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Designing any product or environment involves the consideration of many factors, including
aesthetics, engineering decisions, environmental issues, industry standards, safety
concerns, and cost. Often, products and environments are designed with an average
user in mind.
The terminology "universal design" was coined by Ronald L. Mace, founder and former
program director of The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University.
In 1997 Ron Mace collaborated with a group of architects, product designers, engineers
and environmental designers to develop the Seven Principles of Universal Design. The
seven principles of universal design are as follows:
The same design features which make a home comfortable for older people also work
for younger families. Aging in place is a viable option for homeowners because by
applying universal design principles in the home transform the home into a multi-generational
living space. A good place to start is with an emphasis on user-friendly products
which also have pleasant aesthetics and are easy to maintain.
It's not too early to start thinking about aging in place. Even homeowners in their
40s are starting to think about aging in place, as they intend to stay in the home
they are currently in through their senior years. It's a good time to begin to start
looking at mobility or other physicals issues which may arise during aging.
Universal design or design for aging in place is a philosophy, a way of thinking,
with no one formula for getting it right.