"Making Homes Accessible: Assistive Technology and Home Modifications"
Accessible design generally
refers to houses that meet specific requirements for accessibility. These
requirements are found in state, local, model building codes, and the
regulations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards A117.1-1998, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. These regulations, guidelines,
and laws dictate standard dimensions and features such as door widths,
clear space for wheelchair mobility, countertop heights for sinks and
kitchens, audible and visual signals, grab bars, switch and outlet height,
Adaptable design allows
some features of a building or dwelling to be changed to address the needs
of an individual with a disability or a person encountering mobility limitations
as he/she ages. Essential design elements such as wider doorways and halls
and barrier-free entrances are included as integral features, while provisions
are made for features to be "adapted" (modified or added) as
needed. To meet the definition of "adaptable," the change must
be able to be made quickly without the use of skilled labor and without
changing the inherent structure of the materials. For example, bathroom
walls may be designed with additional supports for the future installation
of grab bars. Cabinets under sinks can be designed to be removable whereby
the storage space under the sinks are replaced for knee space for a wheelchair
Equitable Use: Useful
and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Flexibility in Use: Accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Low Physical Effort: Can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
Perceptible Information: Communicates necessary information to the user, regardless of ambient
conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
Retrofit: To modify
an existing structure with new parts or equipment that were not available
at time of manufacture.
Simple and Intuitive Use: Easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language
skills, or current concentration level.
Size and Space for Approach
and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach,
manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
Tolerance for Error: Minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended
Universal Design (UD): The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, without
the need for adaptation or specialized design.
Visitable: Refers to
homes that are not only accessible to guests with disabilities visiting
the homes of nondisabled hosts, but to the future needs of the nondisabled
residents as well. "Visitability" is an advocacy movement proposing
that when topographically feasible, basic access to all new homes is a
civil right. Access features essential to visitable homes are a zero-step
entrance, accessible hallways, and bathrooms with doors wide enough for
a wheelchair user to enter. Such features make a home visitable to guests
with disabilities and can help a resident adapt in his/her home should
the resident's needs change due to a disability or reduced mobility.