I spend a lot of time sending correspondence trying to get people and organizations who have the potential to be major game changers in the building and development industries to listen to what I am saying. I admit it is often very frustrating being blown off or given static responses about ADA compliance or aging in place efforts. The lack of understanding about what universal design is in reference to housing and public spaces is an industry wide epidemic that is evident in every aspect from planning, design & production to the point of sale. I have a cache of stories and email responses to prove this and keep me motivated to educate people. One person associated with one of the largest trade organizations in the US even went so far to say he could see “building houses for those people somewhere else” when I met with him asking about the possibility of collaborating on a subdivision of universally designed homes in a highly sought area.
That line of thinking is a glimpse of one of the main reasons for the slow progression of the universal design movement: discrimination and stereotypical attitudes toward people with disabilities. This evidence for action is the biggest hurdle to overcome because the term universal design has become synonymous with ADA because of being used interchangeably with it. Consequently the mental mindset and visuals that go along with ADA requirements have become obstructions to the movement to the point of people being obstinate about embracing the term, and that evidence is everywhere too.
Then there are those who are starting to listen and this makes it all worth while. Case in point is The American Institute of Architects and I am thankful for their responsiveness and actions. I reached out to them back in November about some things I had found while preparing for a presentation. They took heed and have made some visible and progressive changes in the language on their own website and even changed the name of their upcoming conference based on the things I pointed out to them. While they still have some editing to do in the structure of their course offerings, I am giving them an A for Amen because my prayers are being answered. Thank you, AIA! The ball is rolling.
I have said it a zillion times but will say it again: universal means for all.
See here: https://conferenceonarchitecture.com/
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