Posts Tagged ‘universal design’

Occupational Therapists Help Modify Homes for Life

This article was originally published at 1 Call Bath Solutions and is re-posted with permission.

Click image to visit 1 Call Bath Solutions website at love working with occupational therapists. Why? Because we have the same goal of helping people live longer, fuller and more comfortable lives at home.

Occupational therapists are big picture experts.  Let’s take Mary.  She’s 85, lives at home and is challenged with Parkinson’s.  Sue, her occupational therapist, assesses her physical strengths and weaknesses, how the natural aging process is affecting her (things like eyesight and hearing that affect everyone over time), her medical condition and any psychological issues.  And the psychological part doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Mary—it could be just the typical fears of losing control over her own life and the lack of privacy that comes from depending on others.

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Promoting Accessible Web Design at SXSW

The event's logo is shown with the words "South by Southwest" in Braille belowI spent several days this week at SXSW promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained a new perspective of Modern Health Talk in the process.

South by Southwest (SXSW)

“South By” is a week-long music & film festival with over 2,000 bands and dozens of movie premiers from all over the world, as well as a fairly new SXSW Interactive segment for web, mobile and social app developers. Downtown Austin is closed to traffic all week and mobbed by an entirely different and very creative, live-fast, party-hard, and die-young species that thrives on alcohol, energy drinks and a high-energy vibe that can over stimulate older people. Bloomberg described it as “Woodstock for Geeks.”

Making traffic and parking even worse, Austin holds its annual rodeo during the same week. So each year I avoid the mess and have never attended even the tech conference, although it is credited for launching Twitter, Foursquare and other web hits and might normally have been interesting to me.

I just found the whole thing too loud, wild and geeky, and with way too much purple hair, tattoos & body piercings for my taste. But this year was different. Some of its attention shifted to Health, and that’s why I was there with Knowbility, taking the Metro Rail from near home to avoid traffic and parking hassles.

A New Look at Web Design (new for me anyway)

Universal access to education, jobs, government and society today means going online on the Internet, but imagine what it’s like for someone who’s blind, has severely limited vision, has some other disability that makes access difficult, or where English is not their primary language. I sat down with a blind person to get a critique of Modern Health Talk and listen to the text read aloud with JAWS screening reading software.

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Home Improvement Trends

eLocal Home Improvement Badge


Modern Health Talk founder Wayne Caswell is an home improvement expert and contributes to their industry surveys. Their first survey for 2012 is the same as for 2011 – What are the top Home Improvement Trends.  Below is an infographic that summarizes answers from 50 eLocal experts, followed by what I submitted for this year’s survey.


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Accessible iPhone Apps

screen shot of VoiceOverThe following article is adapted from some iPhone training material that Pat Pound created for special education teachers in June 2011. It describes over 70 accessible iPhone apps, and I thank her for permission to publish it here.

Vision: A Guide for iPhone Users who are Blind was one of the first articles on this blog. It’s short but has several good links to more info, and this YouTube video demo shows how a blind person would use the VoiceOver feature.

And visit to learn more about assistive features in iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and to discover other 3rd party add-on products and apps for all sorts of needs, including visual, hearing, dexterity, and learning.

By Pat Pound

Apple’s iPhones (starting with the 3GS) are accessible to people who are blind as they come, complete with a screen reader, “VoiceOver”, and print enlarger “zoom”. As you know, the iPhone is famous for its touch screen so this is a very new experience for most blind users.  Apple reps are well prepared to sell these phones and to explain their accessibility features in their stores, although it’s a noisy environment so it can be somewhat challenging. Similar accessibility is experienced on iPod Touch and iPad devices.

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Aging-in-Place advice for Contractors

Don't just say, "Trust Me." Earn Trust.In this recessionary economy, home construction is slow, but one bright spot is home modifications for aging in place. I was happy to meet a reputable local contractor who is adopting Universal Design principals and embracing the Aging-in-Place market. They’re going to Houston next week for a Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) class, which covers low-tech construction projects but not high-tech solutions like environmental and medical sensors and telehealth services. Our discussion got me thinking about advice for builders and remodeling contractors that I created  several years as Communications Director for HOT. Homeowners of Texas is a non-profit consumer advocacy that helped get an abusive State agency abolished. But until we can produce our own video tutorials for contractors, I’m including several shorts (~5 min) from 5min Media, a leading syndication platform for broadband instructional, knowledge and lifestyle videos.

Housing Options: Retirement and Independent Living Communities

Housing Options: Aging-in-Place

How to Choose a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist

Peter Pan housing – for people who won’t get old

Peter PanNPR host Michele Norris explores housing options for America’s aging population in her interview with Jon Pynoos, a professor of gerontology policy and planning at USC. (Listen to the broadcast or read the transcript HERE.)

Pynoos describes the high costs of nursing homes and assisted living facilities and the insurance options that pay for them, including Medicare & Medicaid. He then promotes aging-in-place at home as a much lower-cost option, but most homes were designed for people who aren’t old. He calls them Peter Pan homes. They have stairs, inaccessible bathrooms, and inadequate lighting, and they lack many of the safety features that would help people avoid falls.

“I won’t grow up.    I don’t want to go to school.
Just to learn to be a parrot,    And recite a silly rule.”

To help you assess your home and make modifications, contact a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) or, if you’re in Central Texas, click HERE to learn about our own assessment services.

National Demonstration Home for Universal Design, Part 1

Rosemarie Rossetti

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. (used with permission)

Thirteen years after a freak accident left her paralyzed, Rosemarie found a new mission in life: sharing what she has learned about Universal Design. She founded Universal Design Living Laboratory and is building a national demonstration home that will be opened to the public this fall. I’ll be writing a series of articles about her project and start with this, her story.

About The Demonstration Home Project

My Story

By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

On June 13, 1998 my husband, Mark Leder, and I decided to celebrate our anniversary by going on a bicycle ride. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky, perfect biking weather. I was riding down the path ahead of Mark, when he heard a loud crack and yelled, “Look over there something is falling!” I glanced back at him and suddenly a 3 1/2 ton tree came crushing down on me, leaving me injured on the bike path. My life was changed in that instant! I was paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury.

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MIT Assistive Technology: Universal Access

This video and the following text are from YouTube, where it was uploaded by on Jul 31, 2011

MIT’s Assistive Technology Group is actively working towards implementing state-of-the-art solutions in order to make cutting-edge technology accessible to those who need it the most. The team develops low-cost and robust methods of plugging in any adaptive switch to fully access all software, apps, and functions on Windows computers and Android-based smartphones and tablets. These platforms, once unlocked, have the potential of becoming the ultimate assistive devices, allowing single switch access to a world of communication, environmental control, healthcare, entertainment, and other applications.

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Have you Boomer-proofed your Home?

Should you downsize your home?Your kids have grown, and they left you empty nested. You no longer need that big house and may have already considered downsizing. 77% of boomers have, considered it at least. But have you done anything about it? Less than 29% have a strategy for downsizing or modifying their home for aging in place.

Face it; you too are getting older, one day or one year at a time. You need to start planning for retirement, sometime. But like many boomers, you hate planning. Maybe it’s because you still feel young. Is that why you still don’t have a will or don’t manage your investments actively? Are you one of those people who don’t even open their 401k statements?

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An iPad for All Ages

No computer skills required … and now no computer either


iPad for the Ages - from Toddlers to Seniors

Flickr photo credits: Toddler by, Senior by Courosa, licensed under Creative Commons


Everyone says the Apple iPad is intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to use. It almost seems tailored to toddlers and seductive to seniors. Grandparents and great grandparents with no prior computer experience can reconnect with family and make new friends online with email, social media, and video conferencing. But as easy and seductive as  iPad is, it still required a PC or Mac in order to download or upgrade its software. Not any more. Apple changed that last week with its iCloud announcement and its latest iOS 5 operating system.

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