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Product overview: User-friendly designs

Many vendors and manufacturers are getting on the bandwagon with Universal Design products. They are realizing the benefit of designing a product that is useful and adaptable to a wide range of ages and styles of living.

Several of these products have been showcased recently at trade shows, such as the Pacific Coast Bulders Conference held each summer in San Francisco.

Toto toilets have become popular in the residential market.  They include an assortment of styles, sizes and gadgets that seem to tickle one's fancy. The Universal Design elements that make Toto appropriate in anyone's bathroom is the fact that they have a dual, wall-mount flush panel that can be depressed easily with one's hand, elbow or even a short stick. Arthritis sufferers don't have to worry about that little lever anymore.

Velux Sun Tunnel Looking on another bright side, Velux is promoting a sun tunnel to be used in small areas where a traditional skylight won't work. This circle in the ceiling that allows light to filter in through a atunnel to the roof is remote control operated, eliminating hard-to-reach switches. It also has an automatic close feature for sudden rainy days.

The sun tunnel, illustrated (not to scale) at right, can bring daylight into a windowless space -- which not only provides natural light but eliminates the total darkness that can put the elderly or frail at increased risk of falling.

The Italian company, Apexfine, is also addressing the need for Universal Design in sliding glass doors. Their newly designed system has no raised track on the floor, making the transition from inside to outside completely level. The sleek profile is contemporary and elegant.

Hopefully, more of the design community will become aware of the appeal of products that can be used and enjoyed by everyone.

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