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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: U.S. Access Board chair to address Universal Design Council

6/25/2013  2:18:00 PM
Rachel Schulkin  (206) 684-8020

U.S. Access Board chair to address Universal Design Council

When the Northwest Universal Design Council was looking for a national speaker for its July meeting, it didn't have to look very far. Karen Braitmayer, the chair of the U.S. Access Board, an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities and a leading source of information on accessible design, is a Seattle resident.

The public is invited to attend Braitmayer's presentation on Thursday, July 11, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle Municipal Tower Room 4080, 700 5th Ave. (5th & Columbia), in downtown Seattle.

Braitmayer was appointed to the U.S. Access Board by President Barack Obama in 2010. She was elected chair earlier this year.

In the past year, the U.S. Access Board has taken on rail vehicle accessibility, access to shared use paths, access to prescription drug labels, bus ramps, emergency transportable housing, and standards for medical diagnostic equipment. Recently the U.S. Access Board released for public comment proposed guidelines for passenger vessels. Developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the guidelines provide design criteria for large vessels when newly constructed or altered to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines address various features of vessel accessibility and include provisions for onboard routes, vertical access between decks, doorways and coamings, toilet rooms, guest rooms, alarm systems, and other spaces and elements used by passengers. The proposed guidelines are open for public comment until Sept. 23, 2013.

Braitmayer, an architect, is the founder of Karen Braitmayer, FAIA, a Seattle architectural consulting firm specializing in accessibility and accessible design. She advises state agencies, local governments, school districts, other architects, and homebuilders and owners on accessibility under various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act, and on compliance with state codes in housing, commercial, retail, institutional and educational projects.

Braitmayer's own accessible home has been featured in several publications, including "The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages & Abilities" (Deborah Pierce, Taunton Press) and Dwell and Pacific Northwest magazines.

The Northwest Universal Design Council (NWUDC) promotes incorporation of universal design principles, products, and processes in the built environment so that all people can "live actively by design," regardless of age or ability.

For more information, please e-mail Aging and Disability Services planner Irene Stewart at or visit the NWUDC online at

The NWUDC is supported by the Seattle Human Services Department/Aging and Disability Services (ADS), the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County (

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