About Universal Design
Susan is a frequent lecturer on the topic of Universal Design – an
inclusive design approach for products and the environment that enables
access and usability for people of most abilities. Universal design is distinctive
for its invisible, common-sense design rather than for features more commonly
identified with mandated elements from the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA). Additionally, Susan is a former contributing writer to the Chevy
on the topic of Universal Design.
Rather than thinking of universal design as a design approach
for people with handicaps, it is useful to think of UD as a conscious
attempt to alleviate
handicapping environments. Although there are seven principles that are
characteristic of Universal Design, they boil down to the simple notion
that product and
environmental design should allow people of all abilities an inclusive
and non-stigmatizing opportunity for use. “Uncomplicated, simple to understand
and to use, effortless,” are some descriptors of Universal Design. People
who use a TV remote or an automatic garage door opener usually give no
thought to what life-enhancers these universally designed products are
to people who
are unable to move about freely. To bend, reach or lift may be difficult
or not possible. Yet, these products have worked their way into our normal
routines and are enablers for people of all abilities.
Aging in Place
For people who want to “Age-in-Place,” Universal Design is a
perfect design option to pursue because of the comprehensive features that
endure throughout a life span. Although universal design may well share some
features associated with barrier-free design, a key distinguishing feature
is that universal design is invisible and leaves the house or product looking “normal” or
as things “should look.”
See what some clients said about working with Susan:
first became aware of Susan Bachner when we toured a remodeled house
for which she was the universal design consultant.
We were intrigued
with the principles of universal design, and when we decided to update
our master bathroom, we wanted to utilize these features wherever possible.
We contacted Susan to get more information.
At our first meeting, we were impressed with her knowledge, suggestions,
and pleasant personality. She was
never pushy, but was adamant and advocated those things that provided access
and safety. Examples included: a shower entrance without a step or ledge
to be more easily shower chair accessible; bathroom doors opening out
assistance in the event of a fall against the door; a bathroom phone that
could be reached if someone was on the floor; no 90 degree corners on
vanity counter tops.
We wanted to continue exploring renovation options and Susan introduced us
to an architect and a contractor with whose work she was familiar. After several
meetings and more frequent e-mails involving all parties, we decided to expand
the master bedroom as well as the master bath. Throughout this process, Susan
has been very helpful by reviewing the drawings, asking questions, providing
reference materials for us to read, joining us in meetings to select bathroom
fixtures, and following though on all our requests and questions. Her attention
to detail and responsiveness has helped us enormously.
In summary, Susan Bachner is an intelligent,
knowledgeable, and creative consultant in whom we have great confidence
Margot and Levis McCullers