Project Staff

Project Director

Steve Demos, RA
Senior Architect
Institute for Human Centered Design

Steve Demos has over 30 years of architectural practice specifically addressing human-centered design and design for people representing all levels of ability. His experience includes design and design review, workshops and teaching, and preparation of manuals and guidelines. Since 1991, and continuing today, Mr. Demos is/has been responsible for design review of pedestrian facilities, including Title II compliance, for the entire Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project - over 65 design contracts covering streetscapes, sidewalks, parks, transit stations, buildings, parking garages, commercial spaces, and water ferry docks.

Other recent work also attests to his expertise in streetscape design. Two years ago he led a community design project for the city of Leon, Nicaragua that entailed redesigning the streets and sidewalks around its Central Square -- the functional and symbolic focal center of the city -- bounded by the City Hall, the Cathedral (largest in Central America), the telecommunications building, and the church school. For this enterprise, Mr. Demos conducted a two-day workshop, repeated three times, that taught the principals of universal design and streetscape design to city officials (including the vice mayor and chief of police), lay persons, architecture and engineering students, and practicing architects and engineers. At the completion of the workshops, the attendees participated in a 2-1/2 day design charette -- the first ever held in Central America -- that he organized and ran.

Much of Mr. Demos' work has been as a designer, reviewer, and critic of streetscapes. In addition to his on-going work with the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project and the recent project in Nicaragua, he has given workshops on sidewalk design to city officials, public works departments, and design professionals. This last December at the Designing for the 21st Century conference in Rio de Janeiro, he gave a paper on the history of the street.

Among other projects undertaken by Steve since he joined the Institute for Human Centered Design are co-authoring a guide to the MBTA for people of all abilities, and the preparation of a manual for RS Means specific to the forthcoming new version of ADAAG.

Mr. Demos has been on the faculties of Harvard Graduate School of Design, Boston Architectural Center, Phillips Academy, and Phillips Exeter Academy as well as presenting many seminars, lectures, and workshops, both in the U.S. and abroad. For five years, he taught a continuing education course in barrier-free design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Mr. Demos has along history in the field of access regulations. In 1973, he compiled guidelines for barrier-free design that later were incorporated into the first Massachusetts access regulations. Later, he served on the review board for the development of the Rules and Regulation of the Massachusetts Architectural Barriers Board. He also was on the review panel for the 1986 revision of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards for Accessibility. These were subsequently used as the basis of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards that in turn became the American with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG).

He was formerly Chief Architect for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development and before that, Chief Architect for the Boston Housing Authority. In these capacities, among other things, he developed project development manuals and design guidelines based on behavioral design and sociological research. One of his books on behavioral based design criteria won a Progressive Architecture Award for Applied Research, and many housing projects on which he collaborated have won state and national awards.

Research & Development

Chris Hart
Project Coordinator
Institute for Human Centered Design

Chris Hart is IHCD's lead staffer for public transit issues as well as the Universal Design at the Urban Scale project. He has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair user. He has used public transit as a key to independence since childhood. Since 2000, he has participated in the Institute for Human Centered Design's transit and pedestrian strategies, tripling IHCD's library collection of transit and pedestrian related reports, books and media. His work on pedestrian issues extends back to adolescence when he served on his town's Commission on Disabilities and the Municipal Space Needs Committee.

Chris has made presentations on pedestrian design at numerous conferences including ICADI, Build Boston, Designing for the 21st Century and America Walks. In Boston, he has worked on and reviewed numerous proposed street designs as well as resolved past work that presented accessibility problems. He has also led IHCD's inquiry into pedestrian surfaces and created the draft Surfaces Fit for People CD-ROM with Kristin Schneider.

Currently, Chris works with Steve Demos on the CA/T project where he reviews the remaining contracts, trains field engineering staff, and catalogs poor construction or non-code compliant sections of the project. He also is IHCD's lead intermediary between the disability community and the various responsible agencies or design teams in matters of transportation.

Prior to joining the Institute for Human Centered Design, Chris worked at the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) on accessibility related matters. His MBTA work was primarily focused on the accessibility of the 150+ bus routes for compliance with responsibilities for stop announcements as well as station access problems. This knowledge was especially helpful as he co-wrote last year's Getting Around: A Guide to Riding the MBTA for People of All Abilities. Augmenting his background is his travel throughout 45 states and his visits to numerous transit systems across the country and internationally. He has documented in photos accessibility features of public transit systems in nine U.S. cities and numerous cities around the world.

Chris's passion for public transit that works for everyone, his extensive exploration of both exemplars and failures in all aspects of public transit and his remarkable grasp of the complex process of making pedestrian environments will provide invaluable assistance to the tasks necessary to complete this project. He will assist with gathering US and international material, identifying gaps and recommending the audiences that should be targeted. A primary emphasis will be in the analysis of existing resources.

Principal Investigator

Valerie Fletcher
Executive Director
Institute for Human Centered Design

Valerie Fletcher is Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston, a non-profit organization founded in 1978 (as Adaptive Environments) committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities. IHCD meets its mission through educational and consulting projects from local to international. Fletcher has co-chaired three international conferences on universal design and writes and lectures extensively. She is honorary Director of the Toto Universal Design Laboratory in Japan. She currently oversees projects ranging from universal design at the urban scale, in public transit, affordable housing and a collaboration with UN DESA on universal design. Her career has been divided between design and public mental health. As Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health in Massachusetts, she oversaw the participatory planning process that redirected $74m from institutional care to community support. She has a masters degree in ethics in public policy from Harvard University.

External Consultants

Billie Louise (Beezy) Bentzen, Ph.D.
Accessible Design for the Blind

Billie Louise (Beezy) Bentzen, Ph.D., Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, taught people who are visually impaired to travel independently for more than 30 years. Since 1980 she has carried out an extensive program of research in the Department of Psychology, Boston College, and through her company, Accessible Design for the Blind, on ways to improve environmental access for people who are visually impaired including such means as large print, tactile, and electronic signs, audible signs, tactile maps, accessible pedestrian signals, visual contrast, and detectable warnings. She has prepared syntheses on Detectable Warnings & Accessible Pedestrian Signals for the U.S. Access Board, and has done, and is continuing to do sponsored research on both topics.

Dr. Bentzen has also traveled widely and consulted with engineers in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan and Australia, that have lengthy histories of making public rights-of-way accessible to people with visual impairments.

She is a member of the Signals Technical Committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and is a member of the American National Standards Institute A117 Committee on Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.

Thomas E. Rickert
(international materials consultant)
Executive Director
Access Exchange International

Tom Rickert is the founder and Executive Director of Access Exchange International (AEI), an NGO with fourteen years of experience in promoting accessible public transport for persons with disabilities around the world. Prior to founding AEI, Rickert was Manager of Accessible Services for San Francisco, California's, bus and subway system, as well as coordinator of San Francisco's door-to-door van and taxi services for disabled passengers. He has provided workshops and presentations in twenty countries. Rickert speaks Spanish, having lived in Costa Rica for six years, and his work in Latin America includes presentations on accessible transport in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Mexico City, San José, Managua, and San Salvador. His interests include access to both urban and rural transport.

Nicole Rivers, MPA
(consultant for project evaluation contact person)
Center for Public Management
Public Management Department
Suffolk University

[The Center for Public Management at the Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University was founded in 1973. The Center offers a range of educational and training programs focused on public and non-profit sector managers as well as research and evaluation services and technical support.]

With a broad range of experience in the non-profit, public and for-profit sectors, Nicole Rivers adds a comprehensive range of skills to consulting assignments. Upon graduation from Bridgewater State College in 1995 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Political Science, Ms. Rivers was awarded a graduate fellowship at Suffolk University in Boston, MA. As a graduate fellow she assisted with the publication of Disabilities Studies Quarterly and worked with a number of organizations including the City of Somerville, Boston Housing and Urban Development, Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, The Boston Public Health Commission and The Boston Coalition Against Violence and Drugs. During the course of these projects Ms. Rivers gained valuable experience in survey research, statistical analysis, fiscal management and project development.

Ms. Rivers received her Master's Degree in Public Administration in 1998 and went on to serve as the project manager of The Lead Paint Safety Initiative for The Quincy- Weymouth Consortium. As project manager she was responsible for community education and training, budget management and quarterly reporting to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In 1998, Ms. Rivers also began consulting for Stackpole & Associates. Over the past eight years she has been involved in market research, survey development, statistical analysis, proposal development and project management. She has developed on-line and written surveys as well as telephone and focus group scripts. Ms. Rivers has been responsible for creating optimal protocols for administrating, collecting, analyzing and reporting on survey data. In addition to consulting for Stackpole & Associates, Ms. Rivers has worked for the past four years as a local government/data consultant for Suffolk University's Center for Public Management. Ms. Rivers has assisted the towns of Plymouth, MA and Georgetown, MA with data collection and strategic planning. She is currently working with the Suffolk faculty and The Boston Public Health Commission to collect, analyze and report on health and quality of life outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Boston EMA.