Universal Design

Subject: Art
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1107
Topics: Design, Anthropology


It is not a surprise to find out that most setting such as schools, hospitals, corporate, and offices do not meet the threshold to accommodate people of different caliber. Facilities and events are created so that all people can use them and benefit from them boundlessly. While most settings do not meet the accommodative threshold, this brings forth the question of universal design in places like academic institutions, areas of work, entertainment joints and even at home. By definition, universal design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed and used to maxima by all people. The term “universal design” was first devised by Ronald L. Mace in the bid to widen the scope of structuring the surrounding to make it aesthetic and usable to everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in society (Null, 2014). 

Every setting must be inclusive to accommodate different people. That being the case, it is imperious to consider and prioritize individuals with low incidence disability in the community we live and socialize in today.  Persons with low incidence disability include those with visual impairments, hearing impairments, autism and other disorders. People celebrate life with enthusiasm when they can overcome barriers in the surrounding. For that reason, low incidence disability personalities are not an exemption (Null, 2014). Hence, this essay will provide a lead to a setting that a person with low incidence disability may visit and by analyzing the context, weigh whether the environment is accessible or not accessible for low incidence disability groups. Concerning the principles of universal design, this paper will also provide rich and logical suggestions of how the setting analyzed can be improved to make it suitable for other disability groups.

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Location that a low incidence disability person may visit

People with low incidence disability require help through inclusion in their day to day activities. While some areas that such people visit may be accessible, other places are not. A home kitchen happens to be one of the spots a low incidence person may visit from time to time. It is impossible to argue that a little incidence individual can survive a lifetime without a single visit to the kitchen. Hence, a home kitchen is one of the places where low incidence individuals may find themselves in. Nowadays, designers of kitchens plan them in a manner in which it is accessible to all people regardless of their age, size, and capability.  In fact, a universally designed kitchen offers inclusion to everyone thus making cooking a fun experience.

Analysis of a primary home kitchen and how it is not accessible to the low incident groups

In this paper, a home kitchen will be analyzed since it is one of the closest facilities to low incidence disability individuals. In a kitchen, sinks, shelves, hot and cold water taps, oven and refrigerators are available. The problem arises if all these items are not universally designed to meet the needs of every person. According to Dalilah (2011), the Universal Design Index especially accessibility, safety, and integrated design should be implemented in every housing unit, and it is necessary to be adopted for adaptive and usable housing features. While a home kitchen may not be entirely inclusive to people with low incidence disabilities, the best solution is making adjustments that are accommodative to low incidence disability individuals. Visually impaired people, intellectually disabled people, those with a physical disability and those with autism disorder may not access a home kitchen at ease. The reason behind this is that family members and close relatives treat them with special care for them to feel loved. Hence no modifications are done to ensure that such people are accommodated maximumly. The drawers may be too high to reach for people with physical disability or even the ground too uncomfortable for them to use. Surface tops that feel the same texture may not be helpful to a visually impaired person. Also, a person with an autism disorder may find colors used in the kitchen unattractive hence making such a person to restrict themselves from using the kitchen ( Crews, 2006). 

As such, the kitchen universal design guidelines can make the kitchen more concrete for kids after school, an elderly, loved one who requires wheelchair accessibility as physical needs change. Notably, most kitchens are not customized to meet the needs of impaired, disabled and people with disability. In that regard, principles of universal design help to evaluate existing designs and guide both designers and users on how they can make the environment more usable to all. Elements of universal design require that a plan must provide privacy, security, and safety equally to all users. Physically challenged persons, for instance, need a more flexible model that can allow them to dine together with other family members. Fixing dining tables on their wheelchairs is a sure way to ensure inclusion. Furthermore, having a spacious kitchen where low incidence individuals can move is the best way to minimize accidents (Zablocki, 2017).  

Suggestions for making a basic kitchen even more accessible for two or more disability groups

It is possible to modify a basic kitchen to be available to all groups of people. This will ensure equitable use of the facility, low physical effort, and flexibility. Standard but broader doors can be selected as they can minimize chances of accidents. Moreover, broader doors can ensure accessible entrance and exit. Steps at entrances of the kitchen can be eliminated to make it more universally usable. Physically challenged individuals may have difficulty in entering a kitchen that is raised with a stepper. Therefore it is necessary to remove steppers so that disability groups do not feel restricted to use the facility. Kitchen designers can also help in making it easier for disability groups to detect the edge of counters and reduces the likelihood of spills. When it is easy for disability groups to detect spills, unnecessary complexities will be avoided. Full height pantry storage with easy access pull- out adjustable shelves can create room at all heights reachable (Null, 2014).


Universal design is a dynamic, resolute adaptation method that people use to adjust the world to their needs. Universal design should be accepted as an approach that values and celebrates human diversity. Society must accept the fact that without a universally designed world, some people may feel less of a human. Therefore, it is right to consider low incidence disability individuals in all institutional facilities. The most important room in a house is the kitchen, and it has to be accessible to everyone since disabled, impaired and people with disorders have the same needs as normal people.

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  1. Beamish, J., Parrott, K., Emmel, J. & Peterson, M. (2013). Kitchen planning : guidelines, codes, standards. Hoboken: Wiley.
  2. Crews, D. E., &Zavotka, S. (2006). Aging, disability, and frailty: implications for universal design. Journal of physiological anthropology25(1), 113-118.
  3. Lewandowska, A., Branowski, B., Joachimiak-Lechman, K., Kurczewski, P., Selech, J., &Zablocki, M. (2017). Sustainable Design: A Case of Environmental and Cost Life Cycle Assessment of a Kitchen Designed for seniors and Disabled People. Sustainability9(8), 1329.
  4. Null, R. (2014). Universal design : principles and models. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
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