The primary challenge of designing for ‘all people’ is making sure that it’s functional for people with different physical and mental needs and abilities while ensuring that the design is also useful for everyone. Something that’s universally designed will work for as many people as possible. Even the fittest among us will experience illness or injury at some point during our lifetime, and none of us are immune to ageing. A change in a person’s circumstances shouldn’t require an expensive retrofit in order to continue living there easily, safely and independently as time goes on.
If you’re incorporating a slope into your design to improve accessibility over stairs, the sloped area can become hazardous, especially in rain and as it gathers moss and mould over time. You can minimise this risk by specifying a non-slip finish. Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path is a textured waterborne finish designed to provide a comfortable walking surface inside or out where a non-skid finish is required on residential, commercial or light industrial projects. It can be tinted to complement or contrast dècor, to create decorative effects or wayfinding on courtyard and path surfaces and to highlight stair edges in light colours to reduce the risk of accident. Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path has been slip resistance tested with a result of 0.74-0.78, which means it meets slip resistance requirements for slopes up to 34 degrees. Plus, it was rated 5 stars out of 5 in Consumer NZ’s test of anti-slip finishes.
One ability that many of us take for granted, which can have a big impact on how people interact with spaces, is vision. It is frequently assumed that when a person is blind, they experience total blindness. But in reality, the majority of people with vision impairment have some level of sight. Colour contrast becomes really important to help those individuals navigate spaces — especially around doorways. Products such as Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel can help delineate specific areas in colour and the higher sheen will help the colour to stand out vs a flatter finish. Or look to hardwearing Resene AquaLAQ to colour or recolour cabinetry, joinery and furniture to help add needed contrast to key areas.
When it comes to figuring out how much colour contrast is enough contrast, look to the LRV (Light Reflectance Values) on Resene colour charts or Resene’s online colour library. These work on a 0-100% scale and are a measure of what the colour looks like. So, if you need a contrast of 30% LRV then you would need a colour of say 40 LRV and 70 LRV to give the required colour contrast difference of 30% LRV. However, while an LRV change of 30 could be obtained with a dark green and a lighter green, those colours wouldn’t necessarily be enough contrast for someone who is colour blind – a condition which affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 260 women. Ideally, as well as a strength difference, you should also look to using contrasting hues — such as black against yellow, which is thought by many experts to be the easiest colour combination for the human eye to differentiate — as well as different sheen levels and proper lighting.
Making smart colour choices is something that can make a huge impact for arguably little or no added cost. Incorporating wayfinding principles such as painted lines in different colours on walls or floors that users can follow, different colours on different levels, or different colours for spaces with different purposes can not only add to the visual interest of the space, but it can help everyone easily find and know where to go, regardless of ability.
Once it’s dark, light becomes key. The height of light switches is often arbitrary, as it is often determined by where it was simplest for the installer to cut the plasterboard, which doesn’t always make them easy for all users to reach. Resene SmartTouch can make turning lights on and off much easier, regardless of your height, age or ability. It allows the wall to become the switch, covering an area of up to 2m². Once installed, users can simply tap the wall finished in Resene SmartTouch to switch the lights on and off. You can choose whatever finish coat colour suits your project and build in extra contrast if desired.