In 2013, Davidson Design for Life conducted a health impact assessment (HIA) that examined the health impacts of incorporating universal design and visitability features within single family homes in Davidson, NC. Universal Design is defined as the “design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” In terms of residential design this means including a step-free entrance route that blends into the overall design, wide doorways, a bedroom and bathroom on the lower level, and placing light switches and outlets at appropriate heights for children or sitting adults. Additional universal design features are typically found in kitchens and bathrooms including: adjustable or multiple countertop heights, extending and removable cabinets or drawers, lever faucets, attractively designed grab bars, and a curbless shower with a handheld shower head.
As of December 2013, the findings of the report have not been widely distributed; however, the Town of Davidson has included language about requiring at least one, zero-step entry into a single- family house within its planning ordinance which is currently being re-written.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.