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Universal Design – Where Everyone is Included!

People with traumatic brain injuries, ALS, MS, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s all have something in common. They all have the right to live in an environment that is designed to accommodate everyone. They should be able to enjoy safety, comfort and mobility. All individuals deserve to be free of hindrances and without fear of injury. The best way to accomplish this is through universal design.

In the world of universal design, convenience is a characteristic that meets all accessibility standards. This means the planning and building of physical environments are done in such a way that people of all ages, sizes, abilities and disabilities are able to benefit. Even though universal design is supporting use for those with disabilities, it truly benefits everyone!

There Are Seven Principles of Universal Design

#1 – Equitable Use The design must be advantageous for people of various abilities. This is truly the heartbeat of accessibility. When designing or building for all users is at the forefront of the mind, the interaction will be appealing for everyone.

#2 – Flexibility in Use This idea encourages a design that can be adaptable and customized. It’s all about choice! When people can select preferences, they enjoy a sense of freedom and independence. An example of this would be designing a door handle that is good for right or left-handed individuals with or without good gripping abilities or range of motion.

#3 – Simple and Intuitive Use This means the design can be used be everyone no matter the level of experience or current ability to concentrate. The idea is to reduce stress and not put people on overload. Following this principle will reduce complications and allow for intuitive use.

#4 – Perceptible Information This principle indicates that the design can be interpreted by all users even those with hearing or visual disabilities. There must be compatibility with the equipment that individuals use.

#5 – Tolerance for Error Here we see the need for the design to allow for an error friendly environment. Risks should be minimized, eliminating dangerous ramifications in the event of unintended actions. Fail safe features should be included where vigilance is not required by the user.

#6 – Low Physical Effort A universal design should be accommodating comfortable use without taxing the user by creating weakness or exhaustion. Repetitive actions and physical effort should be minimal.

#7 – Size and Space for Approach and Use This is important no matter the body size, posture or mobility of the individual. The size and space provided should accommodate all so their approach, reach and manipulation are not hindered. There should be a clear line of sight for all users whether standing or seated. Everyone should be able to reach the components no matter their size or ability to grip. Space should always allow for those using wheelchairs or other devices.

Universal design is the only way to go! It encourages us as a society to take into consideration all members of our communities. This type of design benefits those who choose to age in place and those with physical, mental or cognitive challenges. The seven principles are here to guide us in providing safe and easy access for all. So why not bring the experts in Universal Design to your home for an evaluation? It’s one call to one company. Go with Gamburd, they are the experts in Universal Design, making the world a more accessible place.