UNIVERSAL DESIGN

■ What is ‘Universal Design’?

Universal Design, also called barrier-free design, focuses on making the house safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of their age and physical ability. In many cases, it only needs small changes in simple things, such as the shape of an element, its location or size and the strength necessary to operate it.

Expert architects, product designers and engineers established principles* of Universal Design to provide guidance in the design of products and buildings.

■ Simple rules for a user-friendly house
1. At least one bedroom and accessible bathroom should be located on the ground floor (on the same level as the kitchen, living room, etc.).
2. Tall and wide doors* must allow everyone (including disabled people in a wheelchair) to move easily around the house.
3. Entrances should be at ground level without stairs.
4. Design an appropriate lighting system, considering particularly task lighting.
5. Provide tables and counters that have a variety of heights to accommodate standing, seating and a range of different tasks.
6. Mount bathroom sinks no higher than 80 cm. from the floor.
7. Replace the door twisting knobs with lever handles.
8. Install grab bars in the shower and beside the toilet.
9. Provide appropriate width and space at the bottom of stairs for later installation of a platform lift, if needed.
10. Operate the garage door by remote control.

■ Social value of Universal Design

The idea of Universal Design is getting more and more popular because most of the features needed by people with disabilities are useful to others.

Carelessness in design criteria for both private and public spaces can result in inaccessibility, isolation of a group of people and holding them back from participation in emotional, social and economic life.

9 Answer the questions.
1. What does Universal Design focus on?
2. How is Universal Design also called?
3. What changes are necessary to make things easy to use by everyone?
4. Who establishes the guidelines of Universal Design?
5. Why is Universal Design becoming more and more popular?
6. What is the social value of Universal Design criteria?

10 Choose the correct options to complete the sentences.
1. One bedroom and a bathroom should be located
............................................
a. near the kitchen
b. on the ground floor
c. beside the entrance
d. on the first floor

2. Universal Design may include ...........................................
a. lighting design
b. wall colours
c. garden design
d. dimensions of the garage

3. The bathroom sink must be mounted ........................................... from the floor.
a. higher than 80 cm
b. at about 1 m
c. at 40 cm
d. no higher than 80 cm

4. The doors must be tall and wide enough to ...........................................
a. move the furniture easily
b. let children play
c. move in a wheelchair
d. listen to music everywhere in the house

5. Grab bars must be installed ...........................................
a. far from the shower
b. under the sink
c. beside the toilet
d. in the entrance

6. At the bottom of the stairs, the space for a future ........................................... should be provided.
a. lift
b. escalator
c. ladder
d. platform lift

11 Have you ever had any mobility problems?
Tell your teacher and your classmates if you or a member of your family or a friend have had any problems after an accident or an illness.
Tell them about the feelings of that person and if any special changes have been implemented in the house.

12 You are an architect in charge of designing a residential home for elderly people.
Following the principles of Universal Design, write a text (about 80/100 words) explaining the structural solutions of the building itself and the practical usage of spaces and items.

Landmarks
Landmarks
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