• Institute for Human Centered Design Institute for Human Centered Design


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Mission Statement

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), founded in Boston in 1978 as Adaptive Environments, is an international non-governmental educational organization (NGO) committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities through excellence in design. IHCD’s work balances expertise in legally required accessibility with promotion of best practices in human-centered or universal design.


The Institute for Human Centered Design has chosen to use the term "human centered design" as the most representative of our philosophy. We are invested in the international universal design/design-for-all/inclusive design movement but we believe that it is important to be open to complementary ideas that make sense within the simple and open framework of human centered design. Important parallel trends today include green design and design for health and healing. We see value in finding the common ground between movements and in working collaboratively.

We embrace our ongoing relationship with our traditional allies in disability and aging. We try to be attentive to the spectrum of ability that poses less obvious demands upon design, especially chronic illness and the cognitive spectrum of disability. We believe that the link between chronic illness and/or disability and poverty must catalyze action that includes a new attention to the role of design. With our stated mission of enhancing human experience, we see everyone under the umbrella of human centered design.

To borrow from our colleague Ray Lifchez, we see all design as a "social art" inclusive of urban design, landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, industrial design and information design. Design is also problem-solving and we would extend the usual design disciplines to include policy making.



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