What is Universal Design?


    Universal Design is the creation of products and environments so that they are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible. Universal Design features can make it possible for an aging homeowner to remain comfortably and safely in the home on an independent basis and for a longer time.

    Real estate professionals should be aware of this growing trend in home construction and highlight these design features when helping 50+ buyers search for a home. Buyers may not be aware of the benefits of Universal Design in home design or fully appreciate how these features enhance present comfort and support future Aging-in-Place.

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  1. 1.Equitable Use

  2. Same means of use, or equivalent, designed for people with diverse abilities, appealing to all users, not segregating or stigmatizing any users

  3. Privacy, safety and security are equally available for all

  4. 2.Flexible Use

  5. Accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities including both left- and right-handed users

  6. Adapts to user’s pace and aids the precision

  7. 3.Simple and Intuitive

  8. Use of the item is easily understood independent of experience, language, knowledge or ability to focus

  9. Consistent with user expectations and intuition

  10. Information arrangement reflects importance

  11. 4.Perceptible Information

  12. Design communicates what the user needs to know independent of the surrounding conditions or the user’s senses, such as hearing

  13. Provides the information several ways, such as verbally, visually, but touch for the blind, and large print for those with large vision.

Seven Universal Design Principles

  1. 5.Tolerance for Error

  2. Minimizes hazards and provides warnings

  3. Minimizes consequences of accidents and mistakes and provides fail-safe features and a means to correct mistakes, such as a cancel button

  4. 6.Low Physical Effort

  5. Reduces repetition and sustained effort

  6. Requires only reasonable operating force

  7. Allows user to maintain a neutral, normal body position, with little or no bending

  8. 7.Size and Space for approach and use regardless of body size, posture or mobility

  9. Clear line of sight for standing or seated user

  10. Components are reachable from a seated or standing position

  11. Accommodates variations in hand and grip size

  12. Allows user to approach, reach or manipulate in the appropriate space, such as doors and hallways wide enough for wheelchairs and reduced-height or extended counters to accommodate people of small stature or in wheelchairs.

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