037: UD and Me: Tiffany Dill

Good Fit Poor Fit
Good Fit Poor Fit
037: UD and Me: Tiffany Dill

Show Notes

Blue Day 2 Designs

Tiffany’s Blog about Wayfinding

Tiffany’s Blog about Bidets


Sarah:   You’re listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. A podcast that explores the interaction between people, design, and activity. Good Fit Poor Fit is part of The Universal Design Project, a nonprofit organization with a vision for every community across the USA to have a surplus of homes and opportunities for social participation that are universally and financially accessible.

[00:00:27] Learn more at universaldesign.org. 

[00:00:31] Rebecca: Hi listeners. Welcome back for yet another special episode in our new series, UD and Me. Today, we’ll be introducing you to another one of our team members, Tiffany Dill. Tiffany is an OT like Sarah and I, and she also has her own design business called Blue Day 2 Designs. We’ll share a link to her company’s site in the show notes so you can check out all of her beautiful work. But for now, let’s hear from the OT and design extraordinaire herself. Welcome, Tiffany.

[00:00:58] Tiffany: Hi, thanks for having me on the show today. 

[00:01:01]Sarah: You’re welcome. We’re so glad to have you, Tiffany. And, I’m really excited for you to introduce yourself to our listeners. But I wanted to start first off about, what brought you into the world of universal design? How did you learn about it and what got you really excited about universal design?

[00:01:22] Tiffany: I will have to say that as an occupational therapist, I have a heightened awareness for accessibility and inclusive spaces and those sorts of things. But I think universal design started for me when my husband and I built our dream home and we called it our “forever home” at the time.

[00:01:44] And interestingly enough, when we were designing the plan for the house, we designed it ground up with an architect and it was so much fun to collaborate with an architect and think about how our house is going to be used. But it was also challenging because we had no idea what our future was going to hold.

[00:02:03] And at the time we didn’t even have kids and we didn’t even have a dog, but now we have a kid and a dog. So it was definitely challenging to plan for the unexpected, I guess, and the future. And, and so I would say when I started my business, it actually all went back to my wheels, started spinning when we were looking for a home in the St. Louis area. 

[00:02:29] And it was very hard to find a home with two bedrooms on the main level for us. And that was in our search terms. And so we were very adamant about having two bedrooms on the main level in a home whenever we were looking. And I will tell you, it took us four years of house searching. That was a long time, but it gave us time to save up money.

[00:02:49] And we even broadened our search to a one-bedroom. We thought, okay, let’s just go look for a one-bedroom on the main level in the house. And then we realized that’s even hard too. So four years later we decided we’re going to build our house. And when we started doing that, we started actually integrating a lot of universal design features without even realizing it. And that’s the beauty of universal designs is you don’t even have to say what it is. And, it blends in with the aesthetic of the homes. Things that you don’t see, like wider hallways and doorways and you know, all the basic stuff that you always hear about.

[00:03:30] Rebecca: I think it’s really interesting that your personal experience of looking for something very reasonable in a home and not being able to find it for all that time really was your entry into universal design because you thought, “Why can’t a home be this way? It would work for us. It would work for so many other people.” 

[00:03:51] And that personal experience led you to design your own home and see all of the possibilities of what you could do. So I think that’s really interesting. And I imagine that your lens as an OT, thinking about, “How are we going to use this space?” Even not knowing what your future would hold, but looking at it in those functional terms really helped you to build a home that will work for you for a long time, regardless of what comes your way.

[00:04:18] Tiffany: Yes, exactly. That’s exactly how it worked. We just spent a lot of time designing from the ground up and I’m still thankful that we ended up doing that rather than trying to make something work that wasn’t going to work. And I only say that because when we went through designing our home because we didn’t know our future because we didn’t know if you’re going to have kids or adopt kids or have a dog, we actually designed it based on because we love having our family over. We both have large families and we wanted everyone to feel comfortable coming into our home, including our friends. We actually have friends that have disabilities, they’re in a wheelchair, we have grandparents and parents, they’re aging in place as well.

[00:05:00] And so we factored in all of the people that were going to be walking into our home and we wanted to welcome everybody. And because of that, we designed it specifically around entertaining. And we are still thankful that we did that. In fact, our house is on a hill and I don’t like that part, but at the same time, it doesn’t create an easy way to have a zero-entry or a step-less entry into our home.

[00:05:25] So we ended up adding a ramp in the back. And it’s not ADA compliant, but I didn’t care. The space doesn’t allow for the long one to 12 ratio for a ramp, but at the same time, people can get into our house. And once they get into our house, even in a wheelchair, they can get around easily and visit with us and have a great time and enjoy the space.

[00:05:48] And that’s the reason why I started this business so that people can do that and enjoy it. And hence the slogan that I have, “thoughtful spaces and joyful places”, and that’s exactly what I wanted to create for people, based on this experience. And so when I got into universal design, my husband heard on the radio that there was a universal design summit at the time. And I ended up going and I nerded out. 

[00:06:14] Rebecca:  I think that what you mentioned about your home, not only working for you living there but also for people being able to visit you there and all different people, being able to enjoy the space and entertaining speaks so much to what we do here at The Universal Design Project. You know, that’s the whole goal. It’s for the people who are going to live there, but also the friends and the family that can also benefit from a space. I’m really glad that you mentioned that and thank you for sharing that perspective.

[00:06:40] So Tiffany, will you next please tell us about a universal design space or product or design or feature that is not home-related, but that really speaks to you and that you love? 

[00:06:54] Tiffany: That is a hard question because there’s so many great products and so many great innovative technology pieces.

[00:07:01] And I have hearing loss. And so I also wear hearing aids, but, I always think about assistive technology and those sorts of things. But honestly, I think my favorite thing that I geek out over when we travel a lot. And so ever since I started teaching myself to learn more about universal designs and the depths of it and taking some extra courses on it and stuff like that.

[00:07:29] I started to learn more about wayfinding and that is probably what I geek out the most over. And so when we travel, I’m constantly taking pictures. I’m constantly observing the environment and learning how the public is utilizing universal designs. And so I get super excited when I see it. And so, one of the places that is probably the most complex and most confusing places to navigate for me, it’s airports.

[00:07:57] Airports are so confusing sometimes, especially the one we have here in St. Louis. It’s so hard to navigate and when people pick you up, you don’t even know where you’re picking them up and you don’t even know how to get out when you’re driving around, you don’t even know how to get in and out.

[00:08:12] And those sorts of things. But I think the airport that had the best wayfinding that we’ve been to by far is the Charlotte airport in North Carolina. I don’t know if you guys have been there. 

[00:08:23] Sarah: I haven’t been there before. 

[00:08:25] Tiffany: It is phenomenal. They did such an amazing job on that airport and I actually wrote a blog about it.

[00:08:31] We had a layover there and I just walked around and looked around and it was so obvious that universal design was used in this airport. And especially the wayfinding strategies. So, they had blue and yellow signs and the pictorials were really good.

[00:08:48] And so you could see the pictorial from a distance, but they had labeled underneath the pictorial was like restroom or baggage or whatever. But all you had to do was look at the picture. So even if you were unable to read the English language or if, you had vision difficulties or whatever, anybody could read those signs and know where to go.

[00:09:09] And the screens were lit and everything was just like LED and bright. And so it was a really cool experience to walk through that airport after I had learned about wayfinding. And so now I take notes wherever I go, and I love traveling and looking at those kinds of things and writing about it. 

[00:09:28] Sarah: I think that’s really cool because, well, first, would you mind explaining really quick what wayfinding is? Because I don’t know if all of our listeners would know what wayfinding is because before I started this, I wasn’t quite sure. So that’s my first thing, if you wouldn’t mind. 

[00:09:45] Tiffany: Wayfinding is basically how to navigate your space. So when you go to a college campus and you’re trying to navigate the campus and try to figure out where your dorm is or where your classrooms are, there should be signage that shows you how to get there. And so wayfinding includes like the textures, the sound, the sights, and the lighting. I mean, it encompasses a whole list of things.

[00:10:11] And so it’s a whole other topic that you can actually even talk about. 

[00:10:16] Here’s another example. So we rented an Airbnb for our first vacation as a family, with our son and we got in late at night.

[00:10:25] And so the home was not lit up. You could not see the home at all. So we passed it up and we couldn’t even find the mailbox numbers. And that’s an example of poor wayfinding. And so I actually contacted the owners of that Airbnb. And I said your house was phenomenal. It’s remodeled, it was great. I mean, it wasn’t very, universal design at all, but I would say the biggest thing for people that are coming to that house is to be able to find it if they come in at night. And so I told him the stairs weren’t lit.

[00:10:59] So the stairway to the front door, it was dark. So you really couldn’t see. And we had rented equipment for our little guy. Like, a crib and a walker and those sorts of things. And so they had that on the front porch though, and you couldn’t even see to put the key in the door. And so, we had to have our flashlight on our phone.

[00:11:17] And so it was very challenging. But the house was wonderful. I didn’t want to write a bad review about it. So I just told them it would really help your renters or whoever’s coming to your home if you just light up the stairway, light up the mailbox and, light up the doorway so that people can see to unlock the door.

[00:11:34] Sarah: And it sounds like it’s really simple stuff. I mean, wayfinding, it’s not necessarily for just people with disabilities, but it’s just really helping people figure out where they need to go just to make it simple and intuitive that you’re not having to second guess yourself because I agree going to an airport, especially like, if you’ve never been there before, it’s like overwhelming. I would love to put your blog posts in our show notes about that airport in Charlotte. 

[00:12:01] Tiffany: Oh yes. There was another airport that we went to, and this is another prime example of poor wayfinding. We had a layover in Paris when we were going to Greece and I even took pictures of this airport and it was so awful. They were doing construction and it was a whole other language. We didn’t know any of the languages there. And so it was very, very confusing. We even went to the wrong gate. And when you have good wayfinding, you can find your gate and you can get to your airplane on time.

[00:12:28] Sarah: Definitely. No, that’s so important. Do you have a favorite home-related universal design element? 

[00:12:36] Tiffany: Yes, it is very hard for me to choose. I have so many things that I love about all of the universal design features in our home. But I will have to share my husband’s favorite. His favorite is the bidet. And as you can probably tell it’s very practical now, especially during the TP shortage. So it’s perfect for the pandemic.

[00:13:02] But he loves it. I only used it probably once when we had it installed, but when you use a bidet, you can buy a separate attachment. It’s just the seat in the lid and you just have to have an electrical outlet behind the toilet to be able to plug it in. And it’s super easy to hook up yourself.

[00:13:22] So you just hook it up to the water line on the toilet. And once we got it installed, he absolutely loved it. And he’s like, “I don’t have to use toilet paper”. And I was like, “That just sounds so not clean”. And he said, well, “Which would you rather wipe your face with if you, you know, had something on your face, you know, water or toilet paper?”. But you know, it kind of makes sense, I guess, but I will have to say that, it’s nice because it does save toilet paper and helps the environment.

[00:13:54] And I was writing about the bidet product on a blog too. So I like to write about products and how they’re used and how functional they are. It is a lot cleaner. And you think about a bidet, someone with a disability can use a bidet. So, someone that has difficulty with their upper body,  using their arm, or their hands, they may have an amputation on it or something like that. And the bidet is perfect for someone like that and they make them with remote controls and stuff like that. And I actually recommend them for a lot of clients that I have. And my grandfather loved it too. And so he ended up getting one installed and then friends that we have come over.

[00:14:32] They love it. And we’ve had at least a handful of friends that have it now. And so they raved about it. I still only used it one time. However, as a new mom, I’m starting to learn more about, how much I even like universal design products, even more. But the bidet was fantastic for postpartum recovery.

[00:14:52] I will have to stay, hands down, that was the best thing that we put in our bathroom, especially postpartum. And it was just, it’s so much easier to use and it, and you’re so sensitive after delivering a baby and it just made it so much better and it helped with the healing process too.

[00:15:15] And when I  wrote a review about the bidet, it also apparently helps with hemorrhoids as well. So it does a multitude of things. 

[00:15:22] Rebecca: I feel like in just listening to you, you’ve touched on so many ways that a bidet can be useful for such a wide variety of people, disability or not, whatever reason you might have for using it. Whether situational, something like a toilet paper shortage, or, having hemorrhoids or not having the ability to use your hands to finish toileting, all of those things. And so I think that it’s an excellent example of universal design and I love that you brought that up.

[00:15:51] Tiffany: Yes, it’s fantastic. I mean, like I said, it was my husband’s favorite hands down and I love talking about it and I love recommending it because it is so universal. Like even kids can use it. 

[00:16:02] Rebecca: So it’s really versatile, which is great. 

[00:16:05] Tiffany: Yes it is. 

[00:16:06] Rebecca: And we’ll also provide a link to your blog about that in the show notes. 

[00:16:13] Well, Tiffany, thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I feel like I learned a lot. And I’m really glad that you brought up wayfinding and also bidets, neither of these things we’ve really talked about on the podcast.

[00:16:25] So I imagine that our listeners can learn a lot from you and we really appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us. 

[00:16:32] Tiffany: Awesome. Thank you so much. And it was such a pleasure to talk with you guys today.  

[00:16:36] Sarah: Yes thank you. 

[00:16:38] Rebecca: And to our listeners, we hope you enjoyed meeting another Universal Design Project team member.

[00:16:43] And we’ll talk to you again real soon.

[00:16:45] Sarah: Thanks for listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. I’m your host Sarah Pruett, Program Director and Occupational Therapist at The Universal Design Project. Learn more about our work at universaldesign.org, and find more episodes and links to subscribe at goodfitpoorfit.com. If you have questions or topics you’d like to discuss, email us at [email protected].

[00:17:16] Thanks for fitting us into your day!


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