Access to Design Professions

A Leadership Initiative Project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts

Photo of Ron Mace

Access to Design Professions was inspired by and dedicated to the late Ron Mace. The project will find ways that people with disabilities can enter and sustain themselves in the professions of architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. We believe that they will use their personal experience of disability to contribute to great universal design, as did Ron Mace. The current lack of designers with disabilities perpetuates the practice of design that isolates, excludes and stigmatizes people with disabilities. As we evolve our definition and practice of universal design into a more holistic, socially inclusive approach, we need diversity of practitioners.

E-Mentoring here!

Access to the Design Professions Community

What is is the Access to Design Community?

The Access to Design Community is a response to the people who have expressed their desire to find more ways to connect with others who are involved with issues for people with disabilities and the design professions.

We are in the process of reorganizing the website to support and foster a sense of community and to provide a wider choice of options for engaging in Access to Design Professions programs.

What features does the Community offer?

The Access to Design Community offers several opportunities for participation. These include:

  • Careers in Design Web Resources--discover the information you need about design careers.
  • International Designers with Disabilities--connect with design students, and professionals from around the world.
  • One-on-One Mentoring Programs--Access to Design's e-mentoring program that matches protégés and mentors for email-based mentoring relationship.
  • Access to Design E-Forum--web-based discussion groups where Community members can exchange ideas and advice. [under construction]
  • Resources--links and readings about design as it empowers people with disabilities.

Who can join?

The Access to Design Community is as inclusive as possible while keeping its focus on supporting people with disabilities in the design professions. The list below states some of the characteristics of members that this community has been developed for.Currently there is no charge for individuals to participate in the Community.

This site is for students, career seekers, people with disabilities, counselors, families, educators, potential employers, and service providers. We invite people who:

  • Are interested in exploring careers in design.*
  • Have educational or professional backgrounds in design.*
  • Are community college, undergraduate and graduate students considering or pursuing a degree or certificate in design.*
  • Are professionals with backgrounds in design* and interested in mentoring others.
  • Are professionals or students looking for mentoring and support regarding their chosen field or careers.
  • Anyone interested in people with disabilities issues and advancement in design.*

*Design includes architecture, computer-aided design, industrial design, graphic design, information design, interior design, landscape architecture and design, transportation and urban design, web design and related areas.

Join now!

Contact Us

Elaine Ostroff (, Project Director, Coordinator of the Access to Design Community

Ruth Lusher (, Coordinator, E-Mentoring

Want to know more about the Access to Design Professions Project?

Design for Social Justice: Partnerships in Recruiting Students with Disabilities

Design School Survey
A pilot survey about students with disabilities in design schools.

Architecture for Social Justice
Awards program for faculty teaching design studios and/or developing programs that welcome students with disabilities.

Building Careers in Design
Online course and web resources about design professions as careers for people with disabilities.

Building a World Fit for People: Designers with Disabilities at Work This link will open a new browser window.
A book that profiles 21 designers from around the world.


National Endowment for the Arts

Funded in part by the
National Endowment for the Arts This link will open a new browser window.