Tag Archives: Aging In Place Design

Disabled Customers: Country

Disabled Customers Find Great Service in the Country

Nothing beats a country store that believes in old fashioned southern hospitality to graciously meet the needs of their disabled customers.

We’ve been driving out to A.W. Peterson Gun Store and Museum for a few  decades for repairs and fresh air.  Hunters, outdoor men, law enforcement, veterans, cowboys, and collectors have been going to this small country business for generations.  Mr. Baker opened the 118-year-old business in Mount Dora in 1953.  We were told that parts of the old pecky cypress building are from the 1890s.

Disabled customers appreciate a ramp and friendly service. A welcoming front porch for ALL. Disability Smart Solutions.
Disabled customers appreciate a ramp and friendly service. A welcoming front porch for ALL. Disability Smart Solutions.

While the handicap ramp and sand parking lot might not meet the current code, it is sturdy and meets the needs of most disabled customers.  Inside the store, the well-worn wooden floors are smooth and the aisles are all wide enough for disabled customers to easily maneuver a wheelchair or scooter.  It’s been a few years since my last visit, but this time, I noticed that the aisles are now clear of any protrusions, making it comfortable for disabled customers with limited visibility.

The store is a comfortable place to shop or just to just  check out all of the old hunting trophies and vintage collectibles.  I always appreciate a store with plenty of places to sit.  Many times disabled customers might want to sit for a few minutes and relax before continuing shopping.  We often forget how many people living with a disability have limited stamina or muscle strength.

Bella, an Australian Kelpie who is a Deaf Alert Service dog, chilling in the grass. Disability Smart Solutions
Bella, an Australian Kelpie who is a Deaf Alert Service dog, chilling in the grass

I took advantage of the porch chairs to work on “sit” training with our service dog, Bella.  She was our daughters Deaf Alert dog.  Since our daughter has been in boarding school for the past 3 years, Bella has become a lazy pet.  We spent 20 minutes sitting on the porch without her moving to acknowledge people who walked in and out of the store.  She remembered.  Disabled customers with service dogs are welcome in Peterson’s.  I brought in Bella, without a vest, and all I heard was “what a pretty dog.”

The best part about A.W. Peterson’s gunsmith, is that he is honest and if he can fix it while you wait, he will.  My husband brought a jammed French collectible firearm to a Big Box sports store in Lake Mary.  After a two week wait, he was charged $69.00 and told that they couldn’t fix the problem.  The gunsmith at Petersons, spent some time examining it and discovered that there was old lint compacted in the barrel.  He charged $30 and spent  less than 30 minutes making the repair.  Nothing beats a great customer service experience, except a great customer service experience with a trip to the country.


Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

Universal Design or ADA?

The Difference between Universal Design and the ADA

Universal Design,  What is it?

Lumigrids, Universal Design grid light projection defines the surface ahead for safe passage

Universal design makes products, houses, buildings and spaces easier, safer and more user-friendly for the widest range of people.

Disability Smart Solutions consults with manufacturers and inventors of universal design products.  We often recommend universal design solutions in our ADA Accessibility Surveys and Compliance Reports.   Please contact us to  review your product.

Lumigrids are a great example of a product that solves a problem that young able-bodied people often don’t think about.  The small mounted grid light projects a path on the ground ahead showing the location of any uneven surfaces.  This example of a universal design tool shows a man riding a bicycle at night.  The light becomes an accessibility product when mounted to the front of a walker or wheelchair.  The grid can aid people with limited visibility or create a safe path to follow at night.  Inventions and ideas like this that might have initially been invented for military use, are part of Universal design.

SeeSaw bathtub
The Flume ‘See-saw’ Tub for the physically disabled. Designers: Kim Jung Su, Yoon Ji Soo, and Kim Dong Hwan.

Universal Design evolved from accessible design to address needs not covered by the ADA, American Disabilities Act.

Universal Design recognizes a wider spectrum of abilities, to create things that are easier for everyone to use.

Universal Design includes the full spectrum of human motion.


LED faucet
Sweet LED faucet lights for kitchen or bathroom Blue light changes red when water heats up


Universal Design applies to any product that ranging from appliances to cars, to door handles, to hair brushes, to smartphones.

Universal Design applies to any type of architecture, including homes, public and commercial buildings.

key turner
The Key Turner promotes better grip and turning leverage when using a key. Those with arthritis or carpal tunnel will find the key an extremely useful tool. The Key Turner’s handle has two large finger holes for increased maneuverability.

Universal Design for homes helps older adults with Aging In Place products and spaces that are easier and safer to use.

Universal Design for housing, provides accessible design standards that are not included in CODE. Universal Design can apply to the community at large through urban planning, public transit, and New Urbanism.

What is the difference between Universal Design and the Americans with Disabilities Act?

  • The ADA,  Americans with Disabilities Act is legislation.
  • The ADA includes the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which are the minimum requirements for accessible buildings and facilities.
  • Universal Design is not a regulation.
  • The ADA focuses on protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.
  • UDkitchen2
    Universal design kitchen for a wheelchair user. Elevating sink, dishwasher drawer, microwave drawer, easy reach electrical outlets and lowered surfaces.

    Universal Design suggests best design practices to  meet the needs of a wide range of people.

  • The ADA does not apply to single-family housing.


ELIO Illuma Grip LED Grab Bars
ELIO Illuma Grip LED Grab Bars
  • Universal Design for housing brings accessibility  features to single family homes and commercial buildings.

Please share your Universal Design products with us.

Universal Design consultations and product reviews are available by our accessibility experts.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits

Universal Design, Tips for Aging In Place in Your Own Home

Senior Housing
Plan now for your future by incorporating Universal Design and Ageing-In-Place ideas into your home

How does Universal Design help people  Age-In- Place in their own home?

At the beginning of the 21st century, those aged 65 or over made up five per cent of the population, in 20 years’ time, this proportion will rise to around 18 million, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Across the globe the number of those aged over 60 will nearly triple by 2050, rising to 2.4 billion, up from 894 million in 2010.

Universal Design is the principle of designing spaces for maximum usability for  people living with disabilities, of varying size or limited mobility.  There are no specific codes for Universal Design.  There are suggestions. Universal design is not law, it is a way of viewing how things work in our world.  These design principles compensate for a reduced range of motion, reduced sight, reduced sound and reduced strength.  Many universal design inventions were originally developed for military use.

Universal design solutions make life easier for people  with mobility, agility, balance and coordination differences.   Successful universal design creates a barrier-free living environment.

Since no two individuals are alike, no code solves every situation.  Everyone needs to be their own advocate for their individual abilities and aging in place.  Homes must be designed for the individual user’s unique capabilities.  There is no “one size fits all” solution. Children grow and adults change.

Consider designing  your next home with the future in mind. When selecting a designer for a home where you intend to “Age-In-Place,” find one who listens to YOU.   There are many CAPS certified designers and builders, but not all of them are looking at the individual’s needs. Explore options and solutions.  Create a design that gives you maximum ability within the constraints of your budget.   Strive for safety.  When people feel safe in their home, they gain self-confidence and increase independence.

Design Smart Solutions, with over 30+ years in the architectural design industry,  knows that great design solutions are limitless.

What is the Difference between Universal Design and ADA, the American Disabilities Act?

The American Disabilities Act provides legal guidelines for designing public buildings and space that accommodate the disabled.  The guidelines are a minimum standard based on the general population.

Universal Kitchen DesignUniversal Design is not law.  It is a free-thinking way of creating design solutions to address individual challenges. Universal Design and Ease Of Use design decisions can ease the transition as we age or suffer from injuries affecting our mobility.

None of us want to admit that someday we will be old and our bodies will not be as quick, our eyes not as focused and our reflexes not as sharp.  The home we live in and our reaction to it will change.

Our homes will either enhance our ability to live by our own choices or force us to move.  By planning ahead during construction, with a few Universal Design tips, we can all extend the time we remain in our own homes.

Doors, Windows and Hallways, Universal Design Tips

  1. Have a covered outdoor entryway.
  2. Allow space for a future ramp.
  3. Minimize the front threshold.
  4. Make sure that there is at least one step-free entry into the home with easy access to the driveway
  5. Install 3′-0″ wide doors with lever door knobs throughout the house.
  6. Do not block doorways.
  7. Consider a 3′-0″ out-swinging or 6′-0″ sliding glass exterior door in a downstairs Accessible Guest Suite for easy emergency medical support access.
  8. Consider 3′-0″ pocketing doors or 6′-0″ bi-pass doors on closets.
  9. Make all Hallways a minimum of 5′-0″ wide and use the extra space for bookshelves, a computer desk, or display furniture until a time when you need the additional access space.
  10. Make sure that windows are easy to open and easy to lock.
  11. Install towel bars that are rated as pull bars.
  12. Install 48″ high robe hook and towel bars near the shower.
  13. Consider towel bars that are also grab bars.
  14. Install a shower curtain rod or create an open shower area.  Avoid tight glass shower enclosures.
  15. Create a shower without a step.
  16. Install a comfortable seat in the shower.
  17. Install soap and shampoo niches near the shower seat.
  18. Install a hand held shower that mounts on a slide bar.
  19. Consider installing a blow drying machine to dry your entire body.
  20. Check the size of a step in bath tub with the door that closes after you enter the tub.  Many people do not like having to sit in the tub while it fills and then again while it drains.
  21. Add an instant hot water heater by your bathroom.
  22. Install lever faucets at sinks with pull out sprayers.
  23. Consider a heat lamp if you chill easily.
  24. Consider radiant floors for heat
  25. Add a large linen closet with a 3′-0″ wide door in the bathroom for large towels and personal products.

First Floor Guest Suite, Universal Design


  1. If you sleep upstairs, design a first floor Guest Suite large enoughIMG_4274 for a full size bed, large chair and dresser with a minimum of 4′-0″ clear on all sides and 5′-0″ clear on the closet side, exit door side and direct access to a 3 foot wide pocketing  bathroom door.
  2. The bathroom with this suite should be accessible.
  3. The entrance to this bedroom should be easily accessible for medical personnel.

Bathrooms, Universal Design

  1. Have the Builder put wood bracing behind the drywall and tile in
    Aging In Place and Universal Design Solutions for Homes
    Aging In Place and Universal Design Solutions for Homes

    the bathroom walls for future grab bar locations.

  2. On the first floor, have a roll-in curbless  shower without a step or lip (slope floor to drain in at least one bathroom).
  3. This shower should be a minimum of 5′-0″ wide by 4′-0″ deep.
  4. This shower could be located near a Guest Suite or used as the Pool Bath.
  5. Consider multiple shower heads.
  6. Have a hand held shower head mounted on a slide bar, with a separate valve to control it from a seated position.
  7. Install lever faucets in this bathroom and an adjustable handheld shower head.  Do the closed fist test, by seeing if you can turn the water on and off with a closed fist.
  8. Provide a toilet in the same bathroom with a 3′-0″ clear empty space next to it for transferring.
  9. Install comfort level toilets.
  10. Install a bidet if you have space.
  11. Consider a water wand at the toilet if there is no room for a bidet.

 Floors, Steps and Stairs, Universal Design

  1. Select slip-resistant flooring that is comfortable.Solar Step Lights
  2. Limit stairs.  Design stairs wide enough to fit a future chair lift.
  3. Consider building a 5 x 5 closet on the first floor with a 5 x 5 closet above, for a future elevator.
  4. Minimize changes in floor level throughout the home and outdoor spaces.
  5. Anywhere that there is a step-down, select two different colors of flooring material.
  6. Minimize any step down to the garage.  Provide enough clear floor space for a future ramp.
  7. Make sure that there is adequate space in the garage to maneuver a wheelchair with an assistant around a parked vehicle.
  8. Add extra lighting to the Garage for maximum visibility.
  9. If you need to walk through a Laundry Room to access the garage, make sure that it is large enough for both a wheelchair to turn around in and clothes hampers on the floor.

Lighting and Electrical, Universal Design

  1. Automate Lighting Systems.DSSoutlets
  2. Maximize natural light.
  3. Locate extra security system and lighting controls in the rooms where you plan to spend most of your time.
  4. Install adequate lighting throughout the home for safety and visibility.
  5. Locate electrical service boxes, security boxes, main water disconnect valve and any system controls that you might need to access in an emergency, where they can be comfortably reached from a sitting position. 42″ to 48″ off of the floor.
  6. Make sure that the thermostat is not higher than 48″ off the floor.
  7. Make sure that electrical outlets are 18″ to 24″ off of the floor.
  8. Make sure that all switches are easy to reach from a seated position.
  9. Consider easy touch lighting and electrical switches.
  10. Install task lighting in all areas.
  11. Make sure that kitchen some electrical outlets can be reached from a seated position.
  12. install flood lights on all corners of the outside of the house.  Have them on timers.

Kitchen & Laundry, Universal Design

  1. Create work areas in the kitchen. Accessible Microwave Oven
  2. Install pull out racks and drawers in base cabinets.
  3. Keep everyday storage at waist level.
  4. Install dishwasher drawers.
  5. Add a 9″ high kick plate under a standard size dishwasher.
  6. Install a Microwave drawer.
  7. Add under counter safety lighting.
  8. Bring outlets to the front of the cabinets for easy reach.
  9. Leave a minimum of 48″ clearance between surfaces in kitchen aisles.
  10. Buy a front-loading washer and dryer set and mount them on a Accessible Laundry Roompedestal.
  11. Consider an adjustable height sink that raises and lowers at the push of a button.
  12. Consider an adjustable height range that raises and lowers at the push of a button.
  13. Buy a side by side refrigerator freezer.
  14. Provide a pull out shelf below a wall oven door
  15. Use “D” shape cabinet pull handles.
  16. Have multi-level countertops for different tasks.
  17. Use light colored countertops to make items easier to see.
  18. Use easy slide and close drawers.
  19. Use a 3′-0″ pocket door on the pantry.
  20. Mount wall ovens at a height where they can be reached from a seated position.
  21. Add an instant hot water faucet at the sink.
  22. Install a pull out flexible faucet at the kitchen sink and laundry sink.
  23. Select  lever faucets.
  24. Locate the faucets to the side of the sink for easier reach.
  25. Put lockable caster wheels on a kitchen island for flexible space.

We are team builders. Disability Smart Solutions has the knowledge, innovation, imagination and collaborative partners to create successful inclusive solutions. Please call us if you have any Universal Design questions, require assistance with universal design or would like us to speak about Universal Design and Aging In Place at your event. Please contact us to enhance your employee and customer engagement with both the aging and disabled populations.


  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits