Universal Design is a style of house designed to enable everyone including elderly and disabled people to live their lives together in the house conveniently. So, for families that have members of several ages and have a plan to build or renovate their houses, they should really adopt this idea.
The Principles of Universal Design
Universal Design was created to meet the requirement of people of every age and figure. They can enjoy living in the house equally and those who are different will not feel out of place. There are 7 principles:
1. Equality: Everyone in the family must be able to get in and out of the house thoroughly and to make use of the space in the house conveniently with safety. For example, the floor should be smooth without different levels so that elderly or disabled people can move about in the house conveniently. There should also be enough light in the house to minimize risks of accident.
2. Flexibility: the functions and space in the house should be adjustable for several kinds of usage. A room on the ground floor should also be a temporary bedroom in case someone is injured or ill and cannot walk up and down the stairs. The tables in the house should also be on wheels so children and elderly people can move them without having to carry them.
3. Easy Usage: The furniture should accommodate you and other appliances in the house should be user-friendly. The wall cupboard in the kitchen and the stuff that are often used should not be too high or too difficult to reach.
4. Easily-readable Labels: You should put a label or description that can be understood easily on appliances or tools that are difficult to use such as putting labels on switches and plugs to show that they are of different appliances.
5. Be Ready for Unexpected Events: Accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, so you have to always be prepared by, say, installing handrails and emergency alert system in the bathroom in case you fall over.
6. Labour-saving: Use the kind of tools and appliances that do not require much labour to use so that elderly people or feeble people can also use them. An example is to not use doors that are too heavy to open.
7. Fit for everyone's figure: The space and the appliances must fit everyone's figure in the house or be adjustable for each person when they use them.
An example of a house with Universal Design.
1. Door: The width must not be less than 90 centimetres with the space in front of it not less than 1.5 x 1.5 metres. Instead of using doorknobs, use door levers or handles on a push plate, 1-1.2 metres higher from the ground. The door must be easy to open without a lot of labour and there should be no doorsill as it can cause people to stumble over it.
SHERA Door and Door Frame with a variety of size, including the ones with 90 centimetres width.
2. Staircase: the width should be at least 1.5 metres and each stair should not be too steep (the height of each stair should not be more than 15 cm. and that of the width should be at least 28 cm.) The stairs should be made of the kind of material that is not slippery and you should attach tread nosings to them. The handrails should be at least 1.1 metres high from the ground. There should be a landing or an intermediate platform every 2-metre height.
SHERA Stair, the width is up to 30 cm. and the height is 15 cm. and above.
3. Toilet: The width of the toilet should not be less than 1.5 metres with a space for a wheelchair to rotate. The floor should be made of the kind of material that is not slippery and the sanitary ware should fit everyone in the house. Avoid using a squat toilet to minimise risks of accidents. Install handrails around the sanitary ware and along the toilet wall 80-90 centimetres high from the ground.
For those who have a plan to build a house for their parents, elderly relatives, disabled people, or for themselves when they become old, do not forget to apply the principles of Universal Design so that everyone in the family can live their lives in the house with convenience and safety.