Category Archives: Thought Leaders

Edward Steinfeld


Director, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA)
Co-Director, RERC on Universal Design in the Built Environment (RERC-UD)
Co-Director, RERC on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC APT)
Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University at Buffalo (UB)
Board of Directors, Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC)

Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, AIA is a registered architect and gerontologist with special interests in universal design, accessibility, and design for the lifespan. At The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), he is a Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDeA Center. Dr. Steinfeld has directed over 30 sponsored research projects, including co-directing the RERC on Universal Design and the Built Environment and the RERC on Accessible Public Transportation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Global Universal Design Commission, Inc. He has over 100 publications and 3 patents. Many of his publications are considered key references in the fields of accessible and universal design; he was a co-author of the seven Principles of Universal Design and the primary author of Universal Design: Creating an Inclusive Environment. He is internationally known for his research and has travelled widely to lecture in many countries.

In 2003 he received a Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), and Progressive Architecture. He received a Ron Mace, Designing for the 21st Century Award and in 2010 he was awarded the University at Buffalo’s second annual Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence. In 2012 he was awarded the rank of Distinguished SUNY Professor, the highest rank for faculty in the SUNY system. He is a frequent consultant to federal and state agencies, building owners and attorneys, and has designed several buildings that are home to many people with severe disabilities.

His current work includes projects on anthropometry of disability, development of universal design standards, design of a new demonstration bus and development of new wayfinding systems for buildings. Dr. Steinfeld is a member of RESNA, HFES, and the AIA.

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John P.S. Salmen


President of Universal Designers & Consultants, Inc. (UD&C)

John P. S. Salmen, AIA is a licensed architect who has specialized in barrier free, accessible and Universal Design for more than 35 years. He is president of Universal Designers & Consultants Inc., an accessibility consulting firm he founded in 1991 that specializes in the field of designing environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities, to the greatest extent possible.

Salmen is one of the leading experts in the technical aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and an international leader in the field of Universal Design. Salmen has authored several books including: Accessible Architecture, The Do-Able Renewable Home,Accommodating All Guests and Everyone’s Welcome, has co-authored Universal Design Tips-Lessons Learned from Two UD Homes and published the internationally acclaimed newsletterUniversal Design Newsletter from 1992 to 2013. He has presented hundreds of Universal Design and accessibility seminars, as well as keynote addresses throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.

Salmen has been a voting member of the International Code Council/American National Standards Institute (ICC/ANSI) A117 Committee for more than 20 years and he serves on the Editorial and Scoping sub-committees for the A117.1 Standards for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. The firm represented the American Institute of Architects on the ADAAG Review Federal Advisory Committee and Salmen was a voting delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. He has served for many years as an appointed member of the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities (MD).

Having earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, he is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). In addition, he is licensed to practice architecture in the State of Maryland. In his capacities as Technical Director of the National Center for a Barrier Free Environment in Washington, DC and his tenure as Director of Technology & Information for the American Hotel & Motel Association, Salmen has been involved in all aspects of design for people with disabilities and older adults. Today, Salmen devotes his time to code development, facility evaluation, design, construction, accessibility litigation, writing, research and teaching. See more at Universal Designers & Consultants’s Website

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Beth Tauke


Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University at Buffalo
Associate Professor, University at Buffalo
Project Director, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA)

Beth Tauke is Associate Dean in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo – State University of New York, Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture, and Project Director in the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA), the leading research center on universal design in the built environment in the U.S.

Professor Tauke is a founder and current editor of Universal Design Education Online, the primary website for UD education. Her publications include chapters in Lost in Space (Birkhauser), The Universal Design Handbook (McGraw Hill), Living for the Elderly (Birkhauser), and Universal Design: Seventeen Ways of Thinking and Teaching (Husbanken) and articles in Building Material, Design Issues, Utopian Studies, Representation, and Foundations in Art, Theory and Criticism. Tauke co-edited Universal Design: New York with Dr. G. Scott Danford, and is currently working on a textbook, Diversity and Design: Understanding the Hidden Consequences with Dr. Korydon Smith and Dr. Charles Davis, which will be published by Routledge in 2015.

Her research focuses on beginning design education and inclusive design’s relationship to the senses. Professor Tauke has served as principal investigator of the Universal Design Identity Program and Bridging the Gap: Increasing Access to Universal Design to Meet the Needs of African American Communities, both sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Professor Tauke’s awards include a National Institute for Architectural Education Award, the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture Robert R. Taylor Award, the Lily Endowment Teaching Fellowship, an NEA Universal Design Leadership Grant, an NEA Creation and Presentation Grant, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2014 President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring

Her primary professional goal is to encourage national and international universities to include courses in their general education or core programs that address the relationship between design and diversity issues. She sees this as an essential element of 21st century education.

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Jordana Maisel


Director of Research Activities, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA)
Project Director, RERC on Universal Design in the Built Environment
Adjunct Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo (UB)

Jordana Maisel, Ph.D., is the Director of Outreach and Policy Studies at the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA), located at the University at Buffalo. She also serves as a Co-Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design in the Built Environment (RERC-UD) and Director of the Training activities of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT). Dr. Maisel is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning at UB. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering/Human Factors at the University at Buffalo, a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University at Buffalo, and a B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University.

Dr. Maisel’s primary interest includes creating a built environment that improves public health. Her current research includes projects on the effectiveness of universal design, policy and planning issues related to inclusive housing design strategies and streetscape design, and evidence based guidelines for universal design. She is the co-author of Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments (Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012). In addition, she is editor of the IDeA Center’s E-Newsletter and is responsible for the monitoring and assessment of RERC programs. Dr. Maisel also has professional experience with facility planning and project management in New York City.

Ms. Maisel also has professional experience with facility planning and project management in New York City.

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Danise Levine


Assistant Director, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA)
Project Director of the Wounded Warriors Home Project
Co-Director of the Home Modifications Project for the RERC on Universal Design

Ms. Levine is a Registered Architect and the Assistant Director at the IDeA Center. She is also the Project Director of the Wounded Warriors Home Project and Co-Director of the Home Modifications Project for the RERC on Universal Design. She holds a Masters degree in Architecture from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York and a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has more than 20 years of architectural practice experience and is an expert in the areas of ADA compliance, universal design, and accessible design. Her experience includes architectural design for residential and commercial buildings, home modifications, ADA compliance audits, accessibility assessments, feasibility studies, and post occupancy evaluations.

She recently was part of a design team with renowned architect Michael Graves and other experts that completed two newly constructed, universally designed homes for wounded veterans at Fort Belvoir, VA. The goal was to create a new model for universally designed housing that could be used at military bases throughout the country. She has also been responsible for designing over 500 home modification projects to improve the living environments for people with disabilities and older adults looking to age in place.

Ms. Levine has made numerous presentations and conducted online webinars on universal design and accessibility. She is also co-author of several publications, including books, technical reports, websites and multimedia presentations.

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Korydon Smith


Director, Arkansas Center for Inclusive Design
Associate Professor, University at Buffalo

Korydon Smith is associate professor in the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo. Smith teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in architectural design, theory, and methods. His primary research investigates the roles that design plays among marginalized groups, while a second line of scholarship investigates alternative models of design education. Smith joined the faculty at Buffalo in 2012 after serving on the faculty in the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas from 2001-2012, where he received the Department of Architecture’s Outstanding Teacher Award four times, the School of Architecture Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, and the Honors College Distinguished Faculty Award. Smith is the lead author of Just Below the Line: Disability, Housing, and Equity in the South (University of Arkansas Press, 2010), co-editor of the Universal Design Handbook, 2nd Ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2010), and editor of Introducing Architectural Theory: Debating a Discipline (Routledge, 2012). Smith holds an Ed.D. in higher education leadership from the University of Arkansas and a professional M.Arch. with a concentration in architectural theory and design from the University at Buffalo.

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Valerie Fletcher


Executive Director, Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD)
Councilor, International Association for Universal Design (IAUD)
Co-chair, Design Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA)

Valerie Fletcher has been Executive Director since 1998 of the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD).  Fletcher writes, lectures and works internationally. She currently oversees projects ranging from the development of a new national website on accessibility and inclusive design in cultural facilities for the National Endowment for the Arts to a wide range of consultation and design services to public, and private entities in the US and globally. She created the IHCD User/Expert Lab which has over 200 people engaged in the evaluation of places, products and services. Her research focus is integrated social and environmentally sustainable solutions for multifamily housing, healthcare, culture, workplaces, and the public realm. Her research focus is integrated social and environmentally sustainable solutions for classrooms, workplaces, cultural venues and the public realm.

Fletcher’s career has been divided between design and public mental health and she is the former Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where she oversaw the largest participatory planning process ever undertaken in a state mental health system.  She was Principal of Fletcher Studio Design from 1978-1985.

She is a Special Advisor on Inclusive Design to the Open Society Institute and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Councilor for the International Association for Universal Design (IAUD) in Japan. She recently completed an international universal design benchmarking project for the government of Singapore and is creating a website on accessibility and universal design for the US National Endowment for the Arts.  Fletcher has a master’s degree in ethics and public policy from Harvard University.  The Boston Society of Architects awarded her the Women in Design award in 2005. She co-chairs the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts.

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Sam Catherine Johnston


Research Scientist, CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)

Sam Johnston brings expertise in peer-based learning models, distance and blended education, and program evaluation to her work at CAST.

With support of the Gates Foundation’s Open Professionals Education Network, she recently led the development of UDL On Campus (–a collection of online resources to aid postsecondary educators in implementing UDL.

Her primary research focus is on the use of networked technology to support peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.  She has conducted design-based research in both professional development and formal education settings.

Before joining CAST, Dr. Johnston was a Senior Associate and Distance Educator at the Center for Social Innovation (c4si), leading the company’s online learning strategy.  She also helped develop a blended learning curriculum for criminal justice and behavioral health professionals to create community-based alternatives to jail for individuals with serious mental illness.

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