Universal Design and Adaptive Design

RetireThe goal of universal design is to create homes, workplaces, other environments, and products that are easy to use and attractive for persons of all ages and abilities. The principles of universal housing design may be applied to both new construction and renovations. Individuals with disabilities may also require specialized or adaptive design to tailor their living spaces to individual needs.

Design and Information Sites

These organizations and web sites provide information on the principles and guidelines for universal and/or adaptive design, and a range of educational and planning resources.

Center for Universal Design, part of the School of Design at North Carolina State University, is a "national information, technical assistance, and research center" in the field of universal design. This site provides extensive information about universal design. It also provides information about fair housing practices, home modifications and accessible and universal design features in homes. You can also view examples of new homes built using universal design principles. The site offers a number of online resources and publications and links to other organizations.

IDEA - Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access
IDEA began its work based on the concepts of accessible or "barrier free" design and expanded to the concept of universal design. The center provides "resources and technical expertise in architecture, product design, facilities management and the social and behavioral sciences" with the goal of improving the design of places and products so that they are usable by "a broad range of people, including people with disabilities and other often overlooked groups."

Universal Design in Housing
This article by Ronald L. Mace, F.A.I.A. on the Adaptive Environments web site provides a comprehensive overview of all the elements of universal design for accessible housing as well as some specific criteria.

Informed Consumer's Guide to Accessible Housing
This article from ABLEDATA provides a good overview and introduction to "legal and practical aspects of accessible housing." There are also links to additional related resources.

Online Resource Guides and Databases for Universal and Accessible Housing Design

Accessible Housing Information Center
This page contains a listing of all of the resources relating to accessible housing and universal design that can be found at the ABLEDATA website.

Accessible Design Resource Page
This page is one topic on the website of disABILITY Information and Resources. It has links to a number of online and print resources. This service and the website—makoa.org—is maintained by Jim Lubin, a C2 quadraplegic. Makoa is the Hawaiian word for "courageous."


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