Empirical data on the necessity of for and effectiveness of universal design for increasing independence is minimal. There is an abundance of theories for the need of modifications to the environment to fit the needs of people. There is a lack of research to support these theories however.
In my quest to find data, I came across a very unique study conducted in 1999 comparing 2 bathroom layouts with a variety of users. An accessible bathroom is put to the test side by side with a standard bathroom which is not in compliance with accessibility standards.
The results of the study may or may not surprise you. Either way, the outcome of this study is valid for today’s living environments, and can help support the movement for widespread use of universal design concepts.
The following is a summary of a research article published in the ProQuest Psychology Journals in 1999, titled: Measuring Universal Design: Case of the Bathroom. Authored by: Abir Mullick, Associate Professor at State University of New York at Buffalo.
-The findings of the study validate the premise of universal design. They also provide information on the design effectiveness of accessible bathrooms and the functional requirements of universal bathrooms.
More details regarding this study below:
-For each bathroom, participants were asked to enter the bathroom, turn on the light switch, demonstrate use of the toilet, lavatory and bathtub/shower, turn off the light switch, and exit the bathroom.