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Valerie Fletcher (2005)


Valerie Fletcher has been Executive Director since 1998 of the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD). Fletcher writes, lectures and works internationally. She currently oversees projects ranging from the development of a new national website on accessibility and inclusive design in cultural facilities for the National Endowment for the Arts to a wide range of consultation and design services to public, and private entities in the US and globally.

Full Biography

Valerie Fletcher
Executive Director, Institute for Human Centered Design (at time of award, called Adaptive Environments)
Women in Design Award of Excellence, 2005 winner

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The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) is an international education and design non-profit organization 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. The power of design in response to diversity has become an increasingly global priority beginning at the close of the 20th century.

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The followed facts set the stage for a new urgency for the role of design in social equity.

  • Dramatic change in lifespan and survival from illness, injury and congenital disorders was a dominant global story by the close of the 20th century. We live longer and survive more but we need to design a world that makes that work.
  • World Health Organization redefined disability in 2001 as a “contextual variable.” A person with a functional limitation is more or less disabled based on the interaction with the environment. Designers make the human context.
  • UN introduced the Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006 to establish clear expectations of human rights for over a billion people. 180 UN member states have ratified it.
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Inclusive or universal design emerged in the 1990s as a holistic framework for design of environments that anticipate diversity of ability, age and culture and includes everyone without special or separate design.

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IHCD relishes its role as convener, educator, and hub of consulting, design services and research for this global campaign for design that includes everyone.