The concept of Universal Design is used to create products and spaces that are accessible to people of all abilities and characteristics. If all spaces are built with the 7 Principles of Universal design, it would minimize the need for assistive devices, and make it more usable by everyone. Regardless of someone’s body size, posture or mobility, and Universal Design space works for everyone.
This concept is especially important when planning or designing forever homes. In your 20’s and 30’s you look for a home that is suitable for children. However, in your 40’s and up you want a house to spend the rest of your life in. Often, we don’t consider all of our changing needs as we get older. A Universal Design living space allows you to stay at home, no matter your future needs.
These are the 7 Principles of Universal Design:
No two people age the exact same, and no two people are “abled” in the same way. When something has a universal design, it allows for use by people with diverse abilities — even ones that change over time. For example, a walk in shower is used by young children as easily as someone who relies on assistive device for balance. A cabinet lift can make storage space usable for people of all heights.
Flexibility in Use
A home that has universally designed fixtures can accommodate you as you change and grow. A folding shower bench is available when you want or need to sit while bathing. Or fold it up when you don’t need or want the seat to take a shower.
Simple and Intuitive
Clear instructions and easily-executed usage is the name of the game here. This allows people with a variety of abilities to use the fixtures or space with ease.
Effective information communication involves utilizing each of the senses, so that the strongest one can receive the information. A television with close captions helps someone with hearing loss. A phone or computer with text to voice technology helps someone with poor eyesight.
Margin for Error
A universal design minimizes the adverse consequences of an error. Something as simple as an open concept or a level entry shower pan can help reduce the risk of injury due to difficulty with movement.
Low Physical Effort
Things like heavy doors and stairs can impede a person’s ability to get around their house if they cannot exert as much energy as they used to. Lever style door handles are easier for someone who doesn’t have good dexterity. A pressure balanced mixing valve with a lever handle is the easiest way to control the temperature of your shower.
Size and Space for approach and Use
Small spaces and high storage can be difficult to navigate as you or your loved ones age. A universal design plans slightly larger hallways, fewer stairs, and storage at eye-level or below to allow for the possibility of wheelchairs, walkers, and changing mobility. A porch lift creates easy access for anyone using a wheelchair or walker.
Making sure that your living space fulfills as many of these principles as possible will allow you to utilize the home for a wide variety of ages and stages. It will create a home that you can age through gracefully without having to worry about lack of accessibility, no matter what happens.
Typically, bathing is a huge concern for people as they age. Maintaining their privacy and autonomy in the bathroom as long as possible is an important priority. Contact us to find out the many ways we can help create a universal design in your bathroom.