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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

Universal Design supports Sustainable Communities

Sustainable communities foster quality of life for all residents -- and universal design balances human interactions, and our interaction with the natural world.

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Design for Aging Populations and Sustainable Communities

The aging of the population is propelling issues of accessibility to the forefront of local and national consciousness. Approximately 9.7% (964,000) residents of Los Angeles County (Population 9,937,739 per the 2000 census) are 65 years and older.

Universal Design

"Universal Design" is a broad, comprehensive "design-for-all" approach to the development of products, architecture, and environments around human diversity.

Universal design is part of sustainable community living. Whether short, tall, slow, high-energy, using assistive technologies...such as eye glasses or wheelchairs -- it's very possible that EVERY member of a community depends on some form of universal design to smooth their day.

Focusing on the widest range of people, in the widest range of situations, universal design incorporates the best of living in buildings, neighborhoods, parks, and our own backyards. Collaborative design teams help broaden design strategies from the inception through completion. Choice of dimensions, scale, colors, mechanisms, workspace, community space, restful space...the choices are endless. No one space can take everything into consideration, but every space can make live more livable -- more sustainable.

Seven Principles of Universal Design

The seven principles of universal design are:

One - Equitable Use
Two - Flexibility in Use
Three - Simple and Intuitive
Four - Perceptible Information
Five - Tolerance for Error
Six - Low Physical Effort
Seven - Size and Space for Approach and Use

(These Principles of Universal Design address only universally usable design, while the practice of design involves more than consideration for usability. Designers must also incorporate other considerations such as economic, engineering, cultural, gender, and environmental concerns in their design processes.)

The goal of ACCESS is core to Universal Design.

California is World Leader in Accessibility

California is recognized as a world leader in accessibility. We have provided a world-class example of what can be done, and shown that the outcome is a positive one for all of us. People love California partly because it's a "no-problem" place to visit or live — where families need not worry about barriers to people with disabilities.

The California State Architect provides oversight design and construction of K-12 schools and community colleges. In addition, this office provides access compliance services for state-funded consruction, and develops accessibility standards and codes used in public and private buildings throughout California. Historical Building Codes are also managed.


California State Architect The Division of the State Architect (DSA) acts as California's policy leader for building design and construction.

The Center for Universal Design
The Center for Universal Design (CUD) is a national information, technical assistance, and research center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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