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AARP’s Universal Design Exhibit Has Universal Appeal

It’s a modern bathroom with all of the amenities one might expect. It boasts stylish, non-slip flooring; an easily accessible low-rise shower; chrome mirrors that tilt to the perfect height; and, of course, four steel-belted radial tires.

This bathroom is actually AARP Arkansas’ Universal Design traveling exhibit. The full-size bathroom remodel is housed inside an 18-foot enclosed trailer and is travelling across the state.

Recently, volunteers and staff unveiled the exhibit at a home show in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The group gave almost 300 tours to families, builders, remodelers, sub-contractors, realtors, mortgage bankers, and people living with physical disabilities.

The project is the result of a collaboration between AARP Arkansas; Arkansas Disability and Health Program at the Partners for Inclusive Communities – University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture; University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture; the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Arkansas Home Builders Association.

“We know for a fact that people want to stay at home as they age,” says Lou Tobian, Associate State Director for Community Outreach. “Universal Design allows them to do that. It’s a lot less expensive to use universal design as you build or renovate your home than to move to a long-term care facility.”

A recent AARP survey showed that nearly 90% of the 50+ population want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. Universal Design is an approach in building design and remodeling that can help make this happen. The creation of this physical model of Universal Design will help educate the general consumer as well as building/design professionals and increase demand for Universal Design principle in all construction.

Universal Design is about creating a home that is not only attractive and stylish but also more comfortable, convenient, safer and easier for everyone to use. When done well, Universal Design is a practically invisible part of a home’s design and features.

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