IHCD believes that there is an urgent need to gather data about what works and what fails for people at the edges of the spectrum of ability, age, and culture. IHCD invests in contextual inquiry research with real people interacting with real physical or digital environments.  We have recruited a base of over 300 people with physical, sensory, or brain-based conditions who vary in age from late teens to late 80s and culturally diverse. And we have extensive experience recruiting user/experts in other parts of the nation and the world.  As a measure of our respect for the expertise of their lived experience, each user/expert is paid for their time. 

A primary user/expert personally lives with one or more functional limitations.

A secondary user/expert is a friend, spouse, family member, service provider, therapist, teacher, or anyone who has extensive experience sharing life with primary user/experts and paying close attention to the interface with their environments.

At MBTA train station, User/Expert being supported by IHCD intern to regain balance after she tripped off the path

“IHCD’s User Expert Lab has helped to enrich our designs—both physical and digital.  Throughout recent redesigns of several subway stations as well as the complete rebuild of, the feedback we received for the lab and its users helped to ensure we were designing with the diversity of our customers’ needs in mind.  As a result we have found ourselves focused more on user experience than just mere compliance.”
- Laura Brelsford, Assistant GM for Accessibility, MBTA

New England ADA Center Research 

IHCD’s New England ADA Center releases startling findings about the true nature of disability by region, state, and city. Read all the findings here. 

Crowd at ADA 25 celebration