Designed to accommodate the needs of its wheelchair-bound owner, a unique home in Gahanna, Ohio, has emerged as a cutting-edge example of accessibility and universal design. Both private home and public showcase, the Universal Design Living Laboratory is packed with amazing features that may have originated as solutions to accessibility issues, but have found wide universal appeal within the general population.
The following list of key features in the Universal Design home provides a template for home design that can accommodate the changing needs of residents as they move through life's changing phases. The list can also serve as a home renovation aid for people who would like to age in place and continue to live independently in their current homes.
- Lower light switches and higher electrical outlets require less bending and stooping and are easy to reach from a wheelchair
- Sill-less exterior doors eliminate trip hazards and remove access barriers to people with wheelchairs, scooters and walkers, permitting access to patios, porches, decks, backyards, and garages
- Lower kitchen countertops permit wheelchair access. Knee-hole cutouts at work stations allow wheelchair users to prepare meals and perform kitchen tasks comfortably; multi-level and adjustable countertops can be installed to accommodate the needs of all family members
- Shallow cupboards and 4-inch deep pantry shelves permit universal access by people with and without mobility issues
Photo: Oakwood Custom Homes