You have most likely heard about Universal Design, we see this term used in a lot of different areas but you probably think it’s irrelevant to you… well maybe not. Here’s why.
What is Universal Design?
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design defines it as “the design and function of an environment which can be accessed, understood and used by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be created to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design.”
You can find Universal Design in different aspects of your life but today we’re going to concentrate on Universal Design in architecture and home design. As accessibility experts, Lifemark® is going to guide you and explain why we all need it… in more ways than we think.
Why do you need it?
Now you know the basis of Universal Design you may wonder why you would need it in your home. For that, you will need to think ahead, about your actual life, your future life and the people around you. At every moment of your life, Universal Design can make a difference.
You could experience disability
100% of people will experience some sort of disability at some stage of their life. It can be visual impairment, mobility restrictions, hearing loss …but also a temporary injury, a broken leg for example. How your home is designed will alter how easy it will be to live in your home.
Imagine that you broke your leg and now want to go home from hospital… would step free access into your home from the car or taxi, a toilet you can access without climbing stairs and a temporary place you can sleep make it easier for you with your crutches?
Being able to stay in your home as long as you WANT
We will all age and become less agile. We need homes that are easy and safe to live in. If you built it with Universal Design in mind (and your future), it can be completely different. You will be able to stay longer and avoid moving because of the limitations of your home design. You will be able to open your doors with the beautiful lever handles you’ve chosen, even with your arthritis. You will be able to plug anything you want in without hurting your back because your power points will be at the right height.
All your friends and family can visit you
Having a house built with Universal Design principles means you will be able to welcome everyone to your home, no matter who they are or what their mobility needs might be.
Universal Design can help you during every moment of your life without you even realising it. Here are a few examples:
▫ Your wide garage will make getting the kids, car seats and buggy in and out of the car easy and risk free – no paint scratches on the walls from opened car doors.
▫ You will be able to open any doors even if both of your hands are full, because of your easy to operate lever door handles.
▫ If your hands are dirty, you’ll still be able to use the lever tap without making a mess.
▫ Plugging in the vacuum cleaner won’t strain your back because the power socket is higher up the wall.
▫ You will access your kitchen utensils/crockery because none of the drawers will be too high or too low and you’ll be able to open every drawer with one little push of your hand/knee.
And much… much more! You will find everyday tasks easy to accomplish, and then you will ask yourself, why you didn’t think about it earlier.
It is fashionable
Oh, yes… we know. You think this is going to be ugly, and that your home will look like a hospital. Wrong, again. It’s a stereotype that causes lots of people to abandon the idea of Universal Design. You can, in fact, have a beautiful and modern house WITH accessibility features.
Photos speak a thousand words, so here are five examples:
It is free
Yes you read it correctly. IT IS FREE. It costs no more to include many Universal Design in your home. You just need to think about it and make these decisions early in the design stage of your project. Where there is a cost, consider this against the cost of an expensive renovation. It’s easier, better and cheaper to include Universal Design at the start.
What are you waiting for?
Universal Design is not hard to include, everyone benefits and you get a home that’s easier to live in for as long as you want. There is no reason not to do it really.
You just have to:
THINK ABOUT IT
TALK ABOUT IT
ASK FOR IT
& MAKE IT HAPPEN
Have a look and let’s talk about it!