II. Product Selection Criteria
VI. Changing Elevations
VII. Entry, Exit and Passages
VIII. Public Accommodations Products
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:
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.
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.
U usable and useful
A accessible, adaptable, and adjustable
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.
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 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.
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.
Acoustic signals produced by the product should be audible under conditions of varying background noise levels.
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.
Strength and Stamina (Lower Body)
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