"It Just Makes Sense..."


Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon publish their common sense design and remodel philosophy in Deseretnews.com:

Look around your house. Check out the front porch, the hallways, the bathrooms, the doorways. If someone who uses a wheelchair or a walker or even a cane came to your home, how easy would it be for him or her to get around?

Whether you call it accessible design, visitable design, or universal design, making your home welcoming to all your family and visitors is just plain good sense. Even if no one in your immediate circle has physical limitations, you may have an occasional need to accommodate a guest or a future need to accommodate a family member as the years go by.

Of course, if Universal Design was simply common sense - and I do believe that one day it will be considered so - then it would not have taken more than 30 years of continual public and professional education, as well as legislative action, to bring it to mainstream consiousness.

Which is to say that there is a difference between "accessible design", "visitable design" (sic), and Universal Design.

Accessible design is for people with disabilities. Universal Design is for all people. As we said at the 2005 Santa Cruz Universal Design Conference:

Universal Design is different than accessible design.

Accessible design means products and buildings that are accessible and usable by people with disabilities.

Universal design means products and buildings that are accessible and usable by everyone--older people as well as young, women as well as men, left handed persons as well as right handed persons.

Accessible design has a tendency to lead to separate facilities—for example, a ramp set off to the side of a stairway at an entrance or a wheelchair accessible toilet stall. Universal design, on the other hand, provides one solution that can accommodate all people. It simply acknowledges disability, aging, and other differences as a part of every day life.

Those trying to ride the wave of Universal Design, especially as Boomers age, would do well not to undercut the value of the product they think they are selling by making inaccurate associations.

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