Universal Design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation of specialized design. The principles of UD contribute to the convenience and function of the products by making the product safer, easier to use and, in some cases, even more comfortable.
Universal Design can be a key component of home modifications for aging-in-place or residential accessibility clients. Clients wishing to improve accessibility in their home should hire contractors and vendors who have knowledge of UD and aging-in-place installations. For those clients with reservations about UD or aging-in-place modifications, it is important to remember that these home modifications can be completed in a way to enhance safety, home value and appeal, and home visitability.
A key component of UD is the market appeal of the home and the integration of UD features into the overall home scheme. UD done right becomes a virtually invisible element of a home. Although there is no single home design that fits all people, UD design principles applied to new home construction or existing home remodeling can improve the livability and visitability of most homes. Of course UD can also be used for a custom home design.
The 7 principles of Universal Design are:
Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Flexibility - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Simple and Intuitive - The design is easy to understand regardless of the user.
Perceptible Information - The design communicates information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or user sensory abilities.
Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and unintended consequences.
Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue.
Appropriate Size and Space for Approach and Use - The design has appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user.