Universal Design – What is it?
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 or specialized design. You might think of it as Better Living Design.
It does not mean every home should have a wheelchair ramp. It does mean that a home can be built to be more usable for as many people as possible. Descriptive terms for a home designed with UD in mind might include the following: inviting, comfortable, convenient, and ease of use.
For example, zero-threshold showers have become very popular, and such showers add to the spa-like feeling of a luxurious bathroom. It is just convenient that they also work great for persons in a wheelchair, too.
Opening up a room by removing a wall adds a spacious feeling of luxury, and homeowners have capitalized on this trend, frequently having a wall removed to open up a master bath or kitchen. This type of design fits right in with UD, making a home more comfortable for all.
Other conveniences include varied-height countertops and zero-threshold entries. When I was very young, my dad built our house with a pull-out drawer under the bathroom sink; the drawer had wheels and a sturdy lid so my brothers and myself could use it fora stool to reach the faucet, and mom stored toilet paper and towels in it.
This sort of innovation and thoughtfulness is now part of what we call Universal Design.