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Doorway to Inclusion and Independence Demonstrates Design for Aging in Place

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The design of housing and other buildings is important for successful aging in place. Design features can make a house more inclusive and “visit-able” by people of all ages and abilities. Poor design features can make it difficult to even get in the front door.

Visitability and Universal Design are hot topics for Aging Network advocates but are not well-understood by others. This month, the Northwest Universal Design Council will share these ideas in a new way to a brand new audience at the 2019 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, a two-day street fair celebrating the ways design affects our lives.

The Block Party is a free event that takes place on Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, August 25 (10 a.m.–7 p.m. both days) at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, adjacent to the Museum of History and Industry and The Center for Wooden Boats).

The Northwest Universal Design Council’s installation is entitled “Doorway to Inclusion and Independence: How Universal Design Creates Balanced Access for All.” It will feature a full-size house front door with accessibility features that demonstrate a “visitable” approach to designing something that most of us encounter every day. A zero-step level entry and lever-style door handle are tangible Universal Design features.

Once attendees enter through the door, they will encounter various other hands-on demonstrations, including products designed for home accessibility provided by the Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP). WATAP provides a comprehensive continuum of services and resources to help Washingtonians with disabilities of all ages to make informed decisions about assistive technology and to provide alternative means of acquiring the technologies they need.

The Block Party is one component of the 2019 Seattle Design Festival, which takes place from August 16–25 at locations across Seattle. Other events include tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, neighborhood design crawls, and more.

The Block Party is an opportunity for the design community and the public to come together and interact through large-scale design installations and design activities all centered around the Festival’s 2019 theme: BALANCE. The Block Party is presented by Design in Public, a strategic initiative of AIA Seattle, in collaboration with dozens of community organizations.

The Northwest Universal Design Council and WATAP invite you to join the festivities, learn more about Universal Design and visitability, and check out some of the cool ways that something as simple as a doorway can help our communities achieve full inclusion for older adults and people with disabilities.

Contributor Jon Morrison Winters is a planner at Aging and Disability Services and a co-lead with Age Friendly Seattle coordinator Sarah Demas in staffing the Northwest Universal Design Council. New members are welcome. For more information, e-mail