Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Orlando IBS Kicks-Off With Universal Design Class"

As the Orlando IBS and KBIS gets ready to kickoff its great three-day run of world-class exhibits and education, a few University of Housing education courses were held today. More will be held tomorrow and Monday as well.

The class that I am excited to be providing as an instructor is the two-day Universal Design/Build. This class is not a replacement for any of the CAPS coursework, but it is a great add-on and supplement. While taking any or all of the CAPS classes is not - be easily could be - a prerequisite for taking the Universal Design/Build course, those who have completed the CAPS classes will be able to apply what they have learned more easily than hearing and seeing some of the examples out-of-context.

Universal design is a very strong concept that has its roots in creating safe, accessible, comfortable, and convenient design - all quite appropriate in an aging in place home also, regardless of any limitations that might exist.

While universal design is not needs-based the way that many aging in place solutions are, creating such features in and around a home (let's not forget the exterior - front, side, and back yards) provide a high-quality lifestyle for the home's occupants.

People with a design, architecture, building, remodeling, real estate, health care, building materials and components, home inspection, insurance, trade contracting, or many other backgrounds will find this material helpful and will immediately connect with it in way that translates to clients that can immediately benefit from such treatments.

In an early part of the textbook, universal design is said to work well for people because we aren't just dealing with people with physical limitations or disabilities, nor are we dealing necessarily with people that don't have such conditions. Rather, we are designing for and appealing to people with varying degrees of ability and disability. Over time, we all likely can identify with periods - possibly brief - where physical limitations have necessitated a change in routine or the way we went about living in or using part of our home. Universal design takes this into account in advance and makes a smooth, seamless transition possible from ability to a temporary or longer-term disability. 

Regardless of how we interface with people as they want to continue living in their homes long-term as they age, or if they just want them to be more functional and effective now whether they stay in them or not, universal design is a great tool to employ.

Universal design is the least common denominator. It reduces function to the point that everyone in the home should be able to use a particular appliance, fixture, switch, or design.

This is a great course to take at IBS/KBIS because so many exhibitors will be displaying product that is used to illustrate universal design solutions. There's nothing like being able to see and touch the actual object as opposed to a picture of it. While it's too late to take this course offering, there are several more scheduled during 2107, including next week (January 19-20 in West Palm Beach). Check the website for additional offerings and locations as they are announced and posted.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.