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Universal design refers to buildings and environments accessible to both people with and without disability.

The term was invented by architect Ronald L. Mace to describe designing the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone—regardless of age, ability or status in life.

Universal design is also known as accessible design and follows the principles of equitable use, flexibility in use, being simple and intuitive for people, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort and adequate size and space for approach and use.

In WA, the State Government has partnered with the local building industry to create the Liveable Homes initiative to provide tools and resources required to build accessible homes without compromising on style.

Liveable Homes are open-plan and easy to use and move around in, designed to maximise space in key areas.

They ensure people of all ages and abilities can live in or visit the home from the day they are born through to retirement.

According to research from Anglican Retirement Villages, only three per cent of people aged 65 or more live in retirement homes.

The three percent that do live in retirement homes mainly do so because their homes were not designed for them to “age in place”—the vast majority of them would have preferred to stay in their previous homes.

Innovative building ideas will ensure these houses last the lifetime of residents as their needs change.

A range of support materials is available at to help builders, designers, architects and home-owners incorporate accessible (or universal) design into their homes.

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