Librarian's Picks: Universal Design.

'Quick picks' from librarians at the National Rehabilitation Information Center.

Universal design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. This definition was coined by Ron Mace, an architect and pioneer of UD. By integrating the principles of UD into the design process, architects, builders, designers, and engineers ensure the usability of technology and the accessibility of environments. The agencies and organizations listed in this guide can help you make your home, your office, even your website accessible to everyone.

For more resources, search the Knowledgebase. You may also download the brochure in PDF format at the bottom of this page. Available in Spanish.


Contact these organizations for information on modification of the home or workplace. You may also contact NARIC for home or workplace modification specialists in your area.

Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance Program — State AT Programs
Provides state AT program information.  Each State is broken down by topic including:  state financing activities, device reutilization, device loan, and device demonstration.

Housing and Building

Center for Universal Design
Develops publications and instructional materials. Provides information, technical assistance, and referrals on accessible and adaptive design. Web site includes a publications list, glossary, and related links. CUD also maintains, a collection of universal design education materials available online.

IDEA Center (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access)
Phone: 716/829-5302
IDEA provides resources and technical expertise in architecture, product design, facilities management and the social and behavioral sciences to further the concept of universal design, or design of places and products that are usable by and desirable to a broad range of people, including people with disabilities and other often overlooked groups.

Toll Free: 800/245-2691
Source for Federal government reports and research literature on accessible design and housing for people with special needs. Publications are available as free downloads or can be ordered in hard copy from the HUD USER web store.

Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD)
Phone: 617/695-1225 (V/TTY)
Offers resource materials on design, accessibility standards, guidelines, and legislation. Web site includes a publications list, ADA resource information, and related links.

National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBS)
Toll Free: 800/843-6522
For homeowners, NKBS offers information on hiring a certified designer, how to find an NKBS professional near you, and a virtual planning tool.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
Toll Free: 800/368-5242
Provides information and resources on the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program, including how to find one in your area, and "What is Universal Design?". 

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
Toll Free: 800/424-8200
Provides publications covering such topics as accessibility, assistive technology, and adaptive design. Website includes design guidelines.
Allows users to search for accesible housing by state, choosing which options best fit their needs. is provided by the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence. The webiste is dedicated to promoting aging in place and independent living for persons of all ages and abilities and serves as an information clearinghouse on home modification for professionals and consumers. To search the National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources, by state, visit, a website hosted by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), provides information about and defines the growing nationwide trend of visitability. The website also provides information about construction, making townhomes visitable, costs, policy strategies, news, and other resources.

Accessible Media

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative 
Phone: 617/258-9741
Works to educate webmasters, software designers, and Internet users about integrating accessibility into design. Resources include guidelines for webpages, webpage authoring tools, browsers, and the media associated with the Internet; discussion forums; links to accessibility laws in the US and internationally.

Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM)
Phone: 617/300-3400
TTY: 617/300-2489
NCAM's mission is: to expand access to present and future media for people with disabilities; to explore how existing access technologies may benefit other populations; to represent its constituents in industry, policy and legislative circles; and to provide access to educational and media technologies for special needs students.


Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
Phone: 781/245-2212
Works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Provides information and resources on UDL, a detailed framework of principles, guidelines, and checkpoints for creating curriculum that supports all learners. Has a variety of learning tools and a separate website for professionals, CAST Professional Learning,

National Center on Universal Design for Learning
Phone: 781/245-2212
Offers information on what universal design for learning (UDL) is, UDL guidelines, and resources for parents and teachers. Connect with different groups, join the discussion forum, or create your own blog.

Please visit these Web sites for additional information:


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