Abstract : The first objective of this research was to examine the team approach utilized in universal design and the construction of public buildings. The second objective was to explore the current or potential role of occupational therapists (OTs) in this process.
Multiple focused case studies using phenomenological methods and researcher description and interpretation were used for this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six professionals involved in the universal design process as it relates to the construction of public buildings. Participants were selected through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) information hotline as well as through networking within the community. Themes generated addressed the topics of: lack of formal training in universal design, a team approach to universal design, cost-effectiveness of universal design, and significant roles of each team member in the universal design process. Unique findings were also discovered and described. Through qualitative methods, this research describes the interdisciplinary process of integrating universal design in the construction of public buildings. It appears to be an emerging area in all related professions and is an exciting opportunity for OTs.