International Conference on Best Practices in
The International Conference on Best Practices in Universal Design was one of six conferences that took place in Toronto between June 5 and June 8 as part of the 2011 Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology (FICCDAT).
Ed Steinfeld, Director of University of Buffalo's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), co-chaired the conference with Aaron Steinfeld, a systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, and Peter Blanck, chair of Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute. Jordana Maisel, the IDeA Center's Director of Outreach and Policy Studies, also played a major role in organizing the event.
Universal design refers to the creation of buildings, products and services that are accessible to people regardless of their age or ability. Besides older adults, such commodities could benefit diverse groups, such as people with disabilities and veterans.
The conference covered subjects including housing and home modifications, along with public buildings and community environments. Through speakers from around the world, poster sessions and discussions, participants learned about best practices, research methods and ways to disseminate information relating universal design. Dr. Kate Seelman, Associate Dean of Disability Programs and Professor of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, and Ed Steinfeld gave an extremely well-attended keynote titled “From Accessibility to Universal Design: A Global Perspective”. The third day of the conference focused on accessible transit, with presentations on broad topics such as barriers to mobility for older people using public transportation, and narrower topics such as a cross-disability study on the usability of ramp slopes. The day's activities doubled as the State of the Science Conference for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Accessible Public Transportation, a multi-year effort that the Steinfelds are leading to study and develop methods to empower consumers and service providers to design and evaluate accessible transportation equipment, information services and physical environments.
The June conference was important, Steinfeld says, "because it explored new and exciting strategies to help support our increasingly diverse population. It brought together professionals and experts from around the world to address critical issues and questions about universal design in a format supporting dialogue and discussion."
To access papers and presentations from the International Conference on Best Practices in Universal Design, please go to: http://udeworld.com/dissemination/conferences.html