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We appreciate your interests in Universal Design, a global movement of inclusive design practice initiated at NC State University College of Design. The Center for Universal Design is currently not active due to funding challenges. We are working to revive the Center, hopefully in the near future. We are unable at this time to provide assistance to your design inquiries.

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It has three broad purposes in relation to people with disabilities:

  • to end segregation of the housing available to people who have disabilities;

  • to give people with disabilities greater opportunity to choose where they want to live;

  • to assure that reasonable accommodations be made to the individual needs of people with disabilities in securing and using housing.

To ensure that persons with disabilities will have full use and enjoyment of their dwellings, the Fair Housing Act also includes two important provisions:

(1) a provision making it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, and services when necessary to allow the resident with a disability equal opportunity to use the property and its amenities; and

(2) a provision making it unlawful to refuse to permit residents with disabilities to make reasonable modifications to either their dwelling unit or to the public and common use areas, at the residents' cost.

The Fair Housing Act establishes the following seven design requirements for all covered, multifamily dwellings consisting for four or more units ready for first occupancy on or after March 13, 1991. The design requirements of the Guidelines to which covered multifamily dwelling units must comply are presented in abridged form below. Some units may be exempt from these requirements only in the rare instance where there are extremes of terrain or unusual characteristics of the site. Multistory units are exempt from the design and construction requirements:

Requirement 1
Accessible Building Entrance on an Accessible Route: Covered multifamily dwellings must have at least one building entrance on an accessible route unless it is impractical to do so because of terrain or unusual characteristics of the site. All such dwellings with a building entrance on an accessible route must meet Requirements 2 through 7.

Requirement 2
Accessible and Usable Public and Common Use Areas: Public and common use areas must be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Requirement 3
Usable Doors: All doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises must be sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs.

Requirement 4
Accessible Route Into and Through the Covered Dwelling Unit: There must be an accessible route into and through the dwelling units, providing access for people with disabilities.

Requirement 5
Light Switches, Electrical Outlets, Thermostats, and Other Environmental Controls in Accessible Locations: These features must be placed in accessible locations throughout the premises within the dwelling unit.

Requirement 6
Reinforced Walls for Grab Bars: Bathroom walls must be reinforced to allow later installation of grab bars around the toilet, tub, shower stall and shower seat.

Requirement 7
Usable Kitchen and Bathrooms: Dwelling units must contain usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

You can learn more about Built Environments by going to the section Laws/Regulations/Standards.

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