All members of the household benefit from safer homes that impose fewer constraints on daily activities. Accessible and universal designed housing allows families to live together in preferred places instead of facing the emotional and economic costs of moving or institutionalizing a family member. Universal design in housing allows for the housing for the lifespan of all people; households can "age in place" over the life cycle without incurring significant remodeling expenses. Universal design features in housing refers to features which benefit everyone such as:
- entrances with no steps that make it easier to enter the home from the outside in the dark, while pushing a baby stroller, or on moving day
- wider doorways that are easier for everyone to enter, enhance interior circulation, and add a more spacious feel to the living unit
- light switches and electrical receptacles located at a height that is more reachable by those who may have trouble bending over or by young children who cannot reach the light switch mounted at a typical height.
Accessible, adaptable, and universal are terms now used to refer to housing or features in housing intended for use by people with disabilities and others. Each has different meanings and purposes. Designers and builders are now recognizing the marketability and versatility of houses with universal design features and are including universal features in new home construction. Follow these pages in the next few months for universal floor plans and illustrations from our "Next Generation Universal Home."
For persons with temporary or permanent disabilities, home modifications to critical areas of the house-entrances, bathrooms and kitchens, allow the inhabitants to remain in the home and community rather than move to an institutional setting. Fair housing refers to practices that comply with the federal Fair Housing Act, originally passed in 1968, and similar state and local laws. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998 is intended to strengthen enforcement of the Fair Housing Act requirements and to extend civil rights protections for families with children and persons with disabilities.