Ask the Disability Services Expert – Brandon Thomas
Universal design is a concept that can support the abilities of many people regardless of ability level of age. The goal of universal
design is to simplify life for everyone.
Most Canadians live in
residential housing that has not been designed according to
universal design principles.
However if new homes were designed and built according to these principles then the need for future expensive renovations could be substantially reduced/eliminated.
FlexHousing is the concept to
accommodate the needs of people with diverse abilities. Universal design principles are incorporated into a home to
accommodate the changing needs of people allowing them to remain independent in their own home. It includes adaptable design such as: reinforcing walls in bathrooms to make it easy to install grab bars; accessibility such as wider than standard
doorways, affordability and healthy housing including air
quality and energy efficiency.
Visitability refers to newly
constructed, single family homes with the following minimum features: a level entrance at the front, back, or side entrance, door openings with a minimum of 32 inches, and half a bath on the main floor. These 3 guidelines to ensure that everyone regardless of mobility will be able to at least visit someone else’s’ home, use the washroom, and exit the home.
Adapted from CAOT Position Statement: Universal Design and Occupational Therapy