Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College

BIF partnered with The Sherlock Center on Disabilities and five service providing agencies in RI to reimagine the services offered to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the state.


Design Challenge

How might providers re-design and/or better integrate their services in order to form next practices and new business models that will deliver more inclusive, person-centered support to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in RI, in a way that enables them to have and build great lives?



BIF and leaders from participating agencies engaged in a collaborative design process that began with human-centered research to serve as a foundation for design and concluded with a community critique of a new, more person-centered conceptual business model. 


In order to frame new opportunity areas for transforming current service models, the BIF team sought to understand the lived experiences of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in RI. We did this through a series of interviews, shadowing, and generative activities with individuals receiving services, and developed the following Research Insights:

  1. Reframe independence as agency to create more space for personalization and a sense of personal power.
  2. Create a sense of purpose characterized by responsibility, trust, and value add.
  3. Create and maintain space for connection with oneself and others.
  4. Nurture and express both individual and shared identities.
  5. Ease barriers of navigating transitions and pathways.


We used the above insights as principles for designing a new model that puts individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at its core. Through a series of design sprints, participating agency leaders designed a new conceptual business model based in customer experience.

The conceptual model that was developed moves away from a top-down approach of agencies managing people’s lives to one in which individuals are leading and co-creating their own lives with the support of a circle of people chosen by them to help them navigate life decisions.


We presented our new conceptual model during a community critique attended by individuals receiving services, self-advocates, family members, and frontline service staff and incorporated the feedback we received into an updated conceptual design.

Impact Statement

The project produced an actionable foundation for design based in user experience that resulted in a new conceptual business model, and concluded with a set of strategic recommendations for prototyping and testing this new model. Our hope is that the model will both influence current ways of working across agencies, as well as accelerate the person-centered transformation of the broader disabilities service system.