15 Ways to Apply Universal Design in Your Home

September 13, 2013 / by / In

Selywn Goldsmith, the author of Designing for the Disabled (1963), pioneered free access for disabled people and is credited with the creation of the dropped curb (now a standard). Many of his ideas were based upon the seven principles of universal design, an architectural movement coined by Robert L. Mace that emphasizes:

  • Equitable use
  • Flexibility in use
  • Simple and intuitive
  • Perceptible information
  • Tolerance for error
  • Low physical effort
  • Size and space for approach and use

Below are 15 ways that modern homes can implement universal design principles to increase accessibility and comfort for residents with and without disabilities:

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  1. Smooth ground-level entrances without stairs.
  2. Lever handles for opening doors rather than twisting knobs.
  3. Surfaces that are stable, firm, and slip resistant to prevent falls.
  4. Single-hand operation with closed fist for operable components including fire alarm pull stations.
  5. Wide interior doors, hallways, and alcoves with 60" x 60" turning space at doors and dead ends.
  6. Light switches with large flat panels rather than small toggle switches.
  7. Buttons and other controls that can be distinguished by touch.
  8. Bright and appropriate lighting -- particularly task lighting.
  9. Text captioned telephones and televisions for auditory impairments.
  10. Use of meaningful icons with text labels.
  11. Displays with light-on-dark visual contrast.
  12. Avoid clutter for easier navigation throughout the home.
  13. Labels on equipment control buttons that is large print.
  14. Automated doors that feature a "push" option if heavier than five pounds.
  15. Ramp access in swimming pools.
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