Universal Design in the News

Here from Inside Bay Area is another of example of "second wave" mainstream reporting on Universal Design. The first wave began nearly 30 years after the concept was first created during the Disability Rights Movement on the 1970's. Confusion between ADA checklists for accessibility compliance and Universal Design as a design approach was typical of that era of reporting. The current message implicitly grasps that UD is not a style but emphasizing that it is specifically not a sterile lack-of-style or "hospital sterility."

Unfortunately, that message is only circulating among appliance makers, home builders, and remodelers. It has yet to permeate the business culture of hotels, resorts and airlines -- with exceptions like Alaska Airlines according to Travels with Pain and Springboard Consulting's Disability Matters Awards.

If you plan to live out your retirement years in your own home, adding universal design features will make aging in place safer and more comfortable. And if you should later sell, your buyers will appreciate how these upgrades anticipate their future needs.

Unlike home improvements designed to make an immediate impression, universal design additions with the most sales appeal are discreet.

"The beauty of universal design is when you're able to incorporate something that looks great and doesn't jump out at you," says

Paul Sullivan, a remodeling contractor in Newton, Mass.

In other words, says

Armand Christopher, a Realtor and designated Seniors Real Estate Specialist: "You don't put in hospital-grade grab bars in a bathroom when you are remodeling."

Fortunately, you don't have to settle for the institutional look. From ergonomically designed faucet handles to skid-free flooring, today's universal design products are stylish and subtle.

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