Design for All

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ASID Position

ASID recognizes that designing interior environments that are accessible and enjoyable by any and all occupants and that support their well-being, health, safety and productivity, regardless of age or ability, should be an essential part of the interior designer's professional responsibilities.  ASID acknowledges that interior design for all embraces the following concepts:

  • Accessible and barrier-free design
  • Universal design
  • Lifespan design and design for aging in place
  • Design for independent living
  • Adaptable design
  • Visitability

Action Sought

ASID believes that the leadership of federal, state and local governments is integral to achieving full and universal accessibility in this country.  The Society supports the adoption of visitability ordinances as well as the use of tax credits and other incentives to upgrade and retrofit the current building stock and to encourage builders to adopt standards that integrate universal and accessible design principles into new construction, such as the EasyLiving Home™ program.

ASID endorses the following principles of universal design:

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture or mobility.

ASID believes that interior designers should endeavor to, whenever feasible, practice design for all.  Interior designers should be mindful that their designs do not impede or exclude current or future occupants of the space as intended to be used.

Explanation and Justification

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 50 million Americans, age six and older, report having some level of disability.  Over one-third of the elderly population, age 65 and older, experiences some limitation in activities of daily living.  By mid-century, when the population age 65 and older is projected to reach nearly 87 million, about one in four Americans will have some level of disability.  The Americans with Disabilities Act contains some guidelines for interior environments.  It is a good foundation but is not sufficient to address the full range of disability issues and accessibility issues.  It does not address residential construction and design, and it does not address the needs of the elderly.

Moreover, the cost of medical care, a shortage of qualified caregivers and an inadequate supply of assisted living facilities and other facilities to provide care and housing for seniors who are unable to care for themselves are all problems our country faces in the near future.  Aging in place helps to address these issues by making homes safer and (with technical monitoring) helping to avoid or substantially reduce acute health care costs.  Better designed, more erognomic environments make caregiving more palatable and safer for paid as well as family and informal caregivers.  The whole aging in place system, of which design is just one part, will help lower the cost of providing care and managing care in the community, which will help to contain Medicare and Medicaid costs as we approach a much less favorable worker-to-retiree ratio in the economy with the aging of the baby boom generation.

In addition, design for all contributes to sustainability and community infrastructure by making good use of existing housing stock while helping to assure the upkeep of homes and the preservation of neighborhoods.