Monday, June 9, 2008

Universal design becomes more common as Boomers remodel, build

As baby boomers age, and issues such as compromised eyesight and dexterity become apparent, there's a lot more thought being given to design and remodeling concepts that make physical tasks easier. Design modifications are being made both in architecture and products that are better suited for multigenerational audiences with varied requirements.  Universal design is the buzzword, and it's being incorporated into new and existing housing to allow aging in place. Baby boomers from ages 43 to 61 number nearly 80 million. With those numbers, boomers will significantly impact the remodeling industry over the next five years, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

It's much more people-friendly than the older barrier-free concept that was part of the Americans with Disabilities Act package. That resulted in ramps at some entrances of public buildings for wheelchair-bound Americans and bathrooms with wide stalls that called attention to their limitations. New universal designs are about eliminating handicapped stigmas while marrying barrier-free function with aesthetics.

An estimated 30 million Americans use wheelchairs or walkers, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). But the concepts of universal design are attractive to all generations.

Source/more:  Orange County Register/UPI, http://www.ocregister.com/articles/design-universal-design-2061129-aging-boomer

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