In his interesting article, Easy Chair, John Crowley makes the case for broadly applied accommodating design, generally referred to as universal design. Of particular interest to me is the beginning of the piece, found in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine. Crowley describes a 1950 movie, The Men, that chronicles the struggles of returning WWII soldiers with spinal cord injuries. He describes the final scene where the main character who uses a wheelchair is helped up the stairs of his own home. The poignancy of his obstacle and need for assistance, while a situation less frequent now than it was 65 years ago, is a scenario that is still a reality for many people and their homes in the US. Most homes can’t easily accommodate people whose performance characteristics vary very far from the typical. Most homes have stairs leading inside.
Crowley follows with a statement that is close to the heart of the Better Living Design (BLD) initiative. “if they just got rid of those steps, the house could be entered with no particular necessity for moral growth.” Exactly. We at BLD promote homes for everyone that happen to allow use by a wide range of people. These are homes – because they look like other homes – that don’t require moral growth to acquire and use, just a little common sense.