As their parents attempt to "Age in Place", the Baby Boomers are experiencing the difficulties imposed by unnecessary barriers and hazards in the traditionally designed homes of their parents. The Baby Boomers will not tolerate such short-sighted design when shopping for their future homes. They will expect and demand that their homes will enhance health and enable them to stay in their homes indefinitely without being forced into premature institutional living secondary to inadequate design.

Universal homes accommodate the grandchildren as well as the grandparents and support our "Freedom of Choice to Age in Place". UD accommodates changes over the lifetime due to aging, injuries, low vision, breathing difficulties, heart conditions, arthritis, and other chronic health conditions. UD facilitates social participation and supports the sustainability of the individual as well as the community.

We ALL benefit from Universal Design!

Why would anyone buy a home fraught with unnecessary hazards and barriers?! Incorporating the principles of UD is most cost efficient and effective when done at the beginning of the design process of a new home; however, incorporating UD when planning a major remodeling project can be beneficial as well. UD meets the needs of the present and the future; don't settle for anything less.

Universal Design - The Art of Human Centered Design

Preventive Design Ergonomic Design Work Efficiency Design Inclusive Design Life Span Design Transgenerational
"Aging in Place"
Reduces Accidental Injuries Reduces Stress to Eyes, Back and Joints Reduces Energy Expenditures During Daily Tasks Accommodates Diversity in Human Abilities Accommodates Continuum of Changing Abilities During Lifetime
Promotes Health, & Well Being
SD Prin #1
Increases Comfort & Convenience
SD Prin #1 & 2
Enhances Performance Wheel, Lever, Pulley
SD Prin #1 & 2
Welcomes ALL Friends & Family
SD Prin #4 & 6
Extends Indep Active Lifestyle & Freedom of Choice
SD # 1,2,3,4,6,7

Value Added Design


©2004 Homes for Easy Living