Friday, August 5, 2011

UD: Universal Design, the Wave of the Future

Building or remodeling a house that ages with you is a smart way to go. Lifespan design or universal design (UD) is the design of product and environments that are usable by most people regardless of their age or abilities. Because UD is so desirable and accessible to all stages of development, it adds value to your home.

The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University illustrates some of the factors of this current and future plan:

1. Living spaces are useful and appealing to all. There is a no-step entry, a lever-handled front door, mirrors placed at medium height, no changes in floor heights.

2. UD allows for a variety of usages. A bedroom, full bathroom and laundry room should be located on the main floor and away from living areas. Use paddle-handled handles at the kitchen sink. Employ a small rolling cart in the kitchen for additional workspace. Install pull-out work boards at different heights. Pocket doors give privacy but not the akwardness of getting around a door.

3. Getting around the house should be intuitive. Use shower smart handles. Adjust shelving, install lazy Suzans and D-shaped drawer pulls.

4. Essential information is presented clearly. This means more keyless locks and universally designed appliance controls.

5. Avoid potential hazards by installing handrails on both sides of the staircase. No curbs on shower stalls. Use grab bars. No-slip and other tightly woven materials are preferred.

6. Very little physical force is necessary. Pull switches and controls are placed low for the wheelchair-ridden.

7. Put kitchen outlet and garbage disposal controls are preferred.

8. Purchase front-loading washers and dryers.

9. Raise or adjust toilet seats.

10. Use a molded seat in the shower stall.

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