There is a great blog post by National Museum of American History curator Katherine Ott to accompany the podcast. Here is an excerpt explaining the origins of the term "universal design":
Universal design rejects traditional "separate but equal" facilities for people with disabilities. The original principles of universal design grew out of a 1974-77 Department of Education grant to architect Ron Mace that involved extensive product and architectural analysis. That lead to a working group to develop core principles for universally-designed facilities, which would provide for equitable and flexible use; be simple and intuitive; present perceptible and sensory information; tolerate error; entail minimal physical effort; and be of an accessible size and orientation. Mace used a wheelchair as a result of contracting polio when he was a boy. His early engineering and design talent resulted in numerous gadgets and adaptations and eventually a career in dismantling architectural barriers.
Listen to the podcast here. Thanks to the Lemelson Center for interviewing me and asking such great (easy ) questions.
In addition to discussing mass-market products like the Cuisinart and OXO, I also mention how people with disabilities themselves altered kitchens and other parts of their houses to make pre-existing spaces work for them. Here are some images from The Toomey J Gazette, the magazine "by and for respiratory polios" that ran from 1958-1969 (and then became the Rehabilitation Gazette). The images show (1) a kitchen sink with the cabinet below cut out to make space for a wheelchair, and a decorative curtain added to maintain a tidy look; and (2) a variety of storage approaches for pots and pans and pantry items, such as lazy susans, pegboards, and wall-mounted racks - all of which were common sights in 1950s/60s households, but here were selected for their particular advantages to people with disabilities. Images are from "Homemaking," The Toomey J Gazette, 1968.