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2nd Annual Universal Design Day at NAHB/IBS 2012

by Louis on February 6, 2012

I‘m heading to Orlando this week for the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builder’s Show. I will be part of the second annual Universal Design Day education and show floor tours. Last year’s activities were very well received so we are repeating it.

There are two parts. One is education and networking in the 50+ Lifestyle Central, room 314 A-B near the show floor.

The second is UD tours of the show floor. The experts tour small groups of builders to booths on the show floor that have Universal Design products. The booths are prepared with handouts and talking points to educate the builders. We organizers have helped the manufacturers to prepare their materials and presentations. Everyone involved learns from each other.

This year’s heavy lifting was done by passionate environmental gerontologist Esther Greenhouse and energetic architect Amy Martino of Building Site Synergy. These folks did triple duty overtime pushing committee members and manufacturers and working with Patricia Lynn Basso, NAHB staff assigned to UD day. We owe them big time.

There have been frustrations as we tried to help manufacturers focus on Universal Design instead of defaulting to accessibility. For many the distinction is subtle. Esther put together points, expanded by Amy and others and provided to the manufacturers. Here are Esther’s points.

Please remember that Universal Design is not the same as accessible design or aging in place. The best way to see the differences is:

  • Aging in Place is a GOAL for a lifestyle.  It needs services, policies, and design to make it a reality.  Design approaches include UD, accessible, and adaptable design.
  • UD is a design approach, which is a component of achieving AIP.  While UD helps older persons & persons with disabilities, it may not meet all their needs (add adaptable and/or accessible), but it also meets the needs of many more people than accessible or adaptable alone.
  • One of the most important aspects of UD is that it has broad market appeal.  By making sure we design to be inclusive, we meet the needs of people who may need some extra support temporarily or long-term, but we also benefit everyone by making it beautiful and easier for all abilities every day.

It will be fun to be among my colleagues and working to increase our ranks!


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