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How noticeable is Universal Design?

Done right, it isn't. In other words, slapping a wooden ramp on the side of a house isn't technically Universal Design (more like an accident waiting to happen). You don't notice universally designed elements of a home until you're either enjoying or rely on them.

This project portfolio on Houzz represents a fine example of a few points I make regularly about Universal Design (UD). Now that more people are becoming aware of UD, traditional misconceptions come up that it is "ADA" or "will make my house look like a hospital". UD is for anyone, it's kid-friendly and, despite an obvious solution, not only for "aging-in-place" (A phrase we dislike). UD is a solution for enabling "aging" in one's home, or barrier-free living, but suited for anyone who prefers convenience and ease.

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Is your home Visitable or Livable?

What is it and why does it matter? Each has a technical definition related to property accessibility and each is important for personal well being. We are social creates who benefit from human interaction, your mental and emotional health (your sanity) depends on being around others, which you cannot if you or they cannot get around easily.

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What is Universal Design?

Easiest way to remember Universal Design is "UD = EZ for the most people". Commercially, Universal Design, abbreviated UD, has been around for decades (e.g. Velcro, electric toothbrush, automatic doors to retail stores) but North Carolina State's College of Design first introduced UD for the home in 1997.

I begin this series of posts about Universal Design for the home (also referred to as "barrier-free living") by defining as features, methods and applications easily used by any person of any age or ability. Think kid-friendly or flexible enough to be accomplished or enjoyed either seated or standing. For example, most people can get through a wide doorway or hallway, or enter a shower or doorway without a raised threshold. Most people can use motion-activated lights or a lever door handle.

If you remember ONLY ONE thing, recall UD = EZ for every aspect of a property both inside and outside.

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