Top 10 Universal Design Features for the Home

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
1.  First Floor:
Off set hinges widen clearance space for doorways.
  • Minimum 32" wide doorways (swing clear hinges can be installed on existing doors to widen opening.
  • 42" wide hallways.                  
 2.  Handrails:
On both sides of all stairways.
  • Interior stairways (banister should be installed in studs 1 1/2" from wall.)
  • Exterior stairways. 
     3. Shower Access:  The first floor bath needs an easy to use shower.
    • Hand-held shower.
    • Portable bath tub seat.
    • Bath transfer bench.
    • Scald control faucet.
    4. Grab bars not towel bars:
    • Attractive grab bars that look like towel racks can be installed near toilet, shower and tub.
    • Walls by toilets and showers reinforced during construction or remodeling for installation of grab bars later if needed. 
    5.  Accessible storage:  
    • Multiple height and/or adjustable height shelves should be used in closets and kitchen cabinets.
     6. Easy grip controls: 
    • Levers handles (doors and faucets.)  
    • D-shaped pulls.
    • Rocker panel lights switches.
    • Touch pad controls.
    • Larger-sized controls.
     7. Lighting:  User friendly lighting.

    •  Outlets/switches located 18"-48" above the floor.
    • Dimmer switches.
    • Lighting for exterior walkways, porches, halls, stairs and all transition areas.
    8. Accessible work surfaces/appliances:
    • Front loading washer/dryer.
    • Accessible refrigerator.
    • Electric range/front controls.
    • Large print/color contrasting controls. 
    9.  Safe flooring:
    • Low or no thresholds (beveled strips for heights of 1/4" or more.)
    • Slip resistant/non-glare flooring.
    • Low pile carpet. 
    10.  Safety devices.
    • Smoke detectors.
    • Night lights.
    • Temperature limiting mixer valves (anti-scald device.)
    • Carbon monoxide detectors. 

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