Disciplines Dovetail in Pursuit of Universal Design
Nursing & Health Sciences
Faculty & Staff
Two groups of Penn College students - architectural technology majors and those enrolled in occupational therapy assistant - were called together Thursday for a uniquely collaborative discussion about the accessibility of home design. The two-and-a-half-hour seminar not only allowed them to consider ways to accommodate various disabilities in the renovation of existing homes, but to examine how homes could be designed better in the first place. Residential design is not bound by the Americans With Disabilities Act, but is becoming a more prevalent concern due to an aging population and the attendant health/mobility concerns. The students discussed the foresight of features such as zero-step entry; dimensional doors, hallways and counters that anticipate wheelchair use; and other accommodations that would be comparably expensive if added as an afterthought but, if designed properly from the outset, can invisibly add value and accessibility at the time of sale. The seminar was preceded last month by a practical exercise in which architecture students were outfitted by OTA majors with crutches, wheelchairs and blindfolds to get a small taste of what various disabilities are like.