Universal Design Aims at Graying Boomers

Universal design is a style of home design that includes smooth, stair-less entries to homes; wide hallways and doorways; door handles other than knobs; and easy-to-reach light switches and electrical outlets.

Accessibility to All Rooms

So builders are taking a new tack, emphasizing other needs over those of seniors or the disabled in promoting universal design. In Georgia, it's called the "EasyLiving Home."

"Whether it is strollers, grocery carts, wheelchairs, 330-pound football players or heavy furniture and equipment, all will move easily in an EasyLiving Home," the brochure says.

Interior designer Irma Dobkin in Chevy Chase, Md., knows firsthand the value of having a home that is "visitable" by people with disabilities.

Dobkin's elderly parents told her 20 years ago that they could no longer visit her "magnificent home" because there were too many obstacles for her mother's wheelchair, especially the narrow hallways and tiny bathroom entrances.

"My home demeaned my parents," says Dobkin. "It was such a profound epiphany."

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