Re: Universal Design means UNIVERSAL design
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 10:51:03 -0600 (MDT)
On 6/26/2003 11:50 AM, "Fred H Olson" <fholson [at]> wrote:

> As far as I know, there is no co-housing community that is designed using
> universal design as  defined above.  Anyone know of one?

Our commonhouse is and most of the units are. Of 43 units we have several
with interior stairs and/or exterior stairs, but over half are either ground
level (no threshold) or accessed by elevator elevator. Only three (?) have
porch stairs but could be converted to ramps. All units have extra wide
doors on bathrooms, big bathrooms, etc. All our light switches are low. Good
lighting (too much actually). All the curbs have cutouts. We have several
handicapped parking spots as near to the building as possible.

During construction some accessible options were messed up by the contractor
and have to be corrected. The path to the hot tub, for example, may be too
steep for easy wheelchair access (I don't think it has been tested yet). A
kiosk was placed on the entry with a ramp instead of by the stairs. Wheels
can still get by but not as easily as designed.

Acoustics is a problem, particularly for hearing impaired, but we are
working on that.

We have not solved the problem of dumpsters for those using wheels or for
children. We did manage to get dumpsters that are 4 ft high instead of 5.
The lids are still too heavy at that awkward height. You have to hold them
up and swing a big bag of trash in. At 5'5", I started using smaller bags.
The dumpsters with the side openings (very nice idea) were impossible to
open after rust set in (about 2 weeks in humid DC).

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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