Universal Design

May 4, 2008 at 9:27 am 2 comments

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my usually my not quite cutting edge city already had an ordinance on Universal Design! Yup, Long Beach CA is one of those forward thinking cities for a change!

However we are still in the minority and for those of you who would like to advocate that your city move forward on this issue here are both a short explainer and some links to some sites on the subject.

Universal design is an outgrowth of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) movement. The movement’s aims are summarized very well by the quote below.

“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” – Ron Mace, founder and program director of the Center for Universal Design

Bio Here: http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/about_us/usronmace.htm

The main goal is to create these accessible environments with little or no additional cost. A great deal of progress toward this goal is made by simply following the ADA guidelines or Title 24 in the state of California. However there are further improvements to be gained by analyzing other choices that are part of putting up a new building.

A great example is one I heard at the recent Housing California conference. The new apartment building doors have two peep hole viewing devices on the entry doors for each unit. This allowed for someone who was shorter, a child or in a wheelchair to view potential visitors from the safety of inside of a closed door.

Another simple example might be the choosing of a refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom for an apartment that may be serving residents in wheelchairs.

Universal Design does not just benefit the disabled, it is not disabled housing. We all change as we age and it is far better that someone be able to maintain their housing as we become infirm due to age, medical reasons, accidents or any number of other reasons. It also helps to facilitate community by reducing barriers to your family and friends who my want or need to visit.

There are many great links on this subject and below are just a few:

Universal Design’s guiding principles: http://design.ncsu.edu/cud/pubs_p/docs/poster.pdf

Wikipedia’s explainer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_design

Universal Design.com: http://universaldesign.com/

Universal Design Education: http://www.udeducation.org/

AARP Site: http://www.aarp.org/families/home_design/

Universal Design Alliance: http://www.universaldesign.org/

Universal Design Consultants: http://www.homesforeasyliving.com/

As always thank you for reading and if there are any questions, suggestions for future posts or comments please send me an email at:askthefm@gmail.com

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ash  |  May 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm


    The blog looks great. I like the look and the links, and I guess the commentary… I’m sure it will prove to be a very useful tool in the realm of FM.

    Here’s to your success!


  • 2. IDAssociates  |  April 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Enjoyed your blog. Congratulation to the city of Long Beach.
    We should all get involved in the promotion of universal design ordinances.

    My research on universal design led to the publishing of Residential Universal Design Guide, a Standards Manual for Architects, Interior Designers, and Builders.

    Andrée Langlois


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