A Look at Age-Friendly Universal Design

A Look at Age-Friendly Universal Design

Posted on March 30, 2016 by Kathy Black

Have you ever tried to get around in a wheelchair? Or open a door with full hands?  Our environments can be major obstacles to our ability to do things we need to do.  Any efforts to help us get around with ease and promote our mobility is good on so many levels. It supports socialization, physical activity, and health. In fact, these are the same goals for age-friendly communities!

Universal design – a term coined by the University of North Carolina - is a concept that promotes the creation of places and spaces that are designed to be easily accessible for people and more functional to live.  It is based on the following principles: See photos below of accessible doorways, hallways and kitchen.




Principles of Universal Design







1. Equitable use

The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.




2. Flexibility in use

The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.




3. Simple and intuitive

Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.




4. Perceptible information

The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.




5. Tolerance for error

The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.




6. Low physical effort

Design can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimal fatigue.




7. 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.




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Sarasota County recently approved a Voluntary Certification for Visitability and Universal Design for builders to promote homes that will allow all of us to live in our homes despite changing needs and abilities throughout our lives. Sarasota County is offering free training for Universal Design for Living Environments at the Jacaranda Library in Venice on Thursday, April 14, from 5:00 -6:00 pm.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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