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Elaine Ostroff honored with Sir Misha Black Medal

Feb 3, 2004 -- Elaine Ostroff, founder of Adaptive Environments, has been awarded the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education. She serves as an advisor to the Center for An Accessible Society.

Elaine Ostroff: photo
Elaine Ostroff

Ostroff, who founded Adaptive Environments in 1978, is only the third American honored since 1978 when the Misha Black Medal was created by the Royal College of Art, the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry of the RSA, The Design and Industries Association and The Chartered Society of Designers. They were joined by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996.

Previous awardees include Serge Chermayeff (USA), Ettore Sottsass (Italy), Kenji Eduan (Japan), Santiago Calatrava (Spain) and Sir Christopher Frayling (UK).

"Elaine Ostroff has been a persuasive influence on design education at all levels and an indefatigable champion of design that respects the needs and capabilities of older and disabled people, reflecting their aspirations and potential," says Mary Mullin, Chair of the Sir Misha Black Memorial Medal Committee, adding that design education was "teaching those who legislate, finance, commission and produce that thoughtful design can create a more inclusive and better world."

"In 1992, Elaine Ostroff set up the Universal Design Education Project, working with faculty from 25 colleges and universities across the USA," said the awards committee. "She has helped introduce similar schemes in Europe and Asia. She works closely with the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) to encourage the introduction of Universal Design into the teaching of architecture. The ACSA acknowledged this work with an honorary award in 2003." The Global Universal Design Educators Network that she established in 1998 has over 300 members worldwide. She edits a website, Universal Design Education Online (, for design educators which ensures that educators can share their social justice values in the service of a more equitable society.





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