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Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. author Universal Design Toolkit: Time-saving ideas, resources, solutions, and guidance for making homes accessible

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    Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. author Universal Design Toolkit: Time-saving ideas, resources, solutions, and guidance for making homes accessible

    United States

    I’ve always had the innate desire to be a teacher. Whether I’m presenting information, encouraging interaction, or listening with an empathetic ear, I intend to improve the lives of others as they make their way in the world. It is my passion.

    I was very fortunate to have had role models who made a positive impact during my formative years. They have solidified my desire for making the world a better place.

    Living with my older brother Richard, who had a developmental disability, prepared me to be an advocate for people with disabilities. I frequently attended events with him and was introduced to many of his friends who also had intellectual as well as physical challenges.

    It’s natural to develop empathy in that environment. Empathy has grown to compassion. More than understanding – the desire to help.

    At The Ohio State University as an undergraduate, I majored in horticulture and agricultural education. After teaching horticulture at a vocational center for three years, I returned to OSU to complete my M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural education. Later OSU welcomed me back to join the faculty where I taught courses in teaching methods and communication for eleven years.

    Eager to expand my horizons, I founded my presentation skills and train-the-trainer business, Rossetti Enterprises Inc. in January 1997, focused on the corporate market.

    Life changed in an instant on June 13, 1998. While riding my bicycle with my husband Mark Leder, a 7,000-pound tree came crashing down on top of me, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down. The experience was surreal! My life was drastically altered.

    My business was put on a long pause. This was the time for me to decide what I would do to recover. My quest was to take back my life. What got me through was the love and support from Mark, family, and friends boosted by my positive attitude, hard work, and perseverance.

    There were many pivotal points in my recovery. The most influential turning point came after reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It was then that I realized the meaning of life was rooted in a mutual love of family and friends.

    At the precipice of reinvention, I had to discover how to function with my limitations due to the spinal cord injury. Among the things I had to learn to do differently was to drive a van with hand controls, ride a three-wheeled recumbent bicycle, ski using a monoski, play tennis in a wheelchair, and swim laps using mostly my arms. I learned how to maneuver in the world from my wheelchair and charted a new path.

    While at the rehabilitation hospital, friends encouraged me to keep an audio journal each day to record what I was experiencing and thinking. They also recommended that I start writing and speaking about the wisdom I was attaining. As I lay in bed thinking about my future, I focused on how I could make a significant positive difference in the lives of others.

    Eventually, I started sharing what I was learning. My keynote speeches and in-depth articles took on the themes of adapting, thriving, resilience, coping with change, and dealing with adversity. I wrote and published the book Take Back Your Life! in 2003 which revealed my “5 Lessons to Live By.”

    From the time of my injury, it was apparent the home Mark and I had lived in since our 1995 wedding was not conducive to life in a wheelchair. Consequently, in 2003, we contemplated moving to a home that would be accessible.

    After a fruitless investigation of the real estate market, we started researching what features an accessible home needed. We gathered stacks of books, articles and floor plans, then interviewed people in the know. We hired an architect in September 2004 to draw the plans for our new home. Little did we suspect what a HUGE project we were about to undertake!

    In January 2005, eight people in our mastermind group gave Mark and me the idea and inspiration to build a national demonstration home and garden. They recommended it be accessible, sustainable, open to the public, and display the latest technology. They suggested we also invite corporate contributors and that I speak and write about the entire experience. That was one BIG idea!

    The herculean project of securing a construction site and loan, obtaining contributors, designers, and contractors, and serving as the general contractors was overwhelming for Mark and me. The construction of the home took 32 months. Our home received three universal design certifications and two green building certifications. We moved into our Universal Design Living Laboratory in May 2012. www.udll.com 

    Throughout the construction and since moving in Mark and I have conducted tours and delivered classes to several thousand people at our home. We also teamed up to write and publish our book, the Universal Design Toolkit in 2017.

    During my travels around North America, I’ve had a front-row seat to the accessibility (or lack thereof) of hotels, meeting and event venues, workplaces, apartments, condos, and homes. This goes beyond just the physical space. Equally important is how people who interact with those with disabilities can better serve and meet their needs.

    My “dual mobility” life (abled, then disabled) gives me unique qualifications and perspective. This extensive lived experience and insight have translated to helping people and corporations more fully accommodate those with disabilities.

    I enjoy cooking and eating great food that I prepare as well as food at accessible restaurants. My husband and I kayak and bike together in the spring, summer, and fall throughout Ohio. We extend business trips so we can vacation in the destinations where I am booked to speak. I also enjoy going to botanical gardens and zoos. I look for accessible venues like amusement parks and places to shop. Mark and I love to dance.

    I find myself being asked the question, “Why do you do what you do?” during interviews. My answer is, “I want to make a significant positive difference in the lives of others.”

    Upon reflection, it becomes apparent to me that life after my injury has given me a heightened perspective of caring for and helping others.

    As a person with a disability, I have had first-hand experience navigating a world that is not always accessible.

    I have the talent, skills, and passion as a speaker and writer to inform and motivate others. Why not me? I can lend my voice and written words to make people aware and show possibilities that will make life easier.

    Disability Inclusion & Accessibility Consultant

    Inclusive Meetings and Events for Corporations, Organizations and Associations 
    Influence and Motivate Your Attendees by Managing & Embracing Change 

    • Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise
    • Certified Living in Place Professional
    • Certified Senior Home Safety Specialist
    • Certified Tourism Ambassador - Experience Columbus
    • Instructor of the Year – Columbus REALTORS® – April 2016
    • Tourism Partner of the Year – Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau – March 2016
    • Proclamation from the Ohio Senate – December 2014
    • Unsung Hero Humanitarian Award – People of Distinction Foundation – October 2014
    • "20 Outstanding Women You Should Know in Central Ohio" – February 2008
    • National “Roll Model”: Discovery Through Design, a New York City fashion show fundraiser for spinal cord injury research – February 2007
    • Ms. Wheelchair Ohio – 2004
    • Winter Olympic Torchbearer in Columbus Ohio – 2002
    • Remarkable Women Award – 2002
    • National Speakers Association, Ohio Chapter Award – 2002
    • Woman Business Entrepreneur of the Year – 1999
    • Women in New Growth Stages – Women Honoree Award – 1999
    • Franklin Park Conservatory – Recognition of Service Award - Board of Trustees – 1999
    • The Ohio State University College of Agriculture Teaching Award – 1995
    • Rossetti Enterprises LLC - Columbus, OH
      President: January 1997 - Present
    • Fortuna Press - Columbus, OH
      President: April 2003 - Present
    • Rosewell Publishing Inc. - Columbus, OH
      President: October 1991 - September 2000
    • The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH
      Taught courses in oral expression, teaching methods, instructional media, and marketing.
      • Instructor: October 2018 - Present
      • Assistant Professor: July 1990 - January 1997
      • Vocational Education Consultant: October 1987 - June 1990
      • Instructor: September 1986 - September 1987
      • Graduate Teaching Associate: September 1978 - June 1982
    • Stanford Interior Gardens, Inc. - Columbus, OH
      Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Certified Interior Horticulturist: July 1978 - September 1986
    • Delaware County Joint Vocational School - Delaware, OH
      Horticulture Instructor: August 1975 - July 1978

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    SPECIAL EVENT Homes that Make Life Easier & Support Aging in Place with Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

    Take a behind-the-scenes virtual tour of the top-rated universal design home in North America, the Universal Design Living Laboratory. www.udll.com This home received universal design...

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