Nearly 20 years ago two architects, one in the US and one in the UK, who’d both acquired functional limitations due to polio, developed an idea about people at the center of the design process. Ron Mace and Selwyn Goldsmith were clear. Universal/inclusive design was not baseline accessibility about people with disabilities but rather a transformational and dynamic design strategy for our time that built on a floor of access. They saw human diversity of ability, age, and culture as definitive of life today and called for concerted leadership to invest in design that makes this new reality work. The demographic facts have only gotten starker. The concepts are more familiar but sustainable visionary practice, at best, scattered. Valerie Fletcher will offer a strategy to spur holistic action for inclusive design that’s practical but energizing, that demands engagement by clients, designers, and users. And she will illustrate success with global examples of methods and results.
Designing with People in Mind
Executive Director, Institute for Human Centered Design
Valerie Fletcher is Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, a global non-profit founded in1978 and based in the USA committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages, abilities and cultures through excellence in design. She writes, lectures and works internationally. She currently oversees projects ranging from consultation and design services in higher education, culture, outdoor areas, healthcare and government to model design projects demonstrating cutting edge practice in inclusive design. She established the User/Expert Lab that provides contextual inquiry research on places and products. Fletcher has a master’s in ethics and public policy from Harvard University. The Boston Society of Architects awarded her the Women in Design award in 2005. She co-chairs the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts and represents North America on the board for the International Association for Universal Design.