In the summer of 1998 Rosemarie Rossetti and her husband went on a bike ride to celebrate their wedding anniversary. What was supposed to be a relaxing ride turned into a life-changing event for Rosemarie when a 3.5 ton tree fell on her. The incident left her with a spinal cord injury, paralyzing her from the waist down.
With her mobility, safety and independence now limited in her two-story home, Rosemarie set out to build a new home with modifications she needed to maintain her independence.
To do this, she and her husband researched universal design principles and created a home that meets all of Rosemarie’s needs. In fact, the home is so innovative it’s known as the Universal Design Living Laboratory and its purpose is to help people “better understand how to create a more comfortable living environment that will enhance their quality of life.”
Living in Place and Universal Design Certifications for the Kendal at Home Team
According to the AARP, 87 percent of older adults want to stay in their homes as they age, but many have questions about how they can do so safely. To help make the homes of older adults safe and accessible for everyone, several members of Kendal at Home completed a three-day training course held at the Universal Design Living Laboratory and presented by the Living in Place Institute.
“It was an honor and a pleasure to be among internationally respected professionals who participated in this program. We are excited to work together with our home management professionals in the coming months to share new skills and integrate them in our continued effort to make homes a safer place to live,” said Lynne Giacobbe, executive director of Kendal at Home.
3 Universal Design Myths
A lot of people who think of universal design think it may make their home ugly or give it an institutional feel. That couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Rosemarie. Here are some common myths about universal design:
Universal design is just for older adults: Universal design is a framework that has been around longer than the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Rosemarie. As such, the principle is for everyone, not just for older adults.
“It’s a human-centered design,” she explains. “It’s for all people, short people, tall people.”
It will cost more money: A lot of time, incorporating universal design features doesn’t cost extreme amounts of money.
“It requires some foresight,” said Rosemarie. “It’s taking the space where you’ll need it most — most likely the kitchens and bathrooms — and maybe taking a little bit of the space out of the living room and bedrooms where it’s not so critical.”
It will negatively affect my home’s resale value: Many people seek universal design features when looking for a home or apartment.
“When I talk to people in the housing market that are building condominiums and apartments, those with universal design features are the ones that sell first,” she said.