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Design for Disability

 

This is an area that we don't know much about from personal experience. We have found some great websites however and they are listed below. 

If you feel strongly about something,  if you have experience of  particular products in the home that make life easier for you, ideas to help adapt existing situations  or have something to say about design difficulties or hazards you have experienced, why not get in touch.

e mail us at  disability@roomreview.com

 

The following comments highlight some of the issues involved:

"I am concerned by my lack of knowledge in this area. Sure I know some basics like ramps and toilet facilities, hand rails and socket heights but I really have no idea about the availability of products designed to meet special needs."

"The normal run of interior design magazines don't seem to deal with it and neither do the television programmes, at least not regarding design in the home."

"Its almost as if we only deal with it in the public arena . Ramps and disabled toilets is as far as we get."

"As far as the home goes you only deal with it if you have to."

"I am a bit more aware of the problems recently, as I have a friend with Multiple Sclerosis who is now coming to a time when there are many issues to deal with in terms of design around the home, and a need for products of all kinds to ease the situation as much as possible. It would be great if you could help with ideas."

Well, none of us are getting any younger and according to statistics there are at least 20% of the population dealing with some sort of dis-ability.  That's a lot of people with a direct concern in this aspect of design, so we'll see what we can learn.

We particularly like one idea that often features in disability related websites, sometimes referred to as "Universal Design".

The Center for Universal Design in North Carolina University defines it in terms of seven principles:

The Seven Principles of Universal Design

1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to any group of users.
2. Flexibility in Use:
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
3. Simple and Intuitive Use:
Use of the design is easy to understand.
4. Perceptible Information:
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user.
5. Tolerance for Error:
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions.
6. Low Physical Effort:
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably.
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use:
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach and use.

You see, designing for the disabled is really not very different to designing for anyone else. It's a case of finding out what someone needs (which means asking the right questions and then listening carefully to the answers) and finding a design solution that satisfies them.

Sounds easy doesn't it, but we're still finding out how that one works. Disabled or not, everyone's needs are different, so for us interior design will always be an ongoing learning process, and that's what keeps it fresh and exciting. 

 

Outlinks

Disability Rights Commission
Manchester based site containing News, Campaigns, and Interviews

Disability World Webzine
US based Web-zine with International disability news and views

Disability Online
Well set-out, award winning information directory

Disability Resources Monthly 
A huge, well-organised site, with 'Universal Design' links.

Cornucopia of Disability Information
A Universal Design page from Buffalo

disAbility
Jim Lubin's well-known information & resources site

Yourable.com
Information, products and services for disabled people

 

 

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