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"Universal Design for Barrier-Free Living"

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"Universal Design for Barrier-Free Living," a term that I coined and copyrighted several years ago, refers to design that is usable by as many people as possible, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Why universal design?

The "average" person in the U.S. is six feet tall, 165 pounds, male, with normal physical ability and dexterity. That profile fits a very small minority of people. Yet, that's who the "average" house is designed for. Most people don't fit into that category and may require special features that make usability for them more practical.

"Barrier-Free Living" refers to the ability of people with physical disabilities to live as normally as possible without the interference of architectural barriers. These barriers impede a user's ability to move about freely or use a particular item without assistance. Combining universal design with barrier-free living allows people of normal ability and those who have any number of disabilities to be able to live as normal a life as possible by incorporating sensible design and features that make living easier than if the design did not include these features.

These features might include traffic areas and rooms that have no steps, wider hallways and doors, ramps, easily operable windows, reachable appliances, electrical outlets and switches, movable shelves, automatic devices and sensors and more.

If you or a family member has a special need or would simply like more information on "Universal Design for Barrier-Free Living," please call our office. Consultation is free.


"The Bridgewater" is a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath universally designed home. Everything on the first storey is barrier-free, including the master suite, kitchen and laundry center. The garage is designed with an eight-foot high overhead door and is wider than a typical one-car garage to accomodate a wheelchair van.

There are two bedrooms and a full bath on the second storey. The home is 38 feet wide and will fit on a 50-foot wide urban lot in most cities and is designed primarily for urban living.

The design can be modified to suit specific needs.


The "Laventine Classic" is a 3-bedroom, 3-bath, one-storey single-family residence with a 3-vehicle attached "carriage house" with an 8-foot high overhead door to accomodate a wheelchair van. It has a flexible kitchen, gathering area, laundry room, service porch, privacy garden and spacious living areas. This medium-sized home is 80 feet wide by 68 feet deep and will fit on a 120' x 120' lot in most urban areas. It contains 2,909 square feet of living area and has 12-foot high ceilings in most parts of the home. It is the winner of the 1998 "Home Showcase Design Award" sponsored by "Enable" magazine and North Carolina State University.


The "Chatsworth" is a home designed for families that need plenty of room. It has four bedrooms, three full baths, a pool powder room and an attached three-vehicle "carriage house" with an 8-foot high overhead door to accomodate a wheelchair van and plenty of open living area.
The home is 84 feet wide by 69 feet deep and contains 3,983 square feet of heated/cooled living area. The second storey contains the fourth bedroom and third bath with a loft room that can be used as a playroom, billiards room, den, office or the entire area can be a separate suite for guests, caretakers or inlaws.
The "Chatsworth" is easily accessible on the first storey and is designed for smooth traffic flow and privacy.
(formerly Design Services Unlimited)
Post Office Box 541566
Orlando, Florida 32854-1566 USA
940 North Highland Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32803 USA
Phone: 407-425-1301
Fax: 407-648-1011


1998 Home Showcase Design Award presented to Steve Allen Shard, AIBD for the "Lake Laventine" and "Laventine Classic" models. This award was presented for outstanding achievement in "Universal Design" by "Enable" magazine and the Universal Design Center at North Carolina State University.