UB Architecture Faculty Awarded $120,000 Federal Grant to Develop Online Educational Materials in Universal Design

Release Date: September 29, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Wassim Jabi of Buffalo, assistant professor of architecture in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, has received a $120,000 U.S. Department of Education (DOE) sub-grant through the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University.

The grant, funded by the DOE's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, will support a three-year collaborative project to develop and disseminate universal-design education materials online.

Universal design is the design of products and environments that can be used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of age or physical ability, without the need for adaptation.

UB faculty members in the School of Architecture and Planning helped to develop the concept and were among the first in the world to promote its use. Universal design has since been adopted and promoted by governments, funding organizations and design researchers throughout the world.

Jabi co-directs the school's Center for Virtual Architecture. In addition to publishing teaching materials online, he says his project will involve the development of three-dimensional computer models of universal designs for commercial products like appliances, tools and other kinds of equipment. He says that such models will make it easier for design researchers and manufacturers to evaluate the extent to which their designs promote ease of manipulation by users of different strengths and abilities.

The project team also will develop three-dimensional computer models of environments to permit the evaluation of universal-designs for kitchens, bathrooms, ramps and other physical spaces before building or renovation is undertaken. This will reduce the need for revision of such constructed spaces, offering the potential for considerable cost-saving.

"As part of the project, we also will create an accessible and interactive Web site to serve the needs of universal-design researchers throughout the world," says Jabi. "It also will be of great assistance to those who use these products and to building practitioners who use the designs in their buildings."

Finally, the grant will permit Jabi and his team to create an online journal and discussion groups in the field of universal design.

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with two other members of the faculty of the School of Architecture and Planning: Edward Steinfeld, professor, director of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) and of the UB Rehabilitation and Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Universal Design at Buffalo, and Beth Tauke, associate professor of architecture and project director for the RERC Curriculum Models Project.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.