What is universal design?

Universal design has been defined as the design of products and environments so that they are useable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design. The intention being to simplify life for everyone by making housing more useable by more people at minimal extra cost. universal-design-1 A Universal House uses building features, fittings and products in combination to increase usability, benefitting people of all ages and abilities. For example, a doorway or passageway is more easily navigated by users of mobility devices such as walking frames, wheelchairs or even a children’s pram it it is slightly wider then typical. With regards to fittings, people with limited hand function find screw-type sink taps more difficult to use than lever-type taps which can be used by everyone. A similar benefit is found in using lever-type door handles and rocker electrical switches; incorporating the most useable fittings at the time of construction reduces the need for later retrofitting. A universal house will ensure rooms and services with the home are of a size and type which is useable by as many people as possible. When homes are retrofitted with ramps, handrails, and other devices to provide enhanced usability an institutionalised appearance can result- this in turn also raises the value of the property and can be accurately determined by a certified valuation company. Universal design does not propose special features for the aged or disabled but instead promotes normalised solutions to access and usability for the majority of people through the use of standard building products and practices. For example, designing an entry without the need for steps removes the need for the latter addition of a ramp and handrails for wheelchair users, while improving current access for children’s prams. We are proud to be involved with the following businesses who practice universal design in their current practices:


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