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Universal Design’s Next Chapter: Challenges & Strategies

Valerie Fletcher

Executive Director, Adaptive Environments : USA

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There is reason to celebrate! An international movement has grown from an earnest band of visionaries. There are leading corporations marketing UD product lines and investing in research. There are governments from cities to state health, housing or transportation agencies - even nations - establishing UD policies that shape development and behavior. Individual practitioners are integrating UD into projects and finding satisfied clients. Students are beginning to see UD as a route to a meaningful career. The media is paying increasing attention.

We deserve to celebrate. But we must use these rare times when international UD zealots convene to generate fresh energy and a renewed sense of urgency. There is work to be done. There remains scant capacity for international knowledge exchange. We have stimulated an appetite for information that we cannot feed. Too few stories are shared, slowing the evolutionary spiral. It is time to expand attention and research to design that enhances the performance of the brain. We are still too often on a parallel track and not setting the design agenda in any discipline. Fletcher will explore strategic collaborations, infrastructure needs and well-timed opportunities for the UD movement to grow and thrive.

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‘Mission Possible’
Creating Community Through Universal Design

Jane Barratt

Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing : Canada

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At no other time in the history of the world will the trends in population ageing challenge our sectors to show leadership and understanding of the positive economic impact of older adults.

The 3rd priority action of the United Nations Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing is ‘to ensure an enabling and supportive environment’. Every person is entitled and has a right to live in an environment that enhances their capabilities. Creating an enabling environment is complex and demands true partnerships. It requires a vision and commitment to meet at the cross roads and across disciplines toward a common goal that has clear measurable outputs for the global community.

Enabling environments hold the key to understanding and explaining the forces that help to shape the character and performance of a community and a nation. Today we have a tremendous opportunity, a substantial challenge and a significant social responsibility to older people across the world.

This address will engage the delegates in a dialogue on ‘the environment as a change agent’ toward improving the quality of life and dignity of people as they age. This conversation aims to challenge our beliefs on growing older in an era of technology and medical advancement.

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