SDI Brings Universal Design Experts to St. Louis to Promote Inclusive Communities

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Universal Design Summit 6: Inclusive Communities – Housing and Public Spaces, was held November 13-14, 2017 at Saint Louis University. It continues to be the leading conference in North America exclusively dedicated to universal housing and communities.  Organized by the Starkloff Disability Institute in collaboration with Cohen Hilberry Associates, this sixth summit was a huge success!   

Kicked off by keynoters Judy Heumann and Valerie Fletcher talking about the U.S. and International perspectives on Universal Design, the conference opened by demonstrating that UD is here to stay and is spreading worldwide. 

Valerie Fletcher discussed the benefits of Inclusive Design on all of us, also emphasizing the worldwide spread of UD.  Architects Anna Leavey and Vern Remiger outlined the collaboration of design teams and local disability advocates on the design of the new Gateway Arch Museum, set to open in July 2018.  Attendees were impressed by the amount of design changes that were made to the new museum project because of input from local advocates.  This new universally designed museum is well worth the visit, whether you live in St. Louis or want to visit here next year. 

Architect Hansel Baumann from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. shed light on the dramatic importance of design on the communication styles of deaf people, something most architects simply do not have on their radar screen when designing new buildings and outdoor spaces.  It was quite an eye opener!  

The conference also featured dynamic presentations on lighting; UD research; new homes and modifications for existing homes; public spaces like parks and transportation systems; affordable housing; UD principles; age friendly UD criteria; UD in dormitories, recreation areas, museums and historic preservation; and the difference between accessible design and Universal Design. 

A last-minute and very timely subject: Universal Design in Emergency Preparedness and Response was added to the agenda due to the disasters of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. 

The conference hosted more than 150 attendees from across the United States. Many attendees had also attended previous conferences, and were eager to return this time. Continuing Education Units were provided for attendees seeking accreditation from AIA, IDCEC and AOTA.  The excellence of the presentations demonstrates the growth, enthusiasm and quality of information that continues to pour forth in the UD arena. 

The Starkloff Disability Institute wishes to thank our sponsors: AAPR, Saint Louis University, City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission, St. Louis County Office of Planning and Community Development, Missouri Housing Development Commission, McCormack Baron Salazar, The Hartford, Washington University School of Medicine’s Program in Occupational Therapy and HEWI.  Without this support, we simply cannot put on the great conferences that we do.   

More information about the program, presenters and a variety of UD topics can be found at www.udsummit.net    

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