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.

Driven by a deep sense of commitment to better serve individuals with disabilities, they seek to transform the current provider-driven service model into one that puts personal agency and self-determination at its core.

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 the disability community in RI, in a way that enables its members to have and build great lives?



BIF and the agencies have engaged in an innovation project that has taken them through  a series of design challenges. In the first Design Challenge participants were asked to shift their lens by looking at the experience of the disability community they serve. BIF conducted in-person interviews, tours, and observations and synthesized the findings into a set of actionable insights.


  • Activate Sense of Self
    • We need to strengthen self-awareness and support individuals on their path towards living their best lives. This includes creating the conditions and opportunities for expression of personal values and identity and the confidence to achieve goals.
  • Catalyze Personal Connections & Relationships
    • We need to enable individuals to make and sustain personal relationships by opening up relevant and new opportunities to meet people to forge meaningful relationships.
  • Build a Sense of Purpose
    • We need to move from viewing dependency as a dichotomy to focusing on the spectrum of agency that can be harnessed in order to create the conditions for individuals to have meaningful, fulfilling roles that allow them to build purpose in their lives.

Through these insights the project participants then created a set of design principles that provide the link between what customers need and what the new solution needs to provide.

Design Principles:

  1. Maximize personal agency to amplify user voice and power
  2. Acknowledge, trust, and respect different abilities and value a diversity of contributions
  3. Foster relationships and build community while balancing individual needs

Next, the participants create conceptual designs of next practices and new business models for the three opportunity spaces identified from the research findings. The designs must incorporate the design principles as well.

Finally, participants will develop plans to prototype and test the newly designed models, including a community critique to solicit feedback which can be used to iterate upon their prototypes.

Impact Statement

The project will ultimately create new business models that provide services and supports that will increase agency and enable self-actualization in the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Rhode Island.