Institute for Human Centered Design Newsletter: March 2017 edition

March, 2017







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Institute for Human Centered Design Updates
March, 2017
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IHCD Welcome's New Board Members
John Czajkowski
John Czajkowski
A native of the Washington, D.C. area, John Czajkowski came to Boston in 2013 to become the Executive Dean for Administration at Harvard Medical School (HMS). As Executive Dean, he managed the day-to-day operations of the medical school, and was responsible for finance, human resources, information technology, buildings and facilities, and other central support functions. Year after year, HMS is rated the top medical school in the world, and its 110-year-old campus is the hub of the Boston's Longwood Medical Area. Mr. Czajkowski brings considerable operational expertise, and years of practical experience that will be valuable to the Board and the Institute as a whole.
Prior to that, he had a 27-year career in the Federal government. Most recently, he was the Deputy Director for Management of the National Cancer Institute, the largest of NIH's institutes and centers. He also held executive positions in the Treasury Department and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. He is an active musician and an ordained minister, and he and his wife Jenny have four adult children
Jennifer Otitigbe
Jennifer Otitigbe Jennifer Otitigbe is an expert in product development practices having worked in all aspects of new product development from concept development to product launch. She currently practices User Experience Design at the MathWorks, where she specializes in human-centered design of software for complex systems. Prior to this role, Jennifer was a staff member at the Institute for Human Centered Design where she worked initially as a Project Manager and then progressed to serve as the Director of User Experience and Research.
Throughout her career, she has worked at the intersections of disciplines because of her belief that it's at the intersections of thought that innovation is found. Jennifer is a graduate of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute and earned a master in science at Stanford University. She lives in Boston.

Welcome New IHCD Staff
IHCD is glad to welcome Jason Angel to the team as Project Manager for Inclusive Public Realm.
Jason Angel_ orange background
Having grown up in the rural woods of Maine, Jason had a love of the outdoors and travel that continued after a car accident in 1990, which left him with a spinal cord injury, requiring the use of a wheelchair. Jason completed an undergraduate degree at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts in travel and tourism. In recent years, Jason and his wife Patty relocated to Ontario where he pursued additional studies. He earned two master's degrees, one in Geography focused on accessible outdoor recreation and one in Planning from the University of Waterloo.

Notes on Blindness
In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and theologian John M. Hull (1935-2015) became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began documenting his experiences on audiocassette diaries. His intimate portrait of his experience as a newly blind husband, father and academic were published in Touching the Rock with a forward by Oliver Sacks (see Amazon to order).
Notes on Blindness_ a film by Peter iddleton _ James Spinney. 4 Stars _a sensitive_ moving and poetic recreation of one man_s experience of losing his signt_ - Dave Calleun_ Time Out. 5 Stars_ _miraculous... a beautiful_ accessible and thoughtful work of art_ - Charlie Phillips_ The Guardian. _audaciously ambitious_ formally inventive... revelatory cinema_ - San Franscisco International Film Festival.....
His unsentimental narrative about what it meant and how it felt has been described as "forensic." An Emmy Award-winning short film Notes on Blindness has now become a documentary film of the same name currently in theaters. The documentary takes an unusual approach to the documentary form. Actors lip-synch to the voices of the family, embedding John's original audio recordings within compelling cinematography and textured sound design. The result is a poetic and intimate story of loss, rebirth and transformation, documenting John's extraordinary journey into "a world beyond sight."
A screening of the 90 minute film will be co-presented by The Docyard and the ReelAbilities Film Festival on Monday, April 3 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge Massachusetts; and will include a Skype Q&A with Directors James Spinney & Peter Middleton. Check out additional screenings held across the US.
For more information:

Exhibition at the Design Museum in London
[NOTE: The New/Old exhibit has closed at the Design Museum London but will tour. An application to host the exhibit can be found HERE, or email for more information.]
NEW/OLD explores the potential for design and designers to enhance the experience of our later lives.
NEW _ OLD exhibit title wall London
About the exhibition
As our population ages rapidly, the exhibition looks at how design can help people lead fuller, healthier and more rewarding lives into old age, asking the question: how can designers meet the challenge of a rapidly ageing society? From robotic clothing to driverless cars, this exhibition rethinks design approaches to ageing.
Curated by Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art, and sponsored by the Helen Hamlyn Trust and AXA PPP healthcare, the exhibition is organized into six sections - Ageing, Identity, Home, Community, Working and Mobility.
Each section features a special design commission by a leading designer or design team, creating new solutions for demographic change as well as addressing the challenges' of ages. New projects by Yves Béhar /fuseproject, Konstantin Grcic, Future Facility, Special Projects, IDEO and Priestman Goode feature in the show. NEW OLD examines how innovation and design can reimagine how we live the later stages of our lives.

IHCD's User/Expert Contextual Inquiry Research is Booming!
NEW Art Works Project
User/Experts in Design School Studio
 Portrait of Sean Solley by Luisa Solley
Portrait of Sean Solley by Luisa Solley

Sean Solley,IHCD's Consulting Designer for Interiors and Acting Director of the Interior Architecture and Design program, is leading the completion of an NEA What Works initiative to give design students exposure to User/Experts in studio. Currently, the schools include Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for Landscape and Interiors, Lesley University for User Experience Design, Mt. Ida College for Interior Design, UMASS Dartmouth in Graphic Design. Sean ran the initial precedent program at New England School of Art and Design.

IHCD is also currently undertaking User/Expert analysis, our contextual inquiry research method, with a set of clients. They include the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (physical and digital analysis), and the Massachusetts Cultural Council's UP initiative. Real people in real environments will generate insight and build data to inform design decisions.

Featured Publications

Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequity
By Meryl Alper
Mobile technologies are often hailed as a way to "give voice to the voiceless." Behind the praise, though, are beliefs about technology as a gateway to opportunity and voice as a metaphor for agency and self-representation. In Giving Voice, Meryl Alper explores these assumptions by looking closely at one such case-the use of the Apple iPad and mobile app Proloquo2Go, which converts icons and text into synthetic speech, by children with disabilities (including autism and cerebral palsy) and their families. She finds that despite claims to empowerment, the hardware and software are still subject to disempowering structural inequalities. Views of technology as a great equalizer, she illustrates, rarely account for all the ways that culture, law, policy, and even technology itself can reinforce disparity, particularly for those with disabilities.
Alper explores, among other things, alternative understandings of voice, the surprising sociotechnical importance of the iPad case, and convergences and divergences in the lives of parents across class. She shows that working-class and low-income parents understand the app and other communication technologies differently from upper- and middle-class parents, and that the institutional ecosystem reflects a bias toward those more privileged.
Handing someone a talking tablet computer does not in itself give that person a voice. Alper finds that the ability to mobilize social, economic, and cultural capital shapes the extent to which individuals can not only speak but be heard. (From MIT Press)
Click HERE for more information about Dr. Meryl Alper.

Harvard's Joint Center Housing Paper
Contrasts with Accessible Version of
UK Housing White Paper

Fixing Our Broken Housing Market

This white paper sets out government's plans to boost the supply of new homes in England.
It includes measures to ensure we:
  • plan for the right homes in the right places
  • build homes faster
  • diversify the housing market
  • help people now

SAVE THE DATE: March Lunch & Learn

Todd Hanson:
Learning Not to Walk + Access Portsmouth
Part one: Learning Not to Walk - Lessons learned from an architect who has experienced mobility transformations. As a child, most of us instinctively learn to walk. When that ability is taken away in adulthood, the process isn't so simple. Todd will share his experiences when a rare neuromuscular disease took him from being a Boston Marathoner to becoming clumsy, to using a walker and eventually a wheelchair. Along the way he discovered the realities of mobility impairments. For an architect who knew the ADA and accessibility codes well, living it has been an eye-opening experience.
Part two: Access Portsmouth - After experiencing countless frustrations in an attempt to enjoy dining and culture in his hometown of Portsmouth, NH, Todd hatched an idea to create a simple web-based guide to this historic and vibrant seacoast destination. Anne Weidman, a colleague, stepped in to become the voice and mobility of Access Portsmouth, working with Todd to inspect and review restaurants, bars, breweries and attractions for accessibility to all people. This model is being studied by other towns and regions for replication, and is spreading the spirit of inclusiveness and awareness across New England and beyond.
Wednesday, March 22nd 2017
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
200 Portland Street | Boston
Let us know your interested HERE!
Todd Hanson, AIA
Todd is an architect who prided himself on doing what it took to gain real empathy toward all who would experience his designs. "It wasn't until I became disabled that I could truly appreciate all that I didn't comprehend in regards to barriers, accessibility and inclusive environments." As principal at JSA Inc in Portsmouth, NH, Todd leads the healthcare design studio. For several years he chaired the BSA's Healthcare Facilities Committee and has focused his career on tailoring environments to meet the emotional and physical needs of disparate users.
Anne Weidman
Anne leads the marketing effort at JSA Inc. She has served on the board of a brain injury center, and recently became a sighted guide for blind ice skaters. As the 'Inspector General' she works directly with business owners and managers, being sure that Access Portsmouth reviews are accurate and acceptable.

Announcements & Resources

UK Design Council Undertakes Transform Ageing Initiative
With funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Design Council is pioneering a design-led approach to catalyzing innovation that people need. The program aims to ensure that the best innovations in products and services reach people in later life as quickly as possible and transform their experience of ageing.
Find out more HERE.

Boston, World Trade Center - April 4 & 5
Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) to Sponsor Educational Sessions
ADA Standards for Accessible Design:
What Medical Centers Need to Know
Presenters: Kathy Gips, Director of Training
Stacy Hart, Technical Assistance Specialist,
IHCD's New England ADA Center
Drawing from our work with Boston-based medical centers, we will discuss key aspects of the ADA Standards that are confusing or often overlooked. Do you know which of the following needs to be wheelchair accessible: sinks in exam rooms, sinks in cafeteria kitchens, sinks in laboratories and/or sinks in employee break areas? Do all single-user toilet rooms need to be accessible or just a percentage? We will review the U.S. Access Board's accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment and the Department of Justice's guidance for design of medical facilities.
Human-Centric Lighting: What does it mean and how do we provide it in practice?
Presenter: Patricia Rizzo, MSc, IES, LEED AP
Senior Lighting Applications Developer
Lighting Solutions and Services (LSS)
Philips Lighting Research North America
Human-centric lighting is lighting devoted to enhancing vision, wellbeing and performance individually or in some combination. As such, human-centric lighting must consider the effects of light exposure on both visual and non-visual aspects of human physiology in a lighting design - and lighting design is increasingly called upon to support circadian, or non-visual, needs for users across societal segments. Home or hospital, office or classroom, recognition that disruption of 24hr rhythms can impact mood, alertness and performance presents new challenges to development and deployment of lighting systems. The awareness and scientific evidence that people need the right light at the right time for their health and wellbeing has grown considerably in recent years. As such human-centric lighting starts to play an essential role in creating environments that look beyond illumination. This presentation will look at the broad umbrella of human-centric lighting, explain circadian light, show examples of application techniques, and look at the tools and technologies available to support both.
Welcoming campuses: Wayfinding that Works for Everyone
Moderator: Valerie Fletcher, Executive Director, IHCD
Presenter: Ruth Super, Associate AIA, LEED AP
IHCD's Universal Design Wayfinding Specialist
During a time when attracting students and cultural, gender and social divisions are pressing issues in higher education, wayfinding often takes a back seat or is an afterthought in the design of a campus or facility. Super, IHCD's Universal Design Wayfinding Specialist, will present on how a multi-sensory approach to the design of a comprehensive wayfinding system can go a long way in setting a welcoming, inviting and user-friendly tone. By balancing extensive research with a focus on design decision-making she shows how to achieve design that not only facilitates learning, but design that also communicates that all students, staff and visitors are welcomed and supported. Super's session begins with a look at the wayfinding needs that are innate in all of us. It focuses on the different audiences and their journeys through facilities, laying out the design and behavior issues that need to be considered, including planning for arrival, orientation on site, exterior wayfinding, interior wayfinding, and user participation in facility design, and more.
Comprehensive Analysis of Accessibility Compliance as a Tool for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Two Case Studies
Presenters: Valerie Fletcher, IHCD Executive Director
Neda Norouzi, B.Env.D, M.Arch, MURP, PhD
Campus Design and Planning, Virginia Tech
The 'new normal' includes a higher proportion of atypical students who may be older, international students or immigrants, veterans, have families, and are more likely to pursue an education that is a hybrid of traditional live classes and distance learning. At the same time, the prevalence and profile of disability in college and university communities is changing. Staff and faculty have a higher proportion of people over 55 and students with disabilities are predominantly presenting - whether disclosing a disability or not - with brain-based conditions or chronic health conditions. "Just tell me what I have to do" isn't enough.
Fletcher will use a case study of a comprehensive consultation in Atlanta to illustrate how to:
  • Understand current expectations for public and private entities under ADA, Fair Housing, and state accessibility codes.
  • Understand the value of considering compliance as a floor and committing to enhanced usability and inclusive design to improve performance and well-being for everyone.
  • Learn to unravel the distinct challenges of evaluating "program accessibility" as the means to prioritizing facility renovations.
  • Appreciate the multiple strategies that make sense for evaluating accessibility for the out of doors.
  • Learn to assess how to plan for building organizational capacity that will support reliable performance after the consultation is completed.

IHCD Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the World Blind Union
IHCD has recently signed an MOU with Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer, of the World Blind Union headquartered in Toronto. The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members are organizations of and for the blind in 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. IHCD will be working with WBU on design issues ranging from public spaces, transportation and buildings to inclusive technology.

Paralympics Back in Tokyo
Japan's Prime Minister Abe has signed the Universal Design 2020 Action Plan to redouble their efforts to design Japan for an inclusive society. International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven praised the decision. It is already being discussed as the first legacy commitment from the 2020 Olympics. The 1964 Tokyo Games hosted the first Paralympics and this is the first Olympics in Japan since.
Find out more HERE.

Become A User/Expert

Are you over 65 years old, have a functional limitation or disability and are interested in helping with research studies?

IHCD is currently recruiting participants for short paid research studies. Studies include evaluating public facilities and parks, train stations, websites, applications, and occasionally products and assistive devices.
How You Can Apply
Please complete our online form HERE!
To request a hard copy form or please contact us below.
Maggie Austen
Coordinator, Public Programs and the User/Expert Lab

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We invite you to consider IHCD in your giving plans. We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization so your full donation can be taken as a tax deduction. A great deal of work, especially those projects working on inclusive design with low-income communities in the US and developing nations around the world, are not supported by contract or foundation support.


Your gift can help keep that important work alive. IHCD welcomes your support at any level and can accommodate gifts of both cash, stocks through our Fidelity brokerage account, and other forms of assets. If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Gabriela Sims at or she can be reached at (617) 695-1225 x222.
Thank you for your consideration!

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