Universal Design

Posted by Steve Thielke on Jun 6, 2017 10:00:00 AM

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No matter your age or physical ability, aren’t you a bit relieved whenever you come across a doorway with automatic doors?  You don’t need to pull, push, twist or touch any handles. You needn’t recombobulate the packages or gear you’re carrying in order to free an arm or hand to operate the door. Understandably, manual doors are even more cumbersome for those using walkers, wheelchairs or strollers.

Along those same lines, you may breathe a little sigh of relief when a building entrance welcomes you with an easy-access entrance ramp – as opposed to a few flights of stairs. Or, did you ever notice yourself breezing through buildings that have wide doorways, hallways and walkways when you have extra stuff to lug around? That extra space takes the stress out of trying to slink through tight spaces – especially when hauling packages or bags that might otherwise bump and bang about on narrow doorframes.

These types of easy-to-access building features embody elements of Universal Design (UD). Universal design makes things easier for all users, regardless of age, mobility, visual, auditory or mental ability. It’s good design that addresses the needs of every stage of people’s lives.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design explains that there are 7 Principles of Universal Design. These principles speak to issues like equitability and flexibility, while being simple and intuitive to use – with low tolerance for error. Adequate size and space within areas facilitates approach and usage with ease for everyone… and every body.

UD has become a widely popular design concept, particularly in restroom design. Think about it:  isn’t it nice to experience restroom stalls that are roomier? Wider restroom spaces are not only more convenient when we’re trying to navigate luggage, packages, walkers, strollers or young children, but gives us some comfortable breathing space too. 

On the topic of restrooms, touchless products uphold the principles of UD. Think of restrooms with sensored lighting - you don't have to bother with trying to find or read directions on light switches.

As for touchless hand washing, Bradley’s Verge with WashBar and Advocate AV-Series are good examples of UD. These all-in-one hand washing fixtures provide all users easy touch-free access to soap, water and dryer. Since all hand washing elements are easily accessible in one integrated and compact unit, users needn’t move from the station in search of soap, towels or a hand dryer with wet dripping hands. This is especially important for those with mobility challenges who may otherwise need to use wet hands while using a walker, cane or wheelchair to access a dryer.


The next time you’re in a restroom – or a public facility – consider how “universal” the design is. Is it truly accessible for all? 

Topics: universal design

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