i + D - September/October 2020 - 47

What's in a Name?

Headphone jacks with tactile buttons at the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights help the
hearing impaired to better enjoy the exhibits.
(Image: Ian McCausland/CMHR)

Terms like accessible design, barrier-free, universal design, and
visitability, are now commonplace in design jargon. But do they
all truly mean the same thing? Not necessarily, according to
industry experts. Here's how to use these terms knowledgeably:
Accessible Design: The needs of people with various
disabilities are considered in the design and construction of
a building. The building needs to comply with at least the
minimal requirements to be usable by those with disabilities.
Aging in Place: It's the concept that a homeowner will
remain in their current house as they age, meaning that the
home should be designed with their future needs in mind, if
mobility and other functions should become impaired.

The Future of
Accessible Design
For Everton, whose entire career has been devoted in part to working with
accessibility issues, he believes that the next step is looking to the next
generation. "I'm a senior designer; I've been doing this for a long time,"
he says. "I find it unusual that the younger generation of designers doesn't
seem to get that there are some great opportunities to work in this field.
In design, it's not often that you get some true problem-solving issues, but in
this area, you get really exciting opportunities."
Meanwhile, Shankman-Cohn believes that certain features need to become
the norm in all new homes, whether it's voluntarily or through standards.
She says, "It's basically the tenets of visitability: a wider doorway, a zero-step
entrance, and an accessible bathroom." Her own definition of visitability goes
one step further and includes a bedroom on the main floor.

Barrier-free Design: This term was first used in the 1950s
as a predecessor to the term accessible design. It refers to
removing physical barriers that might impede access for those
with disabilities.
Universal Design: It's a design of a building that is usable
and accessible to people of all abilities, shapes, sizes, and levels
of mobility.
Visitability: This term refers to housing that is designed so
it can be visited by people with a disability or limited mobility.
The basic elements include one zero-step entry, one bathroom
that can be used by someone with a wheelchair, and doorways
that are at least 32 inches wide.

"With these tenets in place, it doesn't discriminate against people with
disabilities," she notes. "And if we design homes in the future following
these universal design tenets, there would already be solutions in place for
multigenerational families and their caretakers," a housing trend she thinks
will grow in the future.
Wilkoff agrees. "Designers are seeing the need to think about accessibility in
everything they design," he says. "People are starting to want to stay where
they live for longer; they don't want to be forced into a nursing home or
assisted living facility. If accessibility is planned into everyday life, it can make
everyone's life that much easier."

JESSICA GOLDBOGEN HARLAN
has written about the home furnishings industry for more than
20 years, and her work has appeared in HFN, Town & Country,
Stylus, TastingTable.com, ALLRECIPES.COM, AmericasMart
magazine, and Yahoo! A culinary-school graduate, she also is the
author of nine cookbooks, including Ramen to the Rescue,
Mason Jar Lunches, and The Little Book of Takoyaki.

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http://www.TastingTable.com http://www.ALLRECIPES.COM

i + D - September/October 2020

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