Universal Design in Housing

More than a year ago I started writing about Universal Design in communities and in housing. When I started writing, it was all theoretical. There were bits and pieces picked up on from various sources, but hardly anything tangible or real to confirm we were on the right path. Then there was a property. Then there were drawings. The drawings looked right, but apart from chalk drawing diagrams on the driveway and wheeling our chairs through them, there was really no way to know for sure if they would work.

But here we are at the end of 2020, and despite a global pandemic, we are now settled into our new, universally designed home. The property works amazingly well. It’s proximity to the hospital, doctors offices, grocery stores, library and downtown core all make it exceptionally wheel-able. The multiple barrier-free paths of entry in the home work. I can get in and out through the front ramp, or come in through the side door or garage and up the elevator, ensuring I can get in and out safely, no matter how much ice or snow builds up. The entryways, hallways and room layouts offer amazing space for travelling, turning or functioning (although when the pandemic is finished we need to figure out a good room layout for the living room and get ourselves some new couches that fit properly!) The kitchens, bathrooms and laundry room work. Each of the four wheelchair users in the house can do their own laundry, wash their dishes, cook their meals and clean themselves from their chairs. And collectively – between ourselves and the two apartments downstairs – we each pay in enough on a monthly basis that everyone has an affordable, accessible place to live.

I’ve also taken lots of pictures over the fall, and I’m hoping to pull those together in the coming weeks to help catalogue some of the learnings that we made in a more tangible way. But until then, we were privileged to have a videographer come in to do a brief video about the house, and I thought I would share!

Special thanks to Carter Duggan for his work on this video, and to Community Builders for the incredible work they did creating this home.

Other blog posts in this series:

The Case for Universally Designed Communities

“Can’t You Just Add An Elevator?”

Universal Design: Property Considerations

The Seven Principles of Universal Design

Universal Design: Zero Barrier Entries

Universal Design: Entryways, Hallways and Room Layouts

Universal Design: Bathrooms

One thought on “Universal Design in Housing

  1. I remember seeing your posts on Facebook way back, Heather, the house coming together. I know a few situations you mentioned using a stroke or car accident as examples where there is a massive struggle to make the house accessible. Universal design is definitely the way to go. 🏡


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