Home & Environmental Accessibility
If you mentioned the phrase "universal design" a few short years ago, you were likely to be greeted by almost universal shrugs (unless you were surrounded by assistive technology professionals at the time).
Today, typing "universal design" into Google's Internet search engine will yield 91 million related sites, and universal design is now a hot topic not only among rehab professionals, but also among architects, interior designers and home-building firms not to mention baby boomers increasingly interested in aging-in-place issues.
Narrow doorways, entrances with steps leading to them, staircases and tiny bathrooms without grab bars in the shower are becoming universally recognized problems.
But while building and design professionals have considerable experience with elevators or adjustable-height kitchen appliances, they don't have the ready-made client base that rehab technology suppliers do not to mention the knowledge that comes from years of assessing clients and their homes for seating and mobility equipment that fits lifestyles and environments. If you're an RTS who already visits a client's home to ensure a new power chair will be able to maneuver in a narrow bathroom, doesn't that put you in the perfect position not only to recoMMend the right equipment, but perhaps also to suggest how the environment itself can be made more friendly?
Certainly, mobility and rehab manufacturers are picking up on this opportunity by expanding into home and environmental accessibility products that are natural fits for customers who buy wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment. Home and environmental accessibility will be hot in 2007 as a way for RTS's to diversify their revenue streams and the skill sets they can offer to clients.
Mobility/Rehab Impact: Bath safety, ADLs, patient transfer systems, door-operating systems, residential ramps and lifts.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Mobility Management.