The SAMI Program

Safe and Accessible Modifications for Independence  

In just a few years, one in five residents of Buncombe County will be age 65 or older and in fewer than twenty years (by 2035) projections suggest this ratio will be closer to one in four. According to AARP almost 90% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their home as they age. There will be a big increase over the next 15 years in households requesting home renovations to preserve independence and safety. Agency staff, professionals, and product distributors and retailers will all see an increase in demands for home safety and independence solutions.

To respond to these realities, the Universal Design Institute conducted a series of trainings in Buncombe County in 2019 – 2020 to improve the knowledge and skills of home access modification delivery practitioners and those in related jobs.


The Safe and Accessible Modifications for Independence Training (SAMI) program targeted professionals who were likely to encounter older adults, and others hoping to live safely and age in place. These part-day trainings covered basic-through-advanced information needed for successful outcomes: bath, kitchen, door, window, hardware products; assistive technology; building materials; funding sources; other resources; design solutions for entrances, bathrooms, kitchens, storage; home tech; and more.​

​​These six events were face-to-face trainings teaching how to customize homes to accommodate aging individuals. Three were presented to health care staff: a class of Occupational Therapy Assistant students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College; the Fall 2019 Geriatric Summit; and, the March 2020 Falls Prevention Conference. In addition, we produced three core SAMI events in 2019 and 2020. Between them all, 300 professionals, students, and a few consumers attended. We are very grateful for donated meeting space from Land of Sky, Area Agency on Aging and Goodwill Industries.

Those who attended the trainings have become part of a special “SAMI Trained” referral list that will be available online and made available to all county agencies for dissemination.

The Instructors

Richard 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. Accessibility and Universal Design work has taken him around the country and worldwide.

We were able to enlist the knowledge of key experts as co-presenters: Ali Climo, the Buncombe County Aging Plan Coordinator; Linda Giltz, Community Planner; Jason Ray, from Simply Home; Robert Krollman, from Sky Heart Consulting, and Robert Gurinowitsch, from Best Bath.

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Our generous sponsors and partners


The Ronald L. Mace Universal Design 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's sister initiative, Better Living Design is changing the way homes and home products are designed, built and remodeled to better meet the needs of everyone at every life stage. 

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© 2019 RL Mace Universal Design Institute. All rights reserved.