“One of the distinguishing features of universal design is that the result needs to work well for a wider range of users than standard design while looking good,” according to Richard Duncan, Executive Director of the RL Mace Universal Design Institute. “Another key characteristic is that the design should be flexible – easily adapt from one use to another.”
A bathroom is a good example of where flexibility is needed.
The base configuration of this bathroom, pictured on the left, was designed to provide enough space next to the toilet to accommodate maneuvering room for a person who uses a wheelchair or a caregiver if needed.
Is that the best it can look?
One concern that some have with this bathroom design is that they think the extra space is wasted and looks unappealing. This picture (on right) shows the same toilet area with moveable furniture and accessories that make it more attractive as well as creating more storage. And the bonus – zero cost adaptation. If and when the space is needed, for those using equipment or needing care giving assistance, the furniture and accessories can be easily removed.
Mr. Duncan has spent nearly 25 years in the field of architectural and product accessibility and universal design in residential, public, and transportation environments. He has extensive experience in the design, costs, materials, and products in residential and nonresidential settings. His work includes the subjects of affordable housing and home and repair financing and transportation accessibility as well as community design for constituencies that include people with disabilities and aging households.