Department of Family Services

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-7500 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035
Michael A. Becketts

Universal Design Features

How to Incorporate Universal Design Features into Your Home

There are many reasons to make your home more accessible. Perhaps you have a family member that uses a wheelchair, or elderly parents who visit frequently.

Maybe you just want to make your home work for everyone. Because of universal design, people who are very different can all enjoy the same home. And that home will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs change.

Common Universal Design Features 

No step entry. No one needs to use stairs to get into a universal home or into the home's main rooms. A no step entry can easily and relatively inexpensively be incorporated into any entrance to the home, as long as it is planned for in the design stage of the construction project.

Thresholds that are flush with the floor make it easy for a wheelchair to get through a doorway. They also keep others from tripping. 

Wide doorways, wide hallways and extra floor space. Doorways that are 32-36 inches wide let wheelchairs pass through. They also make it easy to move big things in and out of the house. Hallways should be 36-42 inches wide. That way, everyone and everything moves more easily from room to room. Everyone feel less cramped. And people who use wheelchairs have more space to turn.

Lever door handles and rocker light switches are great for people without full use of their hands. But others like them too. Try using these devices when your arms are full of packages. You'll never go back to knobs or standard switches. 

One-story living. Places to eat, as well as the bathroom and bedroom, are all located on one level that is barrier-free.

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