Gail J. Weber

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Engineering Technology

Committee Member

Shinming Shyu, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Jiang Lu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Stein, Ph.D.


This research and design project examines the philosophies and psychological factors of aging in place and universal design, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and how they can be realistically applied in interior design for people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a terminal illness with an approximate two- to five-year prognosis. The case study explores the design needs and preferences of one couple living with ALS. Analysis of the case study suggests that a complete universal design or ADAAG-compliant overhaul in the home is ill-advised for these subjects, given their modest budget and limited time for a person with ALS to implement and utilize extensive home modifications. The findings suggest prioritizing modifications to provide function and accessibility in key areas of the home, meeting the subjects' preference for design that doesn't look institutional, maintaining or improving the home's real estate value, and considering possible future needs of the surviving spouse as s/he ages. In the first version of the design, universal design principles and accessibility guidelines are prioritized and strategically applied to maximize autonomy, engagement, and quality of life for the subject living with ALS and the spouse in the role of caregiver. In the second version of the design, universal design principles are applied throughout the home and landscape in a project of larger scope and budget, which would be appropriate for a person who will live in the home long-term.