NARI’s UDCP designation has been around for three years and was developed by the organization’s certification board. “We had a brainstorming session and the outcome of it was this certification,” explains Dan Taddei, NARI’s director of education. NARI requires UDCP students to be in the industry five years before they can attend the eight-hour class, which also is available online in four two-hour sessions. Students must pass a 65-question exam and then maintain their certification with 10 hours of continuing education each year.
Taddei says the thrust of the course is the process of remodeling for special needs. He explains: “Most of the people who attend have a CR [certified remodeler designation, which provides business education], though it’s not a requirement. We don’t cover a lot of business aspects, and we don’t talk a lot about marketing other than where to source clients. Of the eight hours, probably six and a half are actually about design and remodeling.”
Taddei says the course covers the seven principles of universal design, which were created in 1997 by a working group at North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design, Raleigh. The principles are:
- Equitable use—the design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
- Flexibility in use—the design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and intuitive use—the design is easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.
- Perceptible information—the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
- Tolerance for error—the design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
- Low physical effort—the design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
- Size and space for approach and use—appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use, regardless of user’s body size, posture or mobility.
“The course focuses on how remodelers can use these concepts to make a house more accessible without making it look institutional,” Taddei adds.
Currently, there are a little more than 100 UDCPs, and it is a steadily growing certification. “People are asking for universal design,” Taddei notes. “As long as the need is out there for remodelers to help clients with their accessibility issues, there will be a need for the training.”
Remodelers who are certified as CAPS or UDCPs often hesitate to market themselves as such because they don’t want to be classified as only working with special-needs cases. In these instances, word-of-mouth and referrals often top the list of ways to generate business. Networking also can be a successful marketing strategy. For example, Graf has aligned himself with an insurance organization in his area that helps elderly people manage their assets. “I explained to the director what I do, and she said she had been looking for someone like me because there are people who come to her and need remodeling to meet their mobility needs,” Graf says.
Sevon works with banks’ trust departments and a Realtor who represents families with trusts. “There are trusts in which a child or adult was in an accident; they’ve realized a settlement of some sort; and they need to be able to live better with the disability that occurred,” Sevon explains. “That’s when trust companies will call us because they handle the affairs and incomes of the families, so the money is not spent frivolously.”
Russ Glickman, CR, CAPS, CEAC, GACP, president of Glickman Design Build, North Potomac, Md., has made connections through his 24-year-old son who was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. “About 10 years ago I realized I can help other people who are going through what my family has gone through, so I got my CAPS and Certified Environmental Access Consulting certification, which is a little more accessibility focused [and administered by Accessible Home Improvement of America]. I get referrals from the community my son is involved in—from his doctor, physical therapist and others. People who treat my son treat other people like him. About half my business now is helping people with special needs.”