Region 1 - New England ADA Center

The New England ADA Center serves Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Since 1996, the Institute for Human Centered Design has operated the New England ADA Center. The Center meets the increasingly complex challenges of providing information, guidance and training to individuals, government and businesses, including products designed for ease of use and maximum impact. We have over 20 years of expertise and capacity providing ADA network services and an awareness of the persistent gaps in understanding and compliance, including the need for reframing the big vision of the ADA with innovative approaches.

Media and Creative Storytelling Campaign Reflecting Today’s Reality of Disability

The New England ADA Center, in partnership with Digital Eyes Film Productions, is developing a multimedia campaign to address the culturally embedded notions and ever-changing phenomenon of disability. The goal of the campaign is to disrupt the pervasive notion of disability as a cultural identity, and replace it with an expansive perception that the ADA protects most Americans for at least part of our lives, if we live long enough.

Our goal is to evolve public perception and understanding by communicating today’s new demographic realities. The campaign will depict a dramatic change in the nature and rates of disabilities, along with the increased capacity that equal opportunity affords under the ADA. We will accomplish this by addressing two demographic patterns that distinguish New England today:

  1. The highest percentage in the nation of people over the age of 65. Most of these people, especially those with acquired conditions, would not self-describe as a person with a disability. However, this does not alter the reality of rights and responsibilities owed to them under the ADA.Chart showing two decades of New England's shifting age profile, with those 65 and over increasing.
  2. Countless individuals newly in recovery due to opioid addiction along with behavioral health challenges, unaware of their civil rights under the ADA. Map of U.S. showing states where population is a heavy consumer of marijuana, cocaine, non-medical opioids and alcohol..

The campaign will consist of Public Service Announcements and other forms of media built around narratives intended to move the viewer into taking action to learn more about their rights and responsibilities, as well as the positive impact that implementation of the ADA has on collective, community life. 

Demographic and Survey Research Targeting New England Municipalities

Twenty-six years after the passage of the ADA, there has been important progress. However, the vision of maximum community participation is far from met. Despite comprehensive ADA network services across New England, knowledge and implementation gaps remain. Today, there is no aspect of the ADA more urgent to address than the equal opportunity for community living. Toward this end, we intend to learn about the reasons for limited compliance of the ADA among cities and towns, and act on those insights.

Research Questions

(1) What are the emerging and projected profiles of people with rights under the ADA?

(2) What are the factors that impede municipalities from implementing their responsibilities under ADA?

(3) Is there an intervention or innovative approach that can more effectively support implementation of the ADA at the municipal level?

Targeted Outcomes

  • Improve understanding of the goals of the ADA.
  • Identify innovative approaches and test their impact in order to increase full implementation of the ADA.
  • Publish results of research findings in journals as well as general media.

This research opportunity is a catalyst toward developing substantive data that can awaken fresh attention to the inclusionary vision of the ADA, both for those with rights and for those with responsibilities.