Ron Mace, the founder of the Center for Universal Design in Raleigh, North Carolina and creator of the term "universal design," was an articulate architect and determined advocate who influenced international thinking about design. For most of his life he used a wheelchair and understood what it was to try to participate in a world that was not designed to include him. Ron was the consummate champion for accessible and universal design, and the impact of his work will be felt for generations to come.
When he died suddenly in June 1998, Ron had just experienced the extraordinary respect and enthusiasm of the more than 450 people from nineteen countries who participated in the First International Conference on Universal Design. He could see that he had inspired a growing international movement. In his plenary talk at the conference he explained, "Universal design seeks to encourage attractive, marketable products that are more usable by everyone. It is design for the built environment and consumer products for a very broad definition of user." Ron's work at the Center for Universal Design addressed this definition of 'user'. The team that he directed, which included people he had mentored over many years, produced product designs, home plans, publications, and videotapes that exemplified his philosophy.
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