Institute for Human Centered Design launching two new initiatives
October 31, 2016 - Front Section
Boston, MA The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), home to the New England Region Center for the American Disabilities Act, is launching two new initiatives, focusing attention on accessibility for an aging population and those with behavioral health and substance use issues. The IHCD, a Boston-based international nongovernmental educational organization committed to advancing the role of design in expanding human opportunity and experience, has recently been awarded a contract to extend for another five years its role as the American Disabilities Act Center for the region. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to continue to serve New England to support those with rights and those with responsibilities under the ADA,” said Valerie Fletcher, executive director of the Institute for Human Centered Design. “There is much left to do, and we are pleased that reviewers strongly endorsed our new additional focus on prioritizing the rights of people 65 and over and those with mental health conditions and who are in recovery from substance abuse issues.” The New England region is one of 10 in the country, funded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, each with an ADA Center with responsibilities for educating individuals and entities to understand their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. The Institute for Human Centered Design has been the New England Region’s ADA Center since 1996 and was awarded the five-year designation again in September. Carrying out the region’s ADA work is among many services of IHCD. Other services, available locally and worldwide, include education and training on accessibility and universal design; a wide range of consulting and design services in built and digital environments; and research with user-experts, people across the spectrum of age, ability and culture. The two new initiatives in the New England ADA Region will address populations and needs that are contemporary and have grown in importance in recent years, as New England’s population ages, along with the rest of the nation’s, and as opioid and other addictions have expanded among the U.S. population. New England is home to the three states with the oldest average populations among the 50 – Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Under the ADA, the rights of aging populations everywhere are covered by the broad protections of the American Disabilities Act, as are those in recovery from substance use. Those rights are not widely understood among the public, nor in some cases among public officials or businesses. A mission of the ADA Center at IHCD is to educate the public and explain those rights anonymously and confidentially. “We will add emphasis and special attention to two neglected categories of people with rights under the ADA for core services and with implications for our research: people 65 and over and people with behavioral health conditions inclusive of mental health and substance abuse,” the Institute’s proposal to the Department of Health and Human Services said. “New England has the oldest population in the nation and, tragically, is the epicenter of the nation’s heroin epidemic,” the proposal emphasized. IHCD’s New England ADA Center provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act tailored to the needs of individuals, businesses, and government at the local, regional and national levels. The ADA Center staff at IHCD fields questions from the public about rights and responsibilities. It holds events and training sessions on accessibility issues. After the passage of the ADA, IHCD developed and disseminated many of the national ADA educational materials that are the federally approved materials, including the ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities, the original ADA Title II Action Guide for State and Local Governments, and the ADA Self-Evaluation Guide for Public, Elementary and Secondary Schools. “Twenty- five years after the passage of the ADA, there has been important progress,” the IHCD’s plan for the next five years noted. “But the goals of ‘maximum community participation’ are far from met. People with disabilities continue to face daily barriers in their lives.” The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), founded in Boston in 1978 as Adaptive Environments, is an international nongovernmental educational organization committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities. IHCD’s work balances expertise in legally required accessibility with promotion of best practices in human-centered, or universal, design. IHCD has been the lead organization in the international universal design movement. IHCD specializes in universal design in the spectrum of disciplines from urban design, landscape and architecture to interior design, industrial design, media and information design. For more, please go towww.humancentereddesign.org . The New England Center provides information, guidance and training to individuals, businesses and government at the local, state and regional level on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to support the mission of the ADA to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. For questions about ADA, please call 800.949.4232 or go to www.newenglandADA.org .