I recently received a call from someone seeking building specifications for universal design. She wanted to know heights, distances, widths, brightness, etc. I humbly told her that I’m not the spec guy. Those are codes and in the USA, codes are local, very local. Not only do you want to meet your local laws, you want to insure that every area of compliance has been covered. This often includes local ordinances specific to community developments, neighborhoods and even block associations and historic districting.
I did tell her that universal design was an approach, a philosophy, an attitude and even an open dialogue in it’s supporting and designing the ways we build our products and environments. I pointed out that although she was building to suit the needs of a family member in a wheelchair, that she had to also design for herself. It wasn’t either/or, it was both/and. She understood quickly.
Below are a few articles about universal design. My wish is that they inform and inspire.
- A Brief History of Universal Design, by James L. Mueller & Ronald L. Mace,1998. History, accessibility, legislation and the demographics of universal design by two of its creators.
- A Brief History of Disability Rights Legislation in the United States, by Poly Welch & Chris Palms, 1995. It seems so simple when looking back, but the history of disability rights tells of a powerful fight that produces so many of the civil rights that followed.
- Livable Communities: An Evaluation Guide (pdf), by Mary Kihl, Dean Brennan, Jacqueline List, Neha Gabhawala, Parul Mittal, May 2005. Thinking about relocating or making your present community more livable? Looks at transportation, walking, shopping, housing, health services, recreation and culture.
- World in the Balance, Voices of Concern, by Paul Hewitt, 2004. Is world population exploding or imploding; understand the perspective on how different country’s populations are aging.
- Lighting for Universal Design (pdf), by Patricia Rizzo, 2007. Understand your eyes, color temperature, lighting efficiency and circadian cycles. Then learn how to integrate lighting for desirable results.
To those who generously gave their time to a survey designed to make the Universal Design Resource website better, big thanks! Your answers were thoughtful and provided much guidance. For those who didn’t take the survey, have a look at both it and the website. I will be up through the remainder of April.