Understanding the Seven Principles of Universal Design

As you get older, your home may need modifications for aging in place. The right contractor must understand the seven principles of universal design.

1. Equitable Use

In order to be universal, a change has to have the same level of functionality for users of varying abilities. For example, people in wheelchairs can access a ramp just as easily as those on foot can use it.

2. Flexible Use

An accommodation must be usable regardless of the work pace or dexterity of the user. Certain tools are designed to produce accurate results no matter how agile the person using them happens to be.

3. Intuitive Use

Many gadgets seem complicated to master to those who are unfamiliar with them. To satisfy this principle, an item must be easy to understand and use for people of a variety of abilities and learning styles.

4. Perceptible Information

To make instructions or essential information equally accessible to all, it should be presented through multiple means. Closed captioning on the television or image descriptions for pictures on the internet are examples of this principle in action.

5. Tolerance for Error

Any fail-safe function is designed to compensate for human error, and this is an essential component of changes needed to accommodate aging in place. An oven or other appliance that shuts itself off after a certain amount of time is a good example of error correction. 

6. Low Physical Effort

The older you get, the more important it is to have a home that you can get around with minimal effort. Design features such as levers on doors or touch-activated faucets make using them easier.

7. Size and Space

Universal design accommodations take into account the additional space often needed to maintain mobility and use of items in your home as you get older. For example, doors may be widened to accommodate wheelchairs. 

Successful aging in place may require some updates to your home. Finding a contractor familiar with universal design principles is the key to getting the accommodations you need.