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.

What is SAMI?

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.

With major funding from Buncombe County, The Universal Design Institute will conduct a training series in Buncombe County in 2019 – 2020 to improve the knowledge and skills of home access modification practitioners. The first event will take place in November. Other events will be scheduled for 2020. 


The Safe and Accessible Modifications for Independence Training (SAMI) program will conduct training activities for professionals who are likely to encounter older adults, and others,  hoping to age in place and will involve a series of part-day trainings that will cover essential information needed for successful home mod outcomes: needs assessments, design and product information, building materials, funding sources, other resources, entrance, bathing, kitchen, home tech, and much more.


Our target audiences for SAMI include industry stakeholders such as

  • home builders,

  • remodelers,

  • housing developers,

  • architects,

  • realtors, and

  • home designers.


Others who should attend 

  • staff from public and nonprofit agencies,

  • those who do intake on these households,

  • those who provide home health or homemaking services,

  • those who provide clinical health services,

  • occupational and physical therapists and

  • those engaged in discharge planning from hospitals or nursing homes.

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

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.

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