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Enabling Products Sourcebook 2 By the ProMatura Group


I. Introduction

II. Product Selection Criteria

III. Kitchen

  • Cooktops
  • Ranges
  • Ovens
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Refrigerators
  • Dishwashers
  • Disposals
  • Cabinets
  • Storage and Cabinet Organizers
  • Automated Cabinet Systems
  • Sinks


IV. Bathroom

  • Bath Lifts
  • Bathing Systems
  • Combination Tub and Shower Units
  • Grab Bars
  • Showers
  • Shower Doors
  • Shower Seats
  • Bath Boards
  • Toilets
  • Toilet Support Systems
  • Lavatories
  • and Showers Sprayers and Shower Heads
  • Faucets


V. Laundry

  • Washers
  • Dryers


VI. Changing Elevations

  • Ramps
  • Elevators
  • Stairway Lifts
  • Platform Lifts


VII. Entry, Exit and Passages

  • Keyless Entry Systems
  • Locksets
  • Door Openers


VIII. Public Accommodations Products

  • Automatic Doors
  • Lighting
  • Flooring
  • Detectable Warnings
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Assistive Devices
  • Restroom Accessories
  • Custom Signage
  • Handicap Parking Signs
  • Furnishings


IX. Index


Purpose of Book

Enabling Products Sourcebook 2 is designed to help create more livable environments. Our world contains too many natural, unchangeable obstacles for people to continue struggling with simple activities of daily life in their homes. Yet, products for the home environment continue to be designed without regard for the wide variety of humans who will use them. Products and homes designed without regard for variables of the human condition impede the user.

If a product or environment is not designed so that the user can really use it, then it is disabling. Although medical science has seen incredible gains, it is unable to transform everyone into the same size, shape and ability. Products and technology, on the other hand, offer almost limitless flexibility and adaptability. When all products and environments are universally designed, there will be fewer people who are disabled.

Enabling Products Sourcebook 2 is a tool. It is designed to do two things:

  1. To assist professionals in selecting products for environments by identifying those that are easier to use by larger numbers of people for longer periods of time.
  2. To provide professionals with objective, useful criteria to use when selecting products.


The products in this book were selected because they have design features that are likely to make them easier to use than other products. These products are not necessarily intended for exclusive use by individuals with disabilities or functional limitations. Many, intentionally or unintentionally, make the environment easier to use for people of differing ages, sizes, strength and abilities.

Universal Design

This book was compiled to help promote products that begin to address the concepts of Universal Design. Universal Design is a concept, a process, a language, a way of thinking that leads to better living. Universal Design principles are founded on the belief that products should be developed to address the diversity of capabilities among probable users. And, the recognition that these capabilities are likely to change gradually over time, or perhaps abruptly in an unexpected incident.

Universal Design embraces the following.

U usable and useful

  • The products are designed so that the user is capable of using them.
  • The products are designed so that they are useful and perform the intended function, simply and expediently.


N neutral

  • The products do not demand right or left-handed performance


I inclusive

  • The products are built to include a broader population of users. They are built on analyses of human factors data that seek the ranges of abilities common among people of differing sizes and abilities.


V visible

  • The products are designed to provide clear, visible clues as to how they are to be used.


E elegant

  • Whether simple or elaborate, a necessity for everyday living or a convenience, the product is aesthetically pleasing.


R redundant

  • The product is designed to provide redundant cues to the user. Acoustic signals are accompanied by visual displays. Tactile feedback is provided as well.


S simple

  • The product is simple. Features and functions are added that are appropriate and enhance use. Controls, ornamentation and useless embellishments are avoided.


A accessible, adaptable, and adjustable

  • The product is accessible to individuals of varying abilities.
  • The product is designed to be adapted for those whose abilities fall beyond the ranges of practical design considerations.
  • The product is designed to adjust.


L logical

  • The product is built purposefully. Each component and feature, its placement and function are formed because they are consistent with the expected.


Benefits and Limitations of Enabling Products: A Sourcebook 2

This book is needed because our population is becoming increasingly diverse. Large numbers of people are living to a very old age. Our health consciousness and quality of life have created a new species of athletes that are taller and stronger than ever before. Meanwhile, modern medicine has enabled individuals who would not have survived just a decade ago, to live. This same society has produced a nation where more than one-third of the adults are overweight.

This book is intended for anyone whose objective is to create livable space. It will be particularly useful to kitchen and bathroom designers, interior designers, industrial designers, architects and specifiers.

Understanding the criteria for good product design is important because they apply to other products and environments not included in this book. The design (or selection) criteria described in this book are applicable to the selection of products contained herein, as well as products identified in other sources.

The benefits of this book are that it identifies several key available products that are easier to use than other products; it will save time and effort; and it provides criteria that may be applied when reviewing products not included in these pages. The more of these criteria a product or design meets, the more likely a wide variety of end-users will be enabled to use it.

A limitation of this book is that manufacturers regularly change their product offerings. New product models continually replace old models. Some good products will likely be discontinued. The reader is encouraged to apply the criteria outlined in this book when looking at the new models, and to inform manufacturers that these criteria are important.

The second limitation of this book is that we were not able to evaluate every product. Although each product selected for inclusion was reviewed, end-user testing was not possible. Testing products with individuals who are the frailest and least able identifies design flaws that are inconvenient or a nuisance for the most capable individuals, while disabling for those with diminished capacities. Without the opportunity to evaluate these products, the universality of every product cannot be ensured.

The third limitation of Enabling Products Sourcebook 2 is that it includes products that begin to meet the criteria of good universal design. Virtually every product within these pages, however, could and should be improved.

An exhaustive search for products and product information was carried out in the compilation of this work. However, creating an all-inclusive work in a business environment that changes daily is impossible.

Organization of Book

Enabling Products Sourcebook 2 is divided into six sections, which are further divided into sub-sections containing specific product and company information. The sections include: Kitchen; Bathroom; Laundry; Changing Elevation; Entry, Exit and Passages; and Public Accommodation Products. The Locksets subsection (pages 147-149) does not include product descriptions or colors, because such information would be superfluous. In addition, the following Public Accommodation Products sub-sections do not contain product descriptions, model numbers or colors: Restroom Accessories, Custom Signage, Handicap Parking Signs and Furnishings. Product information that was not available is denoted "NA", in all other sub-sections.

The three major components of the book are product selection criteria, product listings and the index. The criteria should be reviewed when selecting products from this book or other sources. Products are organized within the sections provided in the table of contents. The index should be used to quickly identify the location of product categories, products or specific manufacturers.

Product Selection Criteria


We recommend a "head-to-toe" evaluation of all products. That is, the products that are best are those that accommodate the variations in human abilities from the differences in the way that they think (head) to the differences in the way that they stand or walk (feet).

Few products available, however, have been designed from this perspective. The criteria described in this section are broad and numerous and may not be applicable to every product. The reader should select the criteria important for the safe and effective use of the product, and then develop a checklist of those criteria the product must meet as well as those that would be beneficial but not necessary.

The head-to-toe evaluation is an effective way to remember the important criteria for selecting a product and for ensuring the selection criteria are comprehensive. The selection criteria described in this section are listed in order -- from head-to-toe.

The Head

The human head is responsible for several interfaces with each product. The functions include: cognition, vision, audition and olfaction.


The user must be able to recognize the component, understand its purpose and actuate its function. A well-designed product will meet the following criteria.

  1. The function of the product and each feature should be self explanatory.
    1. A latch or lock to hold a component closed should look like a latch or lock.
    2. A knob that is to be rotated should look like a knob that should be rotated.
    3. The purpose of each component and control should be apparent. If you must read a manual to determine the purpose for a component or control it is not designed well.

  2. The controls should be arranged logically and sequentially.
    1. The placement of controls should be such that the first control the user is drawn to, is the first step or function to be accessed on the product.
    2. The controls should be ordered logically. Depending on function they should follow the convention of left to right, and top to bottom.
    3. Controls should be visible.
    4. Controls should be in an accessible location: up front instead of in back or underneath.

  3. Functions of controls should be understood easily.
    1. Words should be used to describe controls in addition to icons, symbols or color coding.
    2. Colors used on controls should relate to the function of the control.
    3. Icons or pictographs should be obvious and should be accompanied by the word describing the message. For example, many people do not understand that o and | are Off and On.

  4. The user should not be required to memorize a sequence of steps to be able to use the product. If there are multiple steps to proper set-up, operation and shut-down of a product, the instructions or guide should be placed prominently on the product.

  5. Products that are dangerous for individuals with reduced cognition should be designed with "lock-out" features.


For example, a cooktop may be dangerous if used by a family member with Alzheimer's Disease or a young child. The well-designed cooktop will include a feature that will allow a user to disable the potentially harmful controls or functions.


To the greatest extent possible, the product should be designed so that it may be used safely and effectively without requiring the user to see. All elements on the product should be designed to be legible by individuals with reduced visual capabilities who may be using the product in adverse lighting conditions.

  1. All functions that have visual output should be accompanied by audible and/or tactile output. For example, if a function changes the level of a number that is visible as a control is actuated, the device should also emit an audible beep with each critical increment of the control. In addition, the actuator should provide a reference point (off) and tactile indication as each critical increment is surpassed.

  2. The surface of the product should have a non-glare finish in areas where vision is required.

  3. All graphics, signage, coding on the products should be legible under adverse viewing conditions.
    1. The print and symbols should be in a color contrasting with the background. The best contrast is achieved with white and black, or yellow and black.
    2. Print and symbols should be located where they can be seen from differing angles.
    3. Graphics or lettering should be large (3/16 to 4/16 inches or larger).
    4. Letters should be sans serif type, and both upper and lower case should be used.

  4. Use of colors as indicators should be purposeful and visible.

  5. Indicator lights should relate directly to the function they control.
    1. Visible from different angles.
    2. Visible in varying and/or adverse lighting conditions. Visibility of some indicator lights are flooded out by bright lights. Adjustment for this should be included.

  6. An integral light source should be included where vision is required for safe operation.

  7. Raised lettering should be used where possible.

  8. Where audible and tactile cues are not feasible, the product should accommodate Braille overlays on functions requiring vision.



Acoustic signals produced by the product should be audible under conditions of varying background noise levels.

  1. The frequency range of non-speech signals should be in a region not likely to be occupied by typical background sounds. This frequency region is likely to be above 500 Hz.
  2. The frequency range of non-speech signals should be in a region least likely to be affected by individuals with a loss of hearing sensitivity. This frequency region is likely to be between 500 and 1,500 Hz.
  3. Acoustic signals should be accompanied by a volume control so that the user may adjust the output level.
  4. Acoustic signals should have a duration and output level consistent with the importance of the signal.
    1. The acoustic signal should be intermittent and/or warbled.
    2. The acoustic signal should be repeated.
    3. If the acoustic signal indicates an intervention that must be taken by the user, it should be repeated until the user initiates the intervention.



Products likely to malfunction because of user error or misapplication that could emit smoke or gas should be accompanied by a built-in detector. The detector should signal an alarm or shut off the device.

The Upper Body

The primary components of the upper body include the range of motion of the individual's head and neck and the range of motion and reach with the arms.

  1. Controls and surfaces of a device that are to be accessed by the user should be within the Optimal Reach Zone (ORZ). The region or area that can be reached by most individuals has been defined as the Optimal Reach Zone (Wylde, Baron-Robbins and Clark, 1994). The ORZ is an area between 20 and 44 inches above the surface of the floor and extends to a depth of 20 inches.
  2. The minimum acceptable placement of features that must be accessed by the user is a maximum height of 52 inches, a minimum height of eight inches above the floor and a maximum depth of 24 inches.
  3. The product should accommodate adjustment. For example, shelving within a product should be adjustable. If there is a visual display, the light level should be adjustable. If there is an acoustic signal, the output level should be adjustable. If there are components that could move to accommodate differing sizes of users, they should be adjustable.
  4. The requirements for strength should not exceed five pounds of force, and should be less if at all possible.


Manual Dexterity

  1. To the greatest extent possible, the controls should be operable without using individual digits. For example, a control that could be rotated with a closed fist as opposed to grasping the control between the thumb and index finger would be preferred.
  2. Control knobs should meet the following minimums
    1. One inch in diameter; and
    2. One inch clearance between controls.
  3. Touch pads (push button) actuators should:
    1. Minimum of l/2 inch in diameter or larger; and
    2. Provide tactile feedback
  4. Controls should be located on a surface closest to the user. Ideally the user would be able to adjust the location of the controls or access the product through the use of remote controls.
  5. Controls should be available in alternative styles.
  6. Controls that perform different functions should have different shapes to help in the identification of the correct control for the intended function.
  7. Controls should have a direct and obvious relationship to the function they control.
  8. Products should not require fine finger grasping.
  9. Products should not require rotation of the hand or wrist.


Strength and Stamina (Lower Body)

  1. The product should be accessible to seated or standing users. Criteria for seated access include:
    1. Height: 29- to 30-inch opening acceptable;
    2. Width: 32-inch opening preferred; 30-inch may be acceptable; and
    3. Depth: 19-inch preferred.
  2. Products should not require more than five pounds of force (preferably less) for their use.
  3. Individual product components that are to be moved or manipulated for routine set-up, use or maintenance should weigh 10 pounds or less.
  4. The product should eliminate unnecessary movement.


Overall Safety Features

1. There should be no sharp edges or corners. All edges should be smoothed or rounded.

2. There should be no exposed components that might cut someone.

3. There should be no exposed hinges or other components that might pinch fingers or cause the user to become entangled in the mechanism.

4. There should be no exposed surfaces that might burn an individual who is unaware that the component or surface may be hot.

5. Fixed or adjustable components that interfere with the passageway around the product should be avoided.

For example, a product with a sliding door would be preferred to a product that has a hinged door. This alternative is not always cost-effective or available, but the general principle that a component of a product not protrude into a passageway around the product is preferred to the alternative.

6. Products that require movement of the body should provide stable surfaces and hand holds that will support the weight of the individual while making the prescribed movement. In general, the surface or hand hold should be able to support a weight of 250 pounds.

7. Floor surfaces of products should be non-slip.

8. Floor surfaces should be smooth and should not have gaps or holes that exceed 1/2 inch.

General Product Features

1. Products should have smooth surfaces and should avoid designs, emblems, seams and other protrusions or indentations that accumulate dirt.

2. Products should have automatic cleaning functions.

3. All functions of the product should be treated equally relative to providing information on the product for effective operation. That is, the switch that is used infrequently to remove the battery cover should be labeled as clearly as the switch used every time the product is turned on or off.

4. Special tools, particularly those only available through the manufacturer, should not be required for maintenance and cleaning of the product.

Reprinted with permission from the National Kitchen and Bath Association


A project of the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification,
in affiliation with the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, funded by the Archstone Foundation.
Located at the University of Southern California Andrus Gerontology Center, Los Angeles, California 90089-0191 (213) 740-1364.