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Last week the Universal Design Summit 4 (UDS4) was held at Saint Louis University’s Busch Conference/Student Center in St. Louis, Missouri from October 10-12, 2010. Now in its fourth installment, the UDS4 is a national conference that is focused on universal design in housing and communities.

This year’s UDS4 theme was “Creating Livable Homes & Communities.” As North America’s only recurring conference exclusively focused on universal housing and neighborhoods, the conference goal was to bring about community integration and participation while enhancing the independence of all people at home and throughout their daily lives.

UDS4 continues the tradition of providing exceptional content on universal design in housing, sustainable community design, and affordability to create living environments usable by all.

Because universal design is inclusive, attractive, and never obvious-it integrates features that improve function and usability for everyone. It is also a superior approach to design and construction that can be achieved in all house sizes and at all price points.

For three previous conferences, The R.L. Mace Universal Design Institute (UDI) staff has collaborated with The Starkloff Disability Institute (SDI) to provide a unique educational experience showcasing good examples of universal design that can be incorporated into housing and neighborhoods.

This October, the North Carolina and St. Louis based partnership conducted the fourth UDS4. As North America’s only conference focused exclusively on housing and communities usable by all, UDS4 continues a tradition of providing exceptional content on universal design in housing, sustainable design, community design, and affordability.

As in previous years, UDS4 offered learning opportunities through informal discussion, as well as through breakout and plenary sessions. The conference also featured exhibits, design charettes, workshops, and a tour of universally designed housing and neighborhoods.

This year’s UDS4 audience included architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, developers, builders/contractors, design students, non-profit housing organizations, code officials, public health professionals, and other related disciplines. Continuing Education Units were also available for architects and occupational therapists, interior designers, landscape architects, and planners.

In addition, UDS4 responds to the growing need for information about the 21st century customer, home, and neighborhood design issues. The current and future demographics of North America have produced a growing need for housing and communities that better support an individual’s day-to-day activities and are more accommodating as abilities change. The need is great and growing and the trends in home styles have not kept pace. There are 125 million residential units in the United States right now-and perhaps only 15 million of them have significant usability/accessibility features.

The rationale for having a conference like this each year is clear. According to UDS4, there are 60 million people living in the United States with some type of disability, a population bubble of 77 million “baby boomers” moving into middle age, and a group of older adults whose numbers will double by 2030. No domain is more in need of universal design than housing and the communities of which they are a part.

CAPS designated remodelers like Home Evolutions can incorporate the latest universal design aspects like the ones discussed and presented at this year’s UDS4 into your home in order to achieve all of your aging-in-place needs.

Are you following us on Twitter?Home Evolutions will give you real-time updates when our latest blogs are posted, as well as timely information on Aging-in-Place news from around the country.

Read more: Universal Design Summit 4—The Annual Public Forum and Educational Conference for Universal Design

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