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The RERC-UD is partnership between the IDEA Center, the Ontario Rehabilitation Technology Consortium (ORTC) and representatives from the design and disability communities nationwide. The Center researches and develops critical tools for advancing the field of universal design and applies those tools to develop exemplary products and places through industry partnerships. Education and dissemination activities increase awareness of the RERC activities and universal design in general as well as improve capacity in research and practice. All these activities are founded on and guided by a model of "evidence based practice."

One research project of the RERC-UD is to evaluate the effectiveness of universally designed environmental features and provide evidence to support universal design guidelines. A second research project provides new human factors information in areas in which there are critical gaps in knowledge needed to practice universal design. It includes a set of four studies that focus on different aspects of human performance and usability.

A key development project is to create evidence based guidelines for applying universal design in practice. The guidelines are intended to link research to design practice and help designers, builders and manufacturers increase the value of their products and environments. A second development project seeks to produce a suite of evaluation tools for use in design development and evaluation. A third project aims to develop a series of exemplary universally designed products and environments with industry partners.

Training activities: 1) increase capacity for professions in the field of universal design through continuing education, 2) develop and coordinate a consortium of emerging university programs on universal design, 3) provide a comprehensive source for educational resources in universal design, and 4) provide opportunities for advanced study in this field.

The dissemination activities: 1) support dissemination of findings and publications and tools developed in the R&D activities to our target populations, 2) ensure timely and flexible delivery of data and information to all of our stakeholder groups, 3) educate the general public through mass media publications, communities of interest, model homes and an electronic newsletter, 4) organize a conference program to improve networking and communications among stakeholders and 5) develop guidelines for smart products in the home.

The RERC-UD will further the University at Buffalo’s status as a national resource on rehabilitation technology and universal design. Other centers with related missions at the University at Buffalo are the RERC on Technology Transfer and the Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange, both based at the School of Public Health and Health Related Professions. The Center also establishes a working cross border collaboration with rehabilitation researchers in Canada. Participating Canadian organizations in the ORTC are the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.

The Co-Directors of the RERC-UD are Edward Steinfeld, Arch.D., Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDEA Center, and Geoff Fernie, Ph.D., Vice President for Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

For further information contact:
Jordana L. Maisel
716.829.3485 x329

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Project List