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What Universal Design can mean for you.
What is Universal Design and how can it be incorporated into
your home? Read below to learn how this increasingly
popular design concept has become mainstream.
In This Issue
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would like to learn more about this subject.
How Universal Design is
What is Universal Design?
What is Universal
Universal design is a framework for the design
of places and products benefiting the widest
possible range of people in the widest range of
situations without the need for special or separate design.
When homes and products used in the home are designed with
everyone in mind, there is less need for expensive redesign and
renovation of the space and more equitable use of products in
With the increasing population of people with disabilities and an
aging population, the need for features that allow people to age
in place and have as much independence as possible in their
homes is growing. Universal design features aim at creating
more access, convenience, safety.
Universal design is also being applied to the design of
technology, instruction, services, and other products and
environments. Such examples include: curb cuts or sidewalk
ramps, color-contrast dish ware with steep sides that assist
those with visual or dexterity problems, cabinets with pull-out
shelves, kitchen counters at several heights to accommodate
different tasks and postures, and amidst many of the world's
public transit systems, low-floor buses that "kneel" (bring their
front end to ground level to eliminate gap) and/or are equipped
with ramps rather than on-board lifts.
According to the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina
State University, the principles of Universal Design are:
3M™ SafetyWalk™ SlipResistant Tub and
safety and comfort
in light traffic
barefoot areas. To
learn more click
Flexibility in use
Simple and intuitive
Tolerance for error
Low physical effort
Size and space for approach and use
For a list of selected Web sites where you will find information
on topics related to Universal Design, click here.
source: Universal Design Trends w ill Redefine Decorative Plumbing and Hardw are by
Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. and Wikipedia.org
How Universal Design is Incorporated in
There are plenty of opportunities for accidents in the bathroom;
in fact, the National
estimates that nearly
300,000 people are
injured in the bathroom
every year. Also
consider that according
to a pilot study
Strategies and Actions
for Independent Living
(SAIL), 58% of falls happen in the home of which 13% occur in
Universal design features can help make your bathroom a safer
and more functional place, whether it's a bathroom for one or a
community space that is used by children and parents. For
those with disabilities, Universal Design can create a bathroom
with ample room to maneuver while placing fixtures at
Can Universal Design be stylish?
Yes, according to Universal Design specialists Mary Jo
Peterson, author of Universal Kitchen and Bathroom Planning:
Design that Adapts to People. She explains that it is
important that style does not take a backseat to functionality
when it comes to incorporating Universal Design.
"One of the basics rules of universal design is if it doesn't look
good, it won't work," said Peterson, a certified kitchen and bath
designer and president of Mary Jo Peterson, Inc.-a firm that is
widely recognized for its work in Universal Design.
Today many major manufacturers have developed lines of
Universal Design products that can match the decor of most
bathrooms. "Many new Universal Design products look more
like luxury and comfort items instead of assisted design," says
Can you incorporate Universal Design without doing a full
Even if you are not redesigning your bathroom, you can
purchase certain safety products that will make the tub, shower
and toilet safer and easier to use for people of various ages.
Many of these products are easy to install and can be
purchased at affordable prices.
Below is a list of design and product suggestions for a home
bathroom that can increase safety, comfort, convenience, and
livability for everyone.
36-inch-wide door for easy access, or pocket door
Rocker-style light switches, 42 inches off the floor
Lever handle, anti-scald faucets on sink, bathtub, and
No threshold walk-in or roll-in shower with minimum
dimensions 5 feet by 3 feet (4 feet preferred)
Hand-held, adjustable-height showerhead with easily
Maneuvering space that accommodates a 60-inch turning
Toilet centered 18 inches from any side wall, tub, or
Toilet seat 17 to 19 inches off floor for older persons,
lower for children
Grab bars or wall-blocking for future installation in tub,
shower and near toilet
Knee space under sink for seated users
Easy-glide drawers that close automatically
Countertops with rounded edges
Bright, non-glare lighting
Reduced-slip tile or non-skid floor
source: ibaths.com, AARP.org
What about Falls and Universal Design?
As I think about Universal Design
and Fall Prevention I reflect back
upon the Universal Summit in St.
Louis that Bill and I attended last
year. The conference was
dedicated to expanding the
knowledge and application of UD
concepts to many disciplines. We
toured homes, senior living centers,
neighborhoods and urban parks all
designed with universal design
elements. Attendees included
architects, planners, designers,
clinicians and other disciplines all
interested in enhancing style and
functionality for comfortable, safe and independent living.
We saw how Universal design can seamlessly be incorporated
into all living space. It truly does make your house a warm and
welcoming home for you, your family and all those who
visit. Many of the basic concepts are synergistic with fall
No-step entry - enhances the ability to enter and exit the
home without stepping up or down, minimizing trip
hazards and making it easier for people limited mobility.
We toured homes where it was designed as a gently
sloping entranceway, beautifully landscaped and
Wide pathways - preferably 42 inches wide to allow for
greater ease of movement within the home. Open, noncluttered pathways minimize a risk for falls. This clear
open space can be both elegant and functional.
An open floor plan bathroom on the floor with the no-step
entry. Consider a 5 ft diameter open area (accommodate
a wheelchair, scooter or another person), a shower that's
easy to enter, anti-slip mats or strips in the tub and/or
shower and a chair to sit if you become tired or need it
Enhanced Lighting - Last month we talked about the
importance of lighting in fall prevention. Use of natural and
electric lighting - accessible and abundant is the key!
So when you think about fall prevention, it only makes sense to
think about Universal Design!
Fall Prevention Services goal is to help you begin to make fall
prevention a part of your everyday life. We help you identify
risks for falls through education, strength building and
assessments so that you can continue to live comfortably,
independently and safely in your home.
Fall Prevention Services provides advice to individuals,
families, architects, builders and remodelers for safe,
comfortable, independent living in your home or where you
chose to live. Our consultants are Certified Aging in Place
Specialists (CAPS), trained on the changing needs of
individuals as they live independently in their homes. For more
information about Fall Prevention Services visit
www.fallpreventionservices.com or call 515-991-3653.
Bill Kerrigan, CAPS
Betti Kerrigan, CAPS
Fall Prevention Services
This new sletter is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in
this new sletter is or should be considered or used as a substitute for medical
advice, diagnosis or treatment. This new sletter and its services do not constitute
the practice of medical, nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis
or treatment. Any reference to products in articles or the feature column is not an
endorsement of the product.
© 2010 Fall Prevention Services
Fall Prevention Services...Livability, Independence, and Fall Prevention Services