Universal design is the new way to live and it is catching on. We all want more comfort in our homes. Opening doors with arms full of groceries is as difficult at 30 years old as it is at 70 years old. People are living longer than they used to and more of us have disabilities. The traditional home that serves you well when you are healthy won’t always take care of you when you break a leg or hurt your back. People now realize they need homes that will grow old with them. That is where universal design comes in.
Following are some of the most common features of a universal design home:
Wide doorways—the new standard is from 32 to 36 inches wide, which will let a wheelchair pass through
Wide hallways—they should be 36 to 42 inches wide so everyone and everything moves more easily from room to room
Extra floor space—everyone feels less cramped and people in wheelchairs have more space to turn
Floors and bathtubs with non-slip surfaces
Thresholds that are flush with the floor make it easy for a wheelchair to get through a doorway
Good lighting helps people with poor vision
Lever door handles and rocker light switches are great for people with poor hand strength
AARP has a DVD of Michigan residents talking about their own homes with regard to universal design. On the DVD, homeowners, builders, occupational therapists, and design professionals explain the how and why of universal design.