087: UD and Me: Grant Todd

Good Fit Poor Fit
Good Fit Poor Fit
087: UD and Me: Grant Todd

Show Notes:

Gardening Tool Ideas: The UD Projects Course – Adaptations for Everyday Tasks… Located in the Outdoor Living Section.

Rev-A-Shelf: Mixer Lift with Shelf


Sarah: [00:00:00] You’re listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. Our podcast is part of The UD Project, a small business rooted in occupational therapy that looks at how the design of a home environment impacts how well people of different ages and abilities perform everyday activities. We chat about this unique perspective to boost your knowledge and help you consider what can be changed in communities like yours.

Learn more about our work at universaldesign.org.

Hi, listeners. Welcome back for yet another special episode in our series, UD and Me. Today, Rebecca and I will be introducing you to Grant Todd. He is a student in occupational therapy, getting his doctorate from the University of Central Arkansas. He will be completing his capstone with us this summer and has a goal to learn as much as he can about modifications and UD to participate in a project of [00:01:00] his own to make some much needed access changes to the OT house located on their campus.

Rebecca: Very cool stuff here, Grant. We’re happy to have you here at The Universal Design Project and as our guest on Good Fit Poor Fit. So tell us a bit more about yourself and why you’re excited about universal design.

Grant: Yeah, so as y’all said, I am a third year OTD student at UCA. But my excitement for universal design came well before. I grew up with my mom being an interior decorator and my grandpa being a carpenter and cabinet maker. So for years I got to work with my grandpa on a whole bunch of his projects and I was able to learn a lot from him. We did all sorts of things from kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels. We did an accessible deer stand for one client. Years of doing this just led to a class in undergrad. I was able to take at Arkansas Tech University while pursuing a rehab science degree. And my professor at the time, Dr. Wondolowski, decided to do a one off class [00:02:00] called Universal Design Concepts. So that class is really what kind of stirred the enjoyment for this whole idea of universal design. And then it just continued to grow through my excitement of OT school and realizing that, hey, this is something I can actually do for part of my job, and then knowing that I love working with my hands and building things in general. So I just decided, you know, it’s time to put it all together. And that’s where I just really got excited about it.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s really awesome, Grant. You have a great background in all of this. I am so glad to have you join us this summer, and I’m really excited to see what changes you’re able to make to that OT house on your campus. So with all of this background that you’ve brought with you from creating things with your own hands, and accessible and UD knowledge, you really have a great set of skills. I know you mentioned doing an accessible deer stand for that client, which sounds really cool. And from getting to know you a little bit, it sounds like you really enjoy [00:03:00] being in the outdoors and have the mindset of making those spaces easier for people that are young, those that are older, and that have some diverse abilities.

I would love for you to share with our listeners one of your favorite UD features outside the home.

Grant: Honestly, I would probably have to say gardens and I’m talking like real vegetable gardens, not just kind of your plant, your rock, your pretty gardens. I love being outside, and from what I’ve heard, researched, and just seen, play out from people that are doing different approaches, it looks like you’re able to take a really good universal design approach to gardens, and that just really intrigues me. There’s some people that I know that are working, at a school here in Little Rock, Arkansas. And so some of those people are really getting into gardening and outdoor exploration. And some of the concepts that I’ve seen and heard that those couple people are implementing seem to be really cool.

So, right now I’d probably say that’s my favorite concept to be looking at.

Rebecca: That’s really awesome, Grant. I love the idea of a [00:04:00] universally designed garden. My mom has a beautiful garden and luckily at this point she’s able to maneuver around there without too much trouble, but I can definitely see where it would get dicey with all the different heights of the beds, scooping and carrying heavy mulch or fertilizer.

Plus even just bending over for a long time to tend to her botanical friends, as I call them. So can you tell our listeners some features that they could expect to see in or around a universally designed garden?

Grant: Yeah. So when I am imagining a universal design garden, it really just comes down to what is the most easiest thing to maintain, and to be able to access. So one of the first things I think of, when it comes to accessibility, and your ability to move around, it comes down to concrete and other smooth surfaces, potentially even well groomed flat grass. All of those things are definitely a must to be able to get around. Concrete, I’ve seen that, you know, it keeps it open for more people. But having it in grassy areas is preferred by others just because [00:05:00] you feel more natural with what you’re doing. Having adaptive garden equipment obviously makes this way more obtainable. Whether that’s rolling garden seats used with clients that need to be able to sit down or just don’t have the ability of strength to stay standing for a long time. Utilizing extendable tools, pruners and cultivators. It just makes it so much easier to do the job. I know as I was taking the classes y’all provide, on The Universal Design Project’s website, I was able to learn so many more products than I even knew were out there. So looking at a necessity, raised beds are a must, whether they’re just raised and still on the ground or they’re a tabletop style, it just makes it 10 times more open.

And honestly, it just feels easier when you’re trying to tend and pick the garden. And just take care of it overall. The tabletop ones that I have seen, I’ve seen some be stationary as well as some that are on wheels, making them movable. These tabletop gardens are great because you could roll a wheelchair underneath it.

You can pull a chair up to it, or you can [00:06:00] just get even closer to the actual plants. So ultimately, we’re just really looking at trying to make the job easier, trying to keep people involved and keep things easier on the body. I would not recommend doing tower plants though if we’re going to do raised gardens, especially like tomatoes, because that just might get too high and then it’s too hard on everybody. So probably better to keep it with some lower plants. We could get into where to run and place watering systems and even, like, animal deterrent systems for the garden so that way you don’t have any deer coming in trying to eat all your lettuce or anything like that. But I think we’ll save that for another day when we have some time to go in depth.

Rebecca: Yeah, that’s already quite a lot to chew on, Grant. So thank you. I love that you’re thinking about this, not just from the garden itself, but also the other activities required for gardening, maintaining the plants and picking any yummy food you’ve planted, for example. So transitioning to our next subject, will you share with us and our listeners, your favorite universal [00:07:00] design concept or product for a home setting.

Grant: I think I’m gonna have to go back to cabinets and the kitchen in general on that one. The kitchen is personally kind of the heartbeat of the house. It’s where life happens, conversation happens, and just where community gathers, at least that’s what I’ve seen in my life. The amount of memories I have from remodeling kitchens and then just how my family interacts in the kitchen, it just makes it kind of my favorite room in the house.

So having the kitchen universally designed really allows for others, to feel in charge of their house. And… yeah, that’s just gotta be my favorite without a doubt.

Sarah: Yeah, I think you’re right here, Grant. No matter where you are in a kitchen, even if it’s tiny or if it has lots of room, people generally congregate around that food. I have fond memories as well of being in an extended family’s kitchen, eagerly awaiting the yummy food, that was being cooked maybe for breakfast, or even working on a craft project with my grandma as a kid. [00:08:00] There’s a lot of tasks that go on in the kitchen. Even today, when our extended family gets together, we all end up there with pets and little kids underfoot as well. Even without guests in the mix, the kitchen definitely needs to be functional for the people who live there. So they can participate in the ever so important task of food prep and cleaning up after the meal.

So Grant, as you’re thinking about the kitchen in general and the cabinet features, what kitchen elements are important for our listeners to consider that they may not have thought about before?

Grant: So my first thought is initially under cabinet lighting and placement of a few bigger appliance items like crock pots, dehydrators, things like that. I think under cabinet lighting is something people are really starting to normalize just because of how helpful it is. But I still think it’s something that can be overlooked. I grew up having them. My parents made sure we had them in our house, and anytime I was at people’s houses that didn’t have them, or [00:09:00] in my college apartments that I had, it sucked at times not having that lighting. Especially when you’re meal prepping, or in my case, you’re being super fancy with your coffee setup. Lighting underneath the floor cabinets is also really helpful, especially with navigation through the dark house, or with vision problems. Just having that as an extra guide is super helpful. If we’re going back to the placement of some of the bigger items in the kitchen, I know my grandma has this really big mixer that she used to bake wedding cakes for years, and that was always under the counter and she always had to bend down and pick it up and It was just kind of getting to be a hassle and finally we convinced her to just leave it out.

It was nice looking enough. It was, it was worth leaving out and she noticed how much more of a convenience it was to leave it out too. And so looking at her from aging in that home for another however many years that she’s going to be just placing those bigger appliances in convenient areas, that are used more often or [00:10:00] heavier just seem to make life a lot easier. So when I think of more convenient areas, I’m definitely thinking of like corners, moving shelving, things like that. I normally design the layout of my kitchen and what my most used appliances are around those options. Other options are, you know, under-counter lifts that are going to come up from the bottom. I know Sarah, you introduced me to the rev-a-shelf and it’s, from my understanding is it’s a spring-loaded shelf and you can put a mixer or a heavier item on it and it’ll raise it all the way up to a counter height for you. So then you’re not having to bend down very far to get that to move and it’s working with you.

And I just think that’s really awesome. And so I’m currently working on my doctoral capstone project right now. And learning a lot from conversations with you guys. And then from my own research, the classes that you have provided, and then just all of the research that’s out there and all the research that you’ve pointed me to with all of that information, I am taking it and working [00:11:00] towards renovating a house.

So I’m learning about all of this and all of this equipment that there is. At the same time that I’m here talking about it with you guys. So there’ll be more to come on that project in the future, but that’s probably what I would immediately think of when it comes to the kitchen. And some of just what I know and insight that I have that I’ll be thinking about it and what y’all have provided with me.

Rebecca: This all makes a lot of sense, Grant. And it’s very obvious that you have a lot of knowledge that you’re coming to the table with already. And you have a great handle on so many things, universal design. Plus the fact that you can fabricate things and make things by hand is pretty incredible because as we learned so many times at The Universal Design Project, there aren’t always products that work for everybody.

So being able to maneuver them as you wish will be really helpful in creating a space that works for lots of people. I personally can’t wait to see how you grow and learn over the next few months. [00:12:00] And listeners, thank you for tuning in and we’ll be back in your feed soon with more Good Fit Poor Fit.

Sarah: Thanks for listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. If you want to learn more… first, find more episodes with transcripts and show notes at goodfitpoorfit.com. Don’t forget to subscribe! Second, check out our courses at go.universaldesign.org.

We cover housing topics like advocacy, collaboration, home modification, universal design and task adaptations. Lastly, if you have questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, email us at [email protected]. Thanks for fitting us into your day.


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