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Subliminal Universal Design

You're probably using Universal Design (UD) without knowing it, which is the way it should be because UD done well isn't noticeable, it's simply better, the preferred and convenient choice.

And of all places I saw during an NFL game a few weeks ago this Delta faucet commercial. (Notice they show kid's hands, not just elderly) Delta promotes their touch and motion activated faucets among their "Smart Solutions" kitchen and bath fixtures. All the major manufacturers now carry a universal line of fixtures, but there's a noticeable difference in the marketing, they don't utter the words "Universal Design" or "Aging-in-Place" (a phrase we can't stand because UD benefits are not only for the aging).

Given our specialty of building Lifetime Homes and our cause making home life easier, I immediately recognized the product as universally designed, but not once in their commercials do they mention specifically the universal functionality nor benefits for "aging-in-place" or overcoming inability/disability (although there is a brief glimpse in one spot of a kid with a cast). They merely SHOW easy use for anyone of any age or condition (messy hands). I love it!

When you walk through the automatic doors of a retail store, ever once thought to yourself, "Wow, that's great universal design"? No, you simply walk through without touching a door handle.

Proponents of UD for the home often become frustrated when consumers "don't get it", when they react ho-humly to "universally designed" features held dear because the benefits of no-step entries, wider doorways/hallways, curb-less showers are so evident to us.

But the important point isn't what it's called but bottom line how it performs. Also, UD for one person won't necessarily be the same for another. Who wouldn't prefer something better and personalized if they can plainly see and experience the benefits without a technical explanation? Who cares as long as it works as promised for THEM every time they use?

Universally designed products, features and applications are indisputably easier (simple/faster), efficient (conserving personal effort as well as energy usage), convenient (point of use), safer, comfortable and proactive (planned/designed with forethought). Consumers will demand these smarter alternatives once they see/experience that UD performs (and is affordable), not because of a technical name nobody can remember. The Delta commercials demonstrate effectively the advantages of their innovative technology over a traditional faucet.

As the saying goes, there's plenty more where that came from, residential housing design and construction is beginning a renaissance after the bust.  More people are seeking the flexibility and convenience of this thing technically known as Universal Design.

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