Universal Design

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Universal Design (UD),  also called barrier-free design, focuses on making an area safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, or stature. Most of us think immediately of ramps and grab bars when we think of accessible housing, but universal design goes far beyond that while remaining largely invisible to the casual observer. In fact, applying universal design concepts such as wider doors and hallways makes a house feel more spacious.

• The elegance of Universal design is that it’s invisible and
non-stigmatizing. The design is so intuitive the 
experience is often effortless.  Next time you walk through an automatic
​door, think “the universal design effect.”


• Much of the built environment is created with challenges
to users regardless of ability — the “handicap” often comes
from dealing with it.


• Universal design is about access and inclusion as well as
an added margin of safety. This is why universal and
aging-in-place design is so closely matched. The stigma is
no longer 
“hospital-like”, as  grab bars and bath seats
now taking on a new look.

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Smart Homes, “The Internet of Things” is a phrase that refers to the objects and products that are interconnected and identifiable through digital networks. This web-like sprawl of products is getting bigger and better every day. All of the electronics in your home are fair game for this tech revolution, from your fridge to your furnace.

Examples of smart home products and their functions.

  • Cameras will track your home's exterior even if it's pitch-black outside.
  • You can control a thermostat from your bed, the airport, anywhere your smartphone has a signal.
  • LED lights let you program color and brightness right from your smartphone.
  • Motion sensors  will send an alert when there's motion around your house, and they can even tell the difference between pets and burglars.
  • Smartphone integration lets you turn lights and appliances on or off from your mobile device.
  • Door locks and garage doors can open automatically as your smartphone approaches.
  • Auto alerts from your security system will immediately go to your smartphone, so you instantly know if there's a problem at home.
  • Many devices also come with medical features.
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Well-conceived Universal Design is stealthy and can be invisible; it is simply good and economical design. UD in housing provides the freedom to live or work at home safely and independently. It means living in freedom in your own home for as long as you would like. It may also allow a person to recover and get well at home while reducing time and dollars spent in the hospital.

NOTE: Before attempting any changes, it is advised to ask for input from therapists, doctors or any other specialist involved in yours or your loved one’s care, as well as your builder. This helps create a design that will accommodate needs not just for today, but for months and years to come.