On Deborah Pierce's The Accessible Home. from The Miami Herald:
Conditions such as partial or complete loss of hearing or eyesight, for example, are far more common than severe spinal cord injuries or other limitations that prevent walking, and they can present numerous difficulties in coping with everyday tasks. Degenerative neurological conditions can affect balance, space perception and muscle control. Joint pain or arthritis can make it difficult to use doorknobs, faucet controls, cabinet latches and other common hardware. Even ordinary decreases in strength or flexibility can render an otherwise cherished home unfriendly, and Pierce notes that most homeowners queried want to "age in place," that is, to stay in their home even if they become disabled.
With this broader perspective outlined, the book turns to the specifics of design. As Pierce understands and conveys it, "universal design" aims at creating buildings and spaces that allow use by the disabled and able-bodied alike. The best features, she emphasizes, are user-friendly to all persons and don't give the home an institutional look or a makeshift appearance of improvised afterthoughts that detract from a home's aesthetics or value.