Designing Accessible Housing
Universal or Lifespan Housing is design that allows individuals to use their homes fully. The design does not call attention to the special features that have been introduced to accommodate a range of abilities. The home feels comfortable to all and is easy to maintain.
The following design features accommodate individuals with diverse abilities, are easy to use, and minimize hazards:
- Pathways to the house are flat, short, straight, smooth, firm, and wide.
- The primary entrance is a no-step entry.
- At least one bedroom, bath, and living area is located on the main level.
- Doors are wide enough to move through (36" preferred) and easy to open.
- Controls, outlets, and storage areas are located 20 to 44 inches above the floor.
- Controls and light switches are well marked and require little fine motor dexterity.
- Lighting is adequate and glare-free.
- Bathroom walls are braced so grab bars can be installed by toilets and tubs.
- Faucets and doors have easy to operate controls such as levers.
- Chairs and couches have firm seats and arm rests.
For more information about designing accessible housing see Practical Guide to Universal Home Design.
Design, Housing & Apparel — University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Housing as we age: A consumer's guide to home adaptation. Design, Housing & Apparel — University of Minnesota.
Other Recommended Resources
Housing Options for Seniors — Reviews different housing alternatives for seniors and their families to consider.
Universal Design — Institute for Human Centered Design — Reviews the history principles, resources, and more for Universal Design.
Practical Guide to Universal Home Design — East Metro Seniors Agenda for Independent Living (SAIL) — Practical guide for incorporating Universal Design elements when remodeling, building, or buying a home.