Home adaptation is a practice that addresses accessibility issues in the domestic environment of disabled people, introducing modifications to the spatial environment or devices which improve their autonomy and wellbeing, and that of their caregivers.
Protocols developed to define the right adaptations for each home mainly rely on checklists to verify the normative compliance of the physical environment to predefined accessibility standards. However, these protocols fail to address the complexity of the social, cultural, and economic dimensions that structure the person-environment relationship, thus compromising the efficacy of the adaptations. The excessive rigidity of such approach relates to the current debate on the limits of Universal Design when applied to the domestic environment, and especially when directed to people with specific needs.
As an example of a more productive approach, this essay illustrates ADA, a public funded action-research project that proposes home adaptations for severely disabled people. The paper discusses the innovative strategy of ADA, based on a high level of personalization, and its main tactics: interdisciplinarity, relational setting, and centrality of activities, both in the assessment of the users’ profiles and spaces, and in the design of the adaptations.
This essay also evaluates the impact of the project, showing how in specific domains, such as those of ADA, personalization is the key to achieve the inclusive and sustainable goals of Universal Design.
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