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Universal design

Universal design is a concept that strives to create usable environments for individuals of all abilities while addressing the needs across the lifespan.

While universal design originated in response to equal access for individuals with functional limitations and disabilities, it is not the same as bringing structures into compliance with ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Rather, it describes the approach applied from the earliest stages of the planning process to the end of construction, incorporating accessible design into all features and spaces.

Examples of universal design elements include:

  • Step-less entrances

  • Wide hallways and doorways

  • Level transitions between rooms

  • Non-slip floors

  • Lever door handles and single-handle sink faucets

  • Rocker slight switches (see photo)

  • No-step shower access

While many of these design elements may seem simple, they can enhance the usability of a home, making it adaptable to an individual's changing needs.


Photo of a universally designed home.

Questions about the content on this page? Contact Danielle Curran or Jodi Meznarich.
Last modified: December 12, 2006