Universal Design Living Laboratory

– Thanks for coming today, I wanted to show you some features of the Universal Design Living Laboratory. Well first of all, I have
a no-step threshold here, this is a 1:20 slope ramp
from the outside portico into the front of the house here. Anything less than a 1:20
slope is not considered a ramp. You’ll notice that the front door here is set down into the concrete, so there’s only a 1/4
inch threshold transition between the outside
and the inside surface. This is the powder room. This is what I consider a public space, so we wanted to make it wide enough for, or large enough for, somebody in a power-assisted
wheelchair to use and be able to maneuver around easily. Notice that we have motion-sensing lights coming into the space, as well as a motion-activated fan. We also have a power operated skylight, cause we want to get some
natural light into this room. But most importantly is that we have what I’ll call a sliding panel here, so that we hide the toilet behind this, so it’s not seen from the public space. But if somebody needs to get inside they can slide this
door back into the wall. Toilets are all comfort height. At every toileting location we do have these nice, decorative grab bars. And we also placed a phone
system in at each location, because if there’s a problem,
you can do an All Page, so that every phone in
the house would ring and somebody will pick up
and come for assistance. This particular sink here
floats off the floor, and this allows somebody
in an assisted device to wheel up underneath this location. We were able to take this wall mount sink and float it onto this countertop, and also because of that, we were able to lower the mirror so somebody in a seated position is able is able to easily see themselves. The other advantage to
pulling this sink forward is that somebody can reach
the faucet lever a lot easier. This is the master bath,
excuse me, master bedroom. And just a couple of
features I’ll point out to you from a universal
design standpoint here. First of all, the beds are
a memory foam type bed. They’re two extra long twins
put together as a king. And we have individual
controls that allows the beds to raise and lower independently. And actually it helps
Rosemary in her sleeping because she doesn’t have
as many leg spasms and such when she’s lying on a bed of this type. Also, throughout the house we used different types of accessible blinds, this is a top-down bottom-up. The windows that we
used in the entire house are a casement style window. This has a single lever crank, or a latch I should say,
with a pin top and bottom, and a crank here on the left side, so this makes it easy for
somebody in a seated position to open and close the
window independently. We’re gonna move towards
the master bathroom here, a couple of features
I’d like to point out. Again the transition between spaces here, in this situation we floated
the floor up a little bit so it’s even with the
tile in the bathroom. More importantly though,
we used a fair amount of pocket doors on this side of the house. And the reason we did
this was space savings, but also because… we felt it was easier to open and close by using this handheld device. You can see a latch here that pops out that allows somebody
with limited dexterity or arthritic-type hands to be able to open and close this door. It also has a latch too, but you can see how easy these doors
open and close at will, with ball-bearing track that we have. First and foremost, the bathtub, the Whirlpool that we have here. There were several considerations here. Number one, is standing up in a bathtub is one of the least safe
things you can do in a home. There’s quite a number of accidents in regards to slipping in
a bathroom type setting. So, what we did is we purchased this Whirlpool that
has built-in grab bars, it’s a cast iron tub, but we also made a wider deck here, so instead of stepping into the tub you sit down and transfer
into the tub itself. Okay, it makes it a
little easier for somebody in a seated position to get across, see you can spin around, towel off, and then go about your day. We also, as part of the planning process, we thought that maybe in the future we would have a need for a
track or a hoist type system, so we did blocking up in the ceiling, here as well as in the
bedrooms near the beds, to enable somebody to use this tub if they were disabled in other ways. In the vanity area here,
it’s really amazing the difference that two inches makes. I’m 6’4, Rosemary’s 4’9
in a seated position, but having just this slight amount of change in counter height, she’s able to roll in
underneath this sink area here. The shower is probably the
most important area for us, one of the most difficult for us to design simply because you have to think about the needs you have now as well as the needs you
may encounter in the future. So in this particular instance, first thing we did was
we floated the floor to this whole-length
channel drain in the back. What that does for us is, gets water sloughed off
from this floor right away, so you’re not standing in
a center area of water, you’ve created a safer environment. Also, Rosemary desired
to be able to transfer from her existing chair to this seated fold-down chair. We like this because it’s adjustable, and you can fold it up and down. Notice we have grab bars all around. We did a solid material here, that allows ease of cleanability. And we have an adjustable
handheld shower here, which goes up and down, but also has an on-off
and a volume control. So you save water as you shower. We placed strategically
located shower niches, down low, for her, and then up high for me
at this shower location. Now this room, that we come off to, right off the master bathroom, we spent a lot of time thinking about our past living environments and moving clothes from the bedroom, all the way across the house, to a washer dryer that’s
outside in the garage. So we thought why not place the cleaning of the clothes
and the hanging of clothes, something that’s convenient to the users. So, we created this combination
laundry slash wardrobe, we simply call it a wardrobe. It was very important for
Rosemary to have access to both floors of the house. So we had this elevator installed. This is kind of between a commercial and a residential style. It’s a little larger than a residential. What we like about this elevator is that if you go between floors, you can pull straight in
and the door to the basement will be on the opposite side of this, so you don’t have to turn
around in the elevator, or you don’t have to
back up to getting out. Usually the focus of every
house is the kitchen area, and there’s a lot of unique features, I’m gonna spend just a couple of moments sharing with you here today. First of all, the center island here has multiple counter-tops
so it accomodates someone in a seated position, a mid-tier or an
averaged-size height person and a tall person such as myself. Naturally I would gravitate
to more of a tall side for chopping, etcetera. Rosemary would use the short
height for her cooking prep. It was very important
for us in this design, the idea of bringing everything to you, rather than you going in after it, and you’ll see that. Universal design requires that at least 50% of all contents be
accessible from a seated position and we’ve been able to accommodate that. Now, on this island, we have a couple of unique features here. A standard convection microwave here. But most importantly we
have a side door oven. This is a unit that is
not commonly available, but is made in Germany. This, believe it or not, same height here from the floor as what’s
in a typical range. But what this allows us to do, is get close to your turkey, or whatever you’re cooking inside, as opposed to standing way out and not having the leverage to get something out that’s heavy. Over here on this side,
again more storage. Pull-out drawers, etcetera. Here’s a convenient feature for everyone. And that’s, this is a standard dishwasher, with pull-out drawers, but we raised it 15 inches off, so it’s convenient for
myself and for Rosemary. And then we have drawer storage
underneath that as well. Now, here we have cutlery
storage, multiple tier, so we can get more
cutlery in the same amount of drawer space as what we had before. The sink here, using a
deep-well, stainless sink with the drain holes towards the rear to give us a little bit more knee space. Speaking of knee space, we
have that underneath here, and we’ve also mounted… the dishwasher, excuse
me, the drain disposal, so we can turn that on with
an air-switch underneath, rather than being on top,
it’s a lot easier to reach. A reverse osmosis water
and a single lever faucet with a pull-out here. Notice that the overhead
storage units here are 14 inches from here to here, as opposed to the standard 18 inches. That enables Rosemary to get up through the second shelf
here almost to these. Rosemary loves this feature, it is an area where she can pull in
and cook more comfortably than she was able to do before. These are thin-line
cooktops, they’re available in gas, electric, and
induction, we chose natural gas. They’re also available in
different burner configurations, a two burner, a single burner, and this is what’s called a steam table. We’re able to take this,
fill it up with water from the reverse osmosis system. And if you want to cook noodles, throw your noodles in here,
turn it on and cook it. When you’re ready to serve, you can flip a switch
and the water drains out, and you serve right from here, or you can remove the basket. The big selling feature for us was that you didn’t have to
take a big pot of water and try to wheel it over to the sink, flip it into a colander
and drain it there. There’s a risk of a burn happening there, which you eliminate in this arrangement. Drawer space, an interesting
feature with this was that, and we had never tried this before, we thought, “let’s put
our dishes down below,” they’re accessible for Rosemary and I’ve come to really like this too cause you’re not taking
heavy stoneware plates and putting them over-top
where you risk breakage, more often than not. Couple of things I’ll show
you out here in the garage. You’ll notice, and I didn’t
point this out in the beginning, but the only place that
has steps in this house, is to the basement. Everything else is a 1:20 slope or no threshold, like in the garage here, we actually poured the floor sloped. And we have no steps coming
out of the garage itself. You might ask yourself, “how do you address the
issue of carbon monoxide?” And we have a couple of exhaust fans that are motion activated, so when the garage door opens or closes, it’ll run 30 minutes and evacuate any carbon monoxide that’s in the space.


  • Mike Good

    I think this is an incredible example of universal design. However, I'd like to see more features and/or considerations for people living with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. Obviously, that adds in an element that would greatly affect many things. For instance, all faucets would need handles to avoid confusion. Pocket doors while having a great purpose here, would also lead to confusion. 🙂

  • Jenny Hughes

    Is this a joke?! BAD: shiny surfaces, too-fussy-busy design, DREADFUL basin = too-sharp corners wall pattern, bad low cupboards, too-busy top,ledge on mirror = for what?! No shelves by basin. Grab-bars shouldn't be shiny (nothing should), lighting terrible. Tap/faucet too sharp, needs more human-rounded shapes = I hurt my hands on these.

    Bedroom: table at bottom of bed too-sharp corners = I'd injure myself on it loads. Mouldings ceiling far too busy and tiring to look at. Blinds must do by hand = exhausting, same for turning handle window – maybe? Any bug screens? Flies+ are very annoying/tiring for me if get it = takes ages to get them back out.

    Tiles anywhere are bad for me: cold (unless underfloor heating) and I drop things = they break. Too tired to do more, shame.

    I've got an acquired brain injury+. So no: your place isn't 'universal' design, sorry but apparently it fits your needs which is good. I wish I could live in a home that fitted my needs but I'm not wealthy so I can't, sad.

  • MarkoRollo

    All this stuffs great, the problem is most of us that would like to live in a fully accessible house cant afford the cost.

  • gregatyis

    Thank you… VEry well thought out.


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