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Finding answers to special needs

bertieatsink.jpg (2) Not all needs are the same. Thus, while universal design is meant to create environments that work well for people of all ages and abilities, some people will have specific home modification requirements. A 6-foot 7-inch NBA player, for example, will need higher work surfaces than the average 36 inches, and his 5-foot 1-inch grandmother will require countertops that are lower than the average.

You may have low vision or difficulty walking, and your spouse may be losing his hearing while still climbing mountains. So, just as not all people are alike, needs can vary -- and will surely vary if we live long enough.

How to know what modifications you should make to your home and property -- and perhaps equally important, what modifications you don't need to invest in.

There are checklists available to help people figure out just what is needed to make our homes safer and more comfortable. One is found on the AARP website. This is a series of checklists for special needs, and although these lists don't tell you exactly how to make certain modifications, they will point you in the right direction.

Another helpful website is from Iowa State University: a list of real people who have certain diseases and the modifications they have made to their homes to accommodate their medical conditions.

For the hearing impaired: Architect Robert Nichols designed a kitchen that literally lights up for Bethesda, Maryland, residents who are deaf, and Karen Koch shares the story on her blog: http://handicaphomemods.blogspot.com/2013/10/ada-kitchen-design-for-deaf.html#more.


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