When you think of an accessible space, you might picture a ramp to the side door of a building, big metal grab bars next to a toilet, or a button with a wheelchair insignia that automatically opens doors. But a concept called Universal Design is gaining traction.
It’s an idea that launched in the 1970s and was advanced by Ronald L. Mace, an architect, product designer, and educator whose design philosophy was based on a more usable world. This was an evolution of the 1950s and 60s idea of “access”. Mace envisioned products and a built environment that would serve the needs of people who landed anywhere on the ability spectrum.
There is a non-profit organization named after him in Asheville: the R. L. Mace Universal Design Institute which promotes the concept and practice of universal design.
Anne Glass, Professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She’s also the Coordinator of the Gerontology program there.