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The Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute (The Institute) is a non-profit organization based in North Carolina dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of accessible and universal design. The Institute's work manifests the belief that all new environments and products, to the greatest extent possible, should and can be usable by everyone regardless of age, ability, or circumstance. The Institute advances the concept of universal design in all design disciplines, including housing, public-use buildings, outdoor and urban environments and related products.

The Institute:

  • performs design assistance and design development

  • applies research to generate design solutions appropriate for the widest diversity of users

  • evaluates existing products and buildings

  • collaborates with builders and manufacturers on the development of new design solutions

  • develops and distributes educational publications and instructional materials -- tools most useful for professionals wishing to practice universal design and to individuals and families needing to learn of options and opportunities

  • conducts training globally to increase knowledge of the application of universal design


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Executive Director

Richard Duncan is the Executive Director of the RL Mace Universal Design Institute. Mr. Duncan has spent over 35 years in the field of architectural and product accessibility and universal design in residential, public, and transportation environments. He has extensive experience in the design, costs, materials, and products in residential and non-residential settings. His work includes the issues
of affordable housing and home and repair financing and transportation accessibility as well as community design for constituencies that include people with disabilities and older households. He has conducted and managed numerous accessibility assessment and compliance projects over four decades in public, commercial, and outdoor environments. Richard’s work on Fair Housing and the
ADA extend back to the early 1990’s. Accessibility and Universal design work has taken him around the country and worldwide. He created the nation’s only conferences that address universal homes and communities, Universal Design Summit and Universal Design Today.

He is editor of A Blueprint for Action, and was project director of Access Boston: Design Guidebook for Barrier Free Access, the nation’s first urban design guideline for accessibility. Mr. Duncan contributed to NAHB’s Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) course and helped conduct the very first CAPS training. Richard is one of two primary authors of NAHB’s Universal Design Build (UDB) course. He was the first approved UDB instructor in the country. He is the 2003 recipient of the Icons of the Industry Award from the Senior Housing Council (now, 50+ Housing Council) of the National Association of Home Builders. Richard heads the RL Mace Universal Design Institute and is Executive Director of the Better Living Design Institute. Before that he spent 24 years working in two of the nation’s preeminent organizations in the field, the Adaptive Environments Center (now, the Institute for Human Centered Design) in Boston and The Center for Universal Design in North Carolina.



Digital Media Manager

Dani Keith brings over 10 years of creative experience and will work closely with Richard to create new engaging content for the website, newsletters, and social media.




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