Universal Design – what is it?
28th June 2018
What is universal design?
The term “universal design” refers to designing environments and products to be used to the greatest extent possible by everyone, including people of all abilities and ages.
Universal design results in broad accessibility for all from the very beginning, compared to modifying features to suit individuals or to address a particular health situation. For example, in the case of home modifications.
How is universal design different to home modifications?
The majority of homes in Australia haven’t been built with universal design in mind. Until about ten years ago, universal design principles were not broadly understood or valued. Therefore, many properties have accessibility problems for people experiencing mobility difficulties due to age or health conditions.
Where universal design hasn’t been considered in the original build, some features of a home need to be adapted to make them more accessible. Home modifications, also known as “retrofitting”, are made with universal design in mind.
What are the benefits of universal design?
Incorporating accessibility features in the home during the initial build using universal design is the ideal scenario. The elements fit the style and physical space of the home and add to the appeal of the property for people at all stages of life. Universal design provides flexibility to add extra features such as lifts, ramps and handrails at a later date if needed.
Having a home which reflects universal design principles means the home is safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities to get around. A thoughtfully designed home helps a person live comfortably in their own home for longer.
What are some examples of universal design in the home?
There are a number of ways universal design can be incorporated into home layouts and features:
- Step-less entrances – no steps needed to get into the home – because we all need fewer trip hazards!
- Single storey – living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms are all located on one level.
- Wide doorways and hallways – for ease of movement throughout the house
- Accessible bathroom – bathrooms with adequate manoeuvring space
- Kitchens – accessible countertops, cabinets, sink and appliances – e.g. ergonomic height or more drawers for less bending and stretching into hard-to-reach cupboards.
- Lever handles on taps – easier for frail wrists or with messy hands.
Our home modifications draw on the principles of universal design to make your home safer and more comfortable. Contact us to find out how we can help you to experience the benefits of universal design in your home.
Our sources and some helpful links for further reading about Universal Design: