Rosemarie Rossetti: Tips on Tackling TEDx and Universal Design

We at, were thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with the dynamic Rosemarie Rossetti, after delivering her powerful TEDx presentation. We learned about her journey and tips for those considering such a challenging endeavor.

mW: Could you tell us a little about your background?

On June 13, 1998, my husband Mark Leder and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded bike trail in Granville, OH. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate.  As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. Instantly, I was crushed by a 7,000 pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

mW: What is your profession?

Speaker, trainer, consultant, and author

mW: What are you passionate about?

My family and my work.
Universal Design Living Labratory
mW: Do you have any current projects?

Coming home from the hospital in a wheelchair, I realized how my home intensified my disability.  My husband and I knew that we had to sell our home and find something more suitable. We decided to build our home and the Universal Design Living Laboratory was born. This has been the catalyst for many of my projects.

 My husband and I will be teaching two universal design classes in our home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory in November for Realtors.

My husband and I will be teaching universal design classes in our home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory in the coming months for architects and designers.

I will be delivering a presentation about the landscape at the Universal Design Living Laboratory at the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association Annual Conference with our landscape architect, Bill Gerhardt on December 12.

In January 2019 I will return to the faculty at The Ohio State University and will complete small assignments. Ex. Supervising student teachers

mW: How did you become a TEDx speaker?

In February 2018, I filled out an application to speak and submitted a short video. In April I was notified that I had been selected to speak.

mW: What is the message(s) of your talk?

Using my home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory national demonstration home and garden as a case study, I shared my personal story. I showed the audience the must-know home design features that deliver the quality of life -- and safe, secure lifestyle. I also shared the five “Lessons to Build On” that I learned during the recovery period after my spinal cord injury.

mW: How was your TEDx experience? Any takeaways or advice for those who would like to do a TED talk?

When I was preparing to apply to speak at TEDx, I read the book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” by Chris Anderson the head of TED. There is helpful information on what TED is looking for in a talk as well as tips for delivering a presentation.

I had applied to speak at other TEDx events prior to being accepted to speak at the TEDx Hilliard event that was on August 15, 2018. I suggest that people apply in many cities near where they live rather than at only one TEDx event.

When I was selected to speak, I engaged many of my fellow professional speakers to review my planning documents, script, and slides. They helped me edit my script and slides. I also delivered this talk in front of a live audience, a month before the TEDx program and videotaped it. This gave me footage to share with others and for myself to evaluate. I rehearsed the presentation by delivering it in my home many times with a video camera and a tape recorder. I played the tapes back and continued to time the presentation and tweak the script. It was more difficult than I expected to remember what I wanted to say in the order that I had written it. I added more slides to help me remember the key components and to tell my story. There was so much I wanted to say! I only had 15 minutes to say it.

There were two rehearsals with all of the TEDx Hillard speakers. The feedback I received was integrated into revising my script.

The night of the TEDx talk was a highlight! There were about 300 people in the high school theatre. There were five video cameras capturing the presentation. The stage was well lit and the microphone was projecting my voice. However, the remote control was not responding quickly to change the slides. The audience was very attentive and responded well to the humor that I had included. The applause and feedback that I received that night, was reassuring.

Now that the video is available to watch, I view it with pride.

mW: Do you have any goals for the future? If so, what are they?

Continue to develop my speaking, training, and consulting business finding new opportunities to share my expertise.

mW: What do you do for fun?

Bike, kayak, swim, cook, travel, attend concerts and movies

mW: Anything else that you would like to add?

This is the NEW link for the TEDx video:
Also, we are so excited to be featured in Architectural Digest, "Americans Need Home Design that Welcomes Everyone"
Additional Resources:

For more information on universal design, check out the Universal Design Living Laboratory and Universal Design Tool Kit.

To learn more about Rosemarie, visit

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