About Building Careers in Design




Building Careers by Design uses distance education/technology and the Internet as an effective way to place needed information and learning opportunities on the desk of individuals within the target audiences. These include counselors and other staff who work with individuals with disabilities as well as young people with disabilities, their families, employers, educators, and career counselors. The course is provided as a continuing education distance learning resource of the Interwork Institute.



The course and related web resources have two major objectives:

  • The Course provides support staff in career development for people with disabilities with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the educational and employment needs of people with disabilities to attain quality careers in design.

  • The online public web resources provide and introduction for people with disabilities, their families, employers, educators, vocational counselors, and career counselors to the design professions as quality careers for people with disabilities.



The Institute for Human Centered Design works closely with San Diego State University's Interwork Institute to provide these services.

The Institute for Human Centered Design is a world leader in universal design education and is also the New England ADA and Information Technology Center. The Boston-based organization initiated the Access to Design Professions project in 1999. The Institute for Human Centered Design is a national technical assistance provider for the Fair Housing Act.

San Diego State University's Interwork Institute This link will open a new browser window., the Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program in Region IX has been a provider of online education to practicing rehabilitation counselors for the past eight years. Interwork Institute provides training throughout the Pacific Basin, Asia, South America and Europe.

The Rehabilitation Services Administration This link will open a new browser window. supplied funding to develop the curriculum for the Building Careers in Design program through its National Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center This link will open a new browser window., which administers RSA's technical assistance grants program.



Elaine Ostroff, Founding Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, co-founded the organization in 1978. She directs the Access to Design Professions Project, the Global Universal Design Educator's Network and was senior editor of the Universal Design Handbook. An educator, she has been involved with accessible and universally designed environments on a national and international level since 1971. She has a master's degree in education from Harvard University and was a recipient of a Radcliff Institute Fellowship. She lives in Westport, Massachusetts.

Daniel G. Hunter, Associate Director, Access to Design Professions, completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in landscape architecture with assistance from his state vocational rehabilitation agency. He also holds a BA in French, and he taught elementary school until disability and restrictive design made that impossible. He conducted the initial research with designers with disabilities and is a co-author of Building a World Fit for People: Designers with Disabilities at Work. He became interested in design when he noticed that the built environment interfered with his parenting two active daughters. He is a co-instructor of the online course. He lives in Springfield, Oregon.

Jacklyn Butcher, lives in Santa Barbara, California and is a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the California Department of Rehabilitation. She is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, with a Bachelor's degree in Law and Society from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from San Diego State University. In addition to her counseling responsibilities, her interest in creative ideas for change has resulted in membership on Department task force committees and workgroups over the years. One committee project closely related to the Building Careers in Design course is the development of the current Individualized Plan for Employment adopted by the Department.


Building Careers in Design Web Resources

These graphic Design Resources are in a fully accessible format and available for public use. They describe the major design fields, including work produced in each field. There is an overview of studio-based education and studio-based workplace conditions, with examples of adaptations made by successful designers with disabilities. They illuminate design education and the various career paths taken to become a design professional, including biographical sketches of designers with disabilities in various fields.

Web Resources


Online Course

Design fields are often overlooked as career options for people with disabilities. This six week online course will explain the exciting range of careers in design that blend interest in the arts with technical skills and knowledge. Vocational rehabilitation counselors, disability services staff in higher education, and career counselors will gain knowledge, skills and resources to develop design related IPEs (Individual Plan for Employment) and increase successful placement in high quality careers that include options for self employment.

The course will introduce multiple career options in design, ranging from architectural drafters to web designers, presenting a variety of educational options along with jobs outlook in design. Counselors will learn the basics of universal design, and how it leads to more inclusive communities. Biographies of successful designers with disabilities will illustrate ways that people have adapted to the unique aspects of design studios as workplaces. Counselors will learn why design professions and people with disabilities are a good fit. Vocational Rehabilitation counselors successfully completing the course may earn 30 CRC credits.