Comparing accessible, adaptable, and universal design
Accessible design generally refers to buildings that meet the requirements for accesible housing. This design model requires that the entire living space is navigable by wheelchair. Features may include wide doors and halls for wheelchairs, lower countertops, lever-and-loop handles, seating in bathing areas, grab bars in bathrooms, knee spaces under counters and sinks, audible and visual signals, switches and outlets at convenient heights and locations. Most “accessible” features are permanently fixed in place and very apparent.
An adaptable building differs slightly from the definition of accessible. It has all the accessibility features but some may be concealed or omitted until needed. The dwelling can look the same as others and be customized to the individual when needed. Adaptable features are a marketing advantage for owners and occupants as they allow fully accessible dwellings to be closely suited to their users and marketable to anyone.
Universal design is an architectual concept that requires an understanding and consideration of the broad range of human abilities throughout their lifespan. Buildings are designed with insight and purpose to produce humanistic spaces that are usable by most people, regardless of their agent, agility, or physical and sensory abilities. By making this level of accessibility the minimum standard, buildings become safer, easier to navigate, and more efficient for everyone to use. Creative, universal design has been show to be more widely marketable and profitable.
Read our website accessibility policy statement.