Universal Design Consultation Guide for Occupational Therapy Practitioners Dr Apeksha Gohil, Monash University

The Universal Design Consultation Guide (UDC Guide) for Occupational Therapists (OT) was developed in the United States as a part of a Doctoral project in 2016. The Guide is intended for OT to consult with clients – service providers, service users, and key stakeholders from diverse contexts, such as housing, healthcare, public spaces to reach targeted universal design solutions in order to provide opportunities for full participation of all potential users. OT’s training in activity analysis, human structure and function, and application of theories of person-environment fit in different contexts qualify them to provide creative solutions to build an accessible community for all users. In spite of the distinct value that OT can bring to the environmental accessibility table, there is limited guidance on how to embark on this new frontier of universal design as an OT. The UDC guide can help provide OT with an evidence-informed step-wise process to work with stakeholders across diverse settings.  This presentation will give an overview of the development process, the lessons learned and the outcomes achieved. The Guide is a 45 page manual and the content is informed by theories and empirical evidence from multiple disciplines, including: psychology, occupational therapy, design, and business management. The Guide is divided into three stages: 1) Educate the client, 2) Needs Assessment, and 3) Recommend UD solutions. Each stage provides resources in the form of PowerPoint, case studies, templates, activity analysis matrix, universal design decision matrix, and worksheets to guide OT through each stage on how to engage different stakeholders to reach universal design solutions. It emphasizes a participatory approach of consulting by engaging multiple stakeholders. The Guide was then reviewed and evaluated by six OT practitioners and students, who discussed the strengths and limitations of the Guide and shared their recommendations in a focus group session. Based on the qualitative findings, three themes emerged from the participant’s feedback – 1) usability of the UDC guide, 2) distinct role of OTs as practitioners, advocates, and consultants of UD, and 3) recognition of OT practitioner’s role among other UD professionals. The UDC guide was revised based on participant feedback and the final revised version is prepared for dissemination.