These two categories of design certainly overlap, but they are not the same thing. By definition, universal design improves access and function for most people, with respect for differences in ability, size, or age, and as these concepts are tried and found successful, they are adopted into standard practice. For these reasons—that universal design works for most people and that the concepts are embraced as they are used—universal design has been included throughout the book. To the greatest extent possible, you will incorporate universal concepts into every bathroom
you design in order to meet the needs of clients throughout their lifespan and the changes and variety in their physical condition.
In contrast, in some cases, you may be asked to create a bathroom design that responds to the particular requirements of a person with specific characteristics and needs—sometimes going beyond what would be considered universal design. This is accessible design. In response to demand, this chapter will expand on access issues and options, first by citing some of the variations in human factors and abilities that we may be called on to address. We’ll go on to review the centers of the bathroom with a focus on design concepts that can respond to those variations and improve the bathroom experience. Finally, for each center, we will summarize the concepts according to the three categories previously used: sensory, cognitive/perception, and physical characteristics and needs. Where appropriate, concepts will be explored in more depth to broaden your understanding, or additional resources may be mentioned to enable you to go further in accessibility solutions.
The good news is that in the course of creating access solutions, we often find concepts that will work well for many types of people and they can be adopted into universal practice, such as the toilet that was first raised in height to support transfer from a wheelchair, and has been adopted as a comfortable height for those of us who are advancing in the aging process and who find it less comfortable bending low to the traditional height toilet.
A vanity designed to be accessible to a seated user might be lower in height with an open knee space, whereas a universally designed vanity area might have a second lavatory at a higher height for times when standing use is desired or necessary.
• It is an approach that accommodates a wide range of human performance characteristics.
• It is invisible.
• It is attractive.
• It has broad market appeal.
• It is flexible for ease of use with respect for the natural diversity in people.
• It responds to the particular requirements of a person with specific characteristics and needs.
• While it can be attractive, it targets a narrow audience.