On Demand: Fostering Social Equity Through Universal Design

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The most successful public spaces are those that provide users of all ages and abilities a sense of safety, security, and engagement. These are the environments in which true inclusion happens and community ownership is strong, resulting in a community asset that people will cherish, support, and protect. Many parks departments today face the challenges of reduced funding and fewer resources yet still need to provide environments in which all visitors can fully participate. One way is to apply universal design strategies that enable and empower a diverse population, improving usability, safety, health, and social participation.

During this session, you will examine current data on how the world population is aging and encountering disabilities in all age groups, resulting in the need to create recreation spaces that support people in a greater way. Case study examples will illustrate universal design characteristics and benefits. You will develop a tool-kit of best practices in universal design that you can implement within your parks and play spaces that will ultimately contribute to social equity and social sustainability in your communities.

You'll learn about:

  • The difference between the medical and social models of the definition of disability
  • Concepts of social equity and social sustainability in the context of parks and playground environments
  • The eight Goals of Universal Design
  • Universal design strategies to create a park that goes beyond accessibility and encourages inclusion
  • How social equity and social sustainability goals are critical to the long-term success of parks, and how universal design can help achieve these goals


Group viewing:  any organization, firm, or agency may purchase these products for group viewing. Group viewing is limited to the product being viewed on 10 different computers or points of access. No limit is set on how many people can view the product on each of the 10 computers or points of access.

Your viewing access to this product is for 6 months after the point at which you first activate the product for viewing.

About the Speakers

Jordana Maisel
Jordana Maisel, Ph.D., is the Director of Research Activities 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 and 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. She is the co-author of Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments (Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012).

John McConkey
John McConkey serves as Market Research and Insights Manager at Landscape Structures. He brings over 15 years of experience in the healthcare field, and offers a unique perspective on inclusion, health, fitness and children’s play on the playground. John has researched and tracked societal and industry trends to help create innovative playground design solutions. John develops and delivers IACET and LACES approved continuing education programs throughout North America and internationally. The focus of his recent programs include playground accessibility and inclusion, designing playgrounds to maximize physical activity, reconnecting children with nature, and environmentally sustainable playground design.