Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD)

Addresses key research needs and demonstrates the value of evidence-based practice through improved building regulations and adoption of voluntary universal design standards. Short, intermediate, and long-term outcomes focus on improving physical access, health, and social participation for people with disabilities while also being beneficial for the broader population.
rendering of a community showing peole of different abilities

RERC-UD Highlights

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT) 2018-2023

Engages consumers, manufacturers, and service providers in designing, using, and evaluating innovative accessible information services, transportation equipment, and physical environments. The RERC-APT leverages emerging information technologies and addresses the need for consumer-driven solutions that can be rapidly implemented and adapted to a wide range of transportation systems.

University of buffalo smart bus research featuring the olli

RERC-APT Highlights

Field Initiated Project (FIP) on Optimizing Accessible Public Transportation 2017-2020

Evaluates the strengths and limitations of two innovative wheelchair securement systems in actual service: a three-point system, a fully integrated forward-facing system (Q’Pod) and a fully automated rear-facing securement system (Quantum).

Funded by NIDILRR

Q,straint quantum securement system

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) II on Touch Models

Studies the usability of a prototype interactive touch model of the Smithsonian. The objectives include: (1) study the overall usability of a 3D interactive touch model prototype across six demographic groups, (2) assess the value of an adjustable height pedestal for housing the model, (3) study the ergonomics of four distinct angles during user interaction, and (4) utilize user feedback and professional recommendations to improve the design and end user experience.

Funded by NIDILRR

participant using the smithsonian prototype of the interactive touch model

Home-based Stroke Rehabilitation System

Creates a portable rehabilitation system by combining smartphones with 3D-printed functional objects tailored to an individual’s mobility needs. Researchers harness the sensors and networking functions of smartphones to measure specific movements and provide timely feedback to the user.

Funded by NIH

participant testing a prototype stroke rehabilitation system

Evaluation of Accessible Design Retrofits for Semi-detached and Attached Houses

Focuses on housing typologies in need of innovative solutions for the growing population who experience physical, mental, or sensory challenges. Working with Home Innovation Labs, the objectives include: (1) study the typical pitfalls of retrofitting for accessibility in town homes and row houses; (2) identify best practice solutions for overcoming barriers to adoption; and, (3) develop construction guidance to support designers, remodelers, and homeowners in their decision-making and construction processes.

Funded by HUD

Home research labs

Improving Demand Responsive Transportation for All

Discovers and determines solutions for solving usability problems for older adults and people with disabilities in demand responsive transportation. It seeks to identify universal design strategies for transportation network companies (TNCs) and special transportation services (STS) that would benefit all members of society. The long-range outcome of this research is to ensure equitable access to transportation services for all.

Funded by Toyota Social Innovation

older man in wheelchair learning how to use an smart tablet


Anthropometry is the study of the size and abilities of the human body. This long-range program established a database on the size and abilities of over 500 wheeled mobility device users and is available to standards-setting organizations looking to keep their standards current.

Learn more about Anthropometry

Bus lift study


Visitability is a movement to provide basic access to the first floor of private single-family detached homes that are not covered by accessibility laws. It promotes a combination of voluntary and mandatory initiatives that will increase the supply of real estate available to people with disabilities. 

Learn more about Visitability

visitability community

Community Collaborations

We support community development and capacity building in inclusive design through education, outreach, and creative collaborations. Building upon the skills and experiences of community advocates, policymakers, and professionals, our team works with diverse stakeholders to implement universal design in programming, human services, and construction projects. Team members participate in a variety of coalitions, task forces, steering committees, and boards to ensure current and emerging issues of access and inclusion are strongly represented and prioritized.

Aerial view of a city center