This article is from the Summer 2007 edition of the Extension Connection newsletter.
Strollers, crutches and wheel chairs can be accommodated easily when a home has a no-step entrance, an esthetically pleasing solution. And consider getting your luggage on wheels into the house and carrying in groceries when you eliminate steps. The no-step entrance is just one example of universal design.
Iowa State University Extension helps citizens understand why universal design makes a home better. Universal design incorporates products as well as building features and elements that can be used by everyone. The design features accommodate the changing needs of individuals throughout their life span.
“The design is inclusive. It’s being hospitable and friendly for those who may visit your home,” said Mary Yearns, ISU Extension housing specialist. “Universal design makes homes convenient, attractive and appealing.”
Vince and Jean Hassebrock live north of Ames on a farm and are ready to begin a second project that incorporates universal design. “In 1998, Mary helped us design an addition to our home that added the laundry, master bedroom and bath on the main floor,” said Jean, a cancer survivor who has neuropathy, a disorder of the peripheral nerves. Five years later Vince broke an arm and a hip in a farm accident so the universal design in place was welcome.
This summer the Hassebrocks are adding an attached garage to their home that will save them from going down steps and outside to their current garage. Again Yearns has helped them with details and talked to their builder to ensure the garage is a good design fit for the home.
ISU Extension housing specialists advocate using universal design when building or remodeling. “It’s better to plan ahead rather than waiting until you are in a crisis situation and need more accessible features,” Yearns said.
To learn more about universal design and resources available from Iowa State, contact Yearns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call (515) 294-6568 to schedule a visit to see Iowa State’s Home for All Ages on campus, or visit the Web site, www.hdfs.hs.iastate.edu/udll/.