Posts Tagged ‘universal design’

Barbie’s Dream House for Aging in Place

Barbie as a senior

“The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it!” — Doris Day (image credit: Ya/sin’s photostream)

By Patrick Roden, RN, PhD (originally published in 2011)

A tweet from Kohler got me thinking: What do you think of Barbie’s new eco-friendly dream home from Mattel? We love the low-flow toilet!

Seems Barbie is trending green after years of Pink convertibles and end-less wardrobes; not exactly a sustainability lifestyle (making up for past sins?). The joint effort is a synergy of The AIA and Mattel, who have teamed up for the design competition in honor of “Architect Barbie,” the newest addition to the career-themed “I Can Be” series coming soon to a store near you. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Universal Design

Universal Design

This bathroom looks elegant but it also has all the elements for Aging in Place — a zero barrier shower threshold for walkers and wheelchairs, shower seat, hand-held shower, a foot bath with whirlpool jets and an attractive grab bar. (MTI Whirlpools)

By Guest Blogger Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDeA Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, State University of New York at Buffalo. The Future of Universal Design was originally written for Disability.gov, which is included in our list of government websites.

From Accessibility to Inclusion

Universal design (UD) is an idea that developed in the mid-1990s as advocates of making buildings and products accessible to people with disabilities realized that these features often had benefits for a broader population. Examples include curb ramps, automated doors, closed captioning in television sets and accessibility features for computer operating systems. Read the rest of this entry »

Austin Requires New Homes to be Accessible

Wheelchair Lady doing Laundry

Austin city council passes accessibility,
ramp ordinances for new homes

AUSTIN, TX (1/30/2014) — After two years of working on an ordinance amendment, the Austin City Council passed changes Thursday that will require all new homes be more accessible and visitable to people with mobility disabilities.

The idea to require changes to make housing more accessible first came up inside City Hall back in 1998. That’s when Austin adopted the changes for homes built with city funds. The intention was that it would lead to an across the board policy, but that never came to be.

City staff and council members have spent the last two years working with stakeholders to draft an ordinance amendment.

After much debate, and several postponements, the council passed the ordinance amendment 6-1 with Mayor Lee Leffingwell voting against the measure. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multigeneration HomesMultigenerational homes were common during the Great Depression but declined once people rebounded economically. Now, as John Graham, coauthor of Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living, observes, the recent recession has prompted a move back from valuing independence to interdependence.

Some 51 million Americans (16.7% of the population) live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent with at least one other generation, under one roof, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The Pew analysis also reported a 10.5% increase in multi-generation households from 2007 to 2009. Now builders are responding with homes designed specifically for multi-generation homes, or that can be modified to support that option later.

Could this trend be a utopia of built-in child care, elder care, three square meals, and shared costs? Could it avoid isolation in old age? Read the rest of this entry »

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably.

Portrait of a beautiful senior woman smiling at home

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably
by Eliminating Safety Hazards at Home

Guest article by Anna Graves, a freelance writer
who lives on a farm in upstate New York.

Researchers from Colorado State University reported what most of us long suspected—the number one reason seniors fall in their home is tripping over something they didn’t see on the floor. The dangers don’t stop at the front door, either; uneven sidewalks, poor lighting and steep inclines present challenges for seniors. While you can’t remove every risk of a fall, you can explore your options to ensure your home (or the home of an elderly parent or friend) is safe.

First Things First

Every room in the home has potential dangers. Take a tour of the home with a friend or relative and look for hidden risks of a fall. Read the rest of this entry »

How Seniors Learn Technology

Photo of elderly couple proudly showing off their new iPadToday’s neck-snapping pace of innovation threatens to leave older members of society on the outside looking in through the twilight of their lives.
But what can we do?

That was the sentiment of Get old, tune out: Is technology leaving the elderly in the dust? I stumbled upon this article and had to comment, because I thought it missed an important point. The article was written from the perspective of a 30-year-old after assisting his 60-some-year-old father-in-law and gives you insight into how younger people view seniors.

“These older folks lack the base-line understanding that people of my age (early 30s) received,” he said, and he was right. But it has less to do with basic understanding and more to do with how older people learn and adopt technology. Product designers, especially young ones, need to understand this lesson.

My response

All product designers should see www.mhealthtalk.com/2011/09/webcam-101/. It’s a short video of a cute elderly couple trying to use their new PC and includes a link to a related article presenting the Apple iPad as a much simpler solution. Using any new technology can be daunting because of how seniors learn, and that contrasts with how young kids, or adults who grew up with tech, learn. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim’s Place, an Assistive Technology Lab at St. Ambrose

Photo shows a plaque on the side of Jims Place at St. Ambrose University honoring Jim O'RourkeSt. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa has a unique Assistive Technology Lab that’s doing some special things to help people with different disabilities. It’s part of a Masters in Occupational Therapy curriculum that teaches students how to improve lives, and I’m happy to feature the program in this article and its attached video.

Assistive technology is anything used to increase, maintain, or improve our functional capabilities, and we all use assistive technology in one form or another to improve our lives. Examples include eye glasses & contacts, hearing aids, remote controls, cordless phones, computers, bicycles, cars, etc. When these items, tools if you will, are designed for use by anyone regardless of age or ability, we use the term Universal Design, but some of the tools are designed for special needs, such as the wheelchair designed for someone who can’t walk, or the smartphone apps designed for people who are blind. Read the rest of this entry »

Brianna’s Smart House

I just returned from CES 2013, the big consumer electronics show, where I learned about the latest in health & wellness technologies and home automation products that can serve seniors and the disabled and support aging in place, when I saw this story on KCBD News Channel 11. They’ve been following the story of Brianna Graves, an active little girl who was diagnosed at age 9 with Gorham’s Disease, also known as “Vanishing Bone Disease.” Instead of focusing on what Brianna cannot do anymore, this story looks at what she can do from now on.

It’s a heart warming story of how technology and universal design concepts can make life easier – in this case for a young girl with some severe physical limitations.

Brianna controls her environment by moving her lip, as a computer monitors the movement. But just imagine what she’ll soon be able to do with the brain sensing technologies that I saw at CES. I’m excited about the pace of tech innovation and the positive impact on medicine, health care, and wellness. And I’d like to hear your stories of how technology has helped you or a loved one.

Accessibility and Assistive Technology

Visit this site to learn how you can see how accessible your website is. I’m on a journey, and you can help, especially if you’re having trouble accessing any part of this website, which was created in WordPress. Your suggestions can help me make accessibility improvements for others.

In March I spent several days at the SXSW trade show promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained new perspectives about building websites for accessibility and my own site, Modern Health Talk. While I’ve written many articles here about universal design and products built for various disabilities, actually using that advice myself is a different matter, so it was enlightening to hear how a blind person navigates this site with a screen reader that speaks the written words. I also learned to include text descriptions of photos and images, but sometimes there’s so much content that doing so is difficult, such as with an infographic. And I learned that watching movies & videos can be a challenge for the blind, especially when there’s no dialog. That’s why I was happy to learn that Regal Entertainment Group announced that it’s starting to support special goggles for vision or hearing impaired patrons to they can see captioning that doesn’t display on the big screen or hear video descriptions of scenes with no voice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Design Makes Home Accessible

Houzz Tour, by rom architecture studioThis Houzz home tour is about beautiful design that also addresses the mobility needs of all the family members — two of whom are wheelchair users. It offers more space for wheelchairs, easier access to appliances and a curbless shower that fits this Seattle family’s needs.

Karen Braitmayer and her husband needed more square footage and were resigned to building a second story before connecting with an architect who understood structural modifications and was able to provide more livability and accessibility in the same 1,830 sq.ft. footprint. The architect knew that “Adding a second story would have ruined the architectural character of the home and required multiple elevator trips a day.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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