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HomeSchoolNews2012 News › Universal Design: Understanding Home Accessibility

2012 News

Universal Design: Understanding Home Accessibility

By: Ashley Osborne, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues

Kentucky Group at UDLL

In September, a group of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agents, Dr. Ann Vail, Director, School of Human Environmental Sciences and Assistant Director, FCS Extension, and Ashley Osborne, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues, embarked upon a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) in Columbus, Ohio (photo above).  The UDLL is a national demonstration home and garden built out of the dreams, passions and needs of Dr. Rosemarie Rossetti and husband, Mark Leder.  They built and share their home to help people, including the building industry, better understand how to create a more comfortable living environment that will enhance quality of life. 

Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL)

The journey toward the construction of the UDLL began in June of 1998 when Rosemarie was paralyzed from the waist down after a 3 ½ ton tree crashed down on her while she and Mark were bicycling. Following the accident, she and her husband realized that their two-story dream home was no longer practical or safe for their needs. After touring model homes across the country, researching universal design principles, and talking with countless builders and corporate sponsors, Rosemarie and Mark set forth to build the UDLL. The ranch-style home highlights the quality of indoor and outdoor lifestyle through universal design features, resource and energy efficient “green building” methods, safety, advanced automation technology, a healthy home construction approach, and design principles of feng shui. According to Rosemarie, “A home is not truly sustainable unless it is accessible.”

UDLL in-counter steamer

As the Kentucky FCS Extension group toured the home, it was apparent that each feature in the house had been carefully thought out in terms of both accessibility and sustainability. The in-counter steamer and pasta cooker was of particular interest to the group. This appliance allows you to easily cook pastas, vegetables, fruits, meats, and even desserts like custards and puddings. The in-counter steamer is easily filled with the amount of water needed using the pot filler and water is drained by the simple flip of a switch.

The Universal Design Living Laboratory incorporates accessibility and assistive technology throughout and provides a great opportunity to learn about accessibility in housing.  For more information about the UDLL, visit

A new series of publications in Family and Consumer Sciences Extension provides information to help people of all ages and abilities evaluate and adapt their home to optimize safety and independence.  The publications emphasize ability in light of a disability and discuss universal design features, including assistive technology that can make homes safer and more user-friendly for all.  To access the publications, contact your Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service county offices or visit our website and scroll to the General Housing section.


Posted 11/15/12
University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, An Equal Opportunity University
Copyright 2011, Questions/Comments - Last Updated: March 13 2013 14:51:04