Design for Disability….or just design for all?

February 11, 2010 at 8:19 am Leave a comment

 It is always fun for me to watch my friends walk through my front door, knowing that they are not thinking, “Hey, there are no steps to enter this house”. All of our exterior doors are stepless entryways to accommodate my husband’s wheelchair, but it is surely not immediately noticed by my guests. On more occasions than not, it has been a huge help to me as well; coming through the door with my wheeled work case, pushing my wheeled plant stands in/out of the house to change the soil, when leaving on vacation with my wheeled luggage and of course when we moved into the house it was priceless!

It is all of these great universally designed features that can be found in some of today’s products and buildings that benefit all people. So why, if these designs are virtually invisible, has the concept not caught on more?

An article in The Chronicle, feels that “Design for Disability Will Become the Norm”. In today’s world we are all touched by disability in some way; may it be a friend, family member or even ourselves. This is a constant that can and should be considered in all designs. Retrofitting is needed and does work, but can be costly and does not integrate the features into the overall aesthetics of the design, and potentially segregates the users.

The article notes, “When Thomas Edison filed his patent in 1877, among the uses he listed for it was ‘phonograph books, which will speak to blind people without effort on their part’.” Over 130 years later, we are seeing commercials for the recordable/talking books by Hallmark. If this was the mindset 130+ years ago, why are we not thinking this way for all new products/buildings now?

Entry filed under: Universal Design. Tags: , , , , .

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