The Accessible Home

The Accessible Home

SKU# 071400

Designing for all ages and abilities

Deborah Pierce


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Other Formats
  • Product # 071400
  • Type Paperback
  • ISBN 978-1-60085-491-0
  • Published Date 2012
  • Dimensions 8 1/2 x 10 7/8
  • Pages 240
  • Photos 225
  • Drawings 30

"One of the best new guides I have run across to achieve this goal is The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages & Abilities, by Deborah Pierce. The structure of this handbook is smart”
– Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

“I found myself paging through The Accessible Home, foraging for ideas for my own home--having forgotten that this was a specialized book only for those with disabilities.”  
– Lee Wallender, Guide, Home Renovations

"As author, Deborah Pierce understands and conveys it, “universal design” aims at creating buildings and spaces that allow use by the disabled and able-bodied alike."
- The Detroit News

"A terrific guide"
– The Wall Street Journal 

Millions of baby boomers are approaching the golden years. While it’s a marker worth celebrating, it can also be a reminder of uncertain times ahead. How will I manage? Can I stay in my home?

The Accessible Home goes beyond ramps and grab-bars to help aging boomers, or those faced with disabilities, accomplish home accessibility on a deeper level. With a focus on closing the gap between home and homeowner, architect Deborah Pierce leads readers through the steps of universal design—from hiring the right architect to creating a pleasing space with the final details.

Plus, an insider’s look at 25 case studies shows that the best design is built in, not tacked on, and that “accessible” can be both beautiful and functional. The Accessible Home empowers people of all ages and challenges them to create homes that restore independence and the grace of daily living.


Preview a sample of this book below

Table of Contents


What Is an Accessible Home?

Approach and Arrival

Building Connections

Living and Dining

Preparing and Cooking Meals

Personal Hygiene and Care

Dressing and Sleeping

Utility Spaces

Outdoor Places

Historic Accessible Homes

Single-Level Living

Multistory and Accessible

Vacation Homes

Child-Centered Homes

Homes for Extended Families

Aging in Place

Afterword: Make it happen!


IN THE EARLY 1990S THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES Act was in its infancy, and my architectural practice was busy assessing public buildings for compliance with the ADA. The School Department in my city had embraced a program called “Understanding Handicaps,” to teach fourth-graders about human differences through its character-education curriculum. Taught by trained parent facilitators, the program simulated various disabilities so that the students could experience the challenges of being unable to use their bodies fully. Thinking my experience might be of help, I signed up to lead the 2-week unit on physical disabilities.

For the last class of the unit we invited a young man to speak with the students about his experiences as a quadriplegic. Jim had broken his spine diving into shallow water. Now living and driving independently, he planned to meet us in the auditorium. The fourth-grade students were waiting for Jim as the minutes ticked by. Recalling a new citywide policy on locking school doors, I went to the front entrance thinking the bell might be out of order. A van was parked beside the curb-cut near the side door, and Jim was seated in his wheelchair at the only school entrance with a ramp—and no doorbell.

Accompanying Jim through the school was an eye-opening experience. The building presented barriers at every turn, starting with a doorbell-less ramped entrance. Corridor doors came in sets of two, narrow heavy oak doors swinging toward the exit that were impossible to enter without assistance. The auditorium floor pitched steeply down toward the stage with narrow maneuvering aisles and landings. The school’s only accessible restroom was unisex and child-sized. Something clicked for me: It would take more than laws to ensure equitable environments, although the ADA was an important start.

Years later in my own practice, a couple turned to me to renovate their house when their daughter Jamie was six. The house was an obstacle course for a child with cerebral palsy and using a power wheelchair, with steep stairs, and bathrooms too small for Jamie and an assistant. Her mother suggested I visit Jamie at school to see her in a barrier-free setting. Jamie was a different child there, independent and engaged. It was crystal clear that the environment has a profound impact on who we are and whether we can fulfill our potential as human beings.

Customer Reviews

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Wonderful sentiments, short on reality Review by Robert

A wonderfully written book by Deborah Pierce, with many fine photographs and useful sidebar notes.
My issue is with the Fine Homebuilding quality of the pictured residences. None of my clients have that kind of money.
They are in wheelchairs. They live off Social Security and food stamps.
The book is inspirational though, and it has given me many ideas about how I can adapt her beautifully written guidelines into real world solutions.
Thank you Deborah for writing this!

(Posted on 11/14/12)

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