Research

Global Inclusion and Social Development

Image of a man wearing a suit, sitting in a wheelchair, and using a laptop computer.

UMass Boston Establishes the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development

The UMass Boston Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) transforms into program and policy creation this philosophy: that people with disabilities have the same rights and self-determination with respect to their preferences, choices, and dreams.

Considered the national leader in the area of policy, research, and practice in the employment of persons with disabilities, the ICI works to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities to dream big, and make their dreams a fully integrated and welcomed reality. For 44 years, the institute has been committed to creating a world where all people with disabilities are wholeheartedly included in valued roles in all settings: school, workplace, volunteer group, home, and elsewhere in the community.

And now the ICI has become the foundation for the just established School for Global Inclusion and Social Development.

Since the ICI became part of UMass Boston in 2001, it has brought in more than $160,000,000 in grants and external funds. In FY 2011, the institute was awarded an impressive $17,100,000, and in FY 2012 earned its second highest annual award total of $13,300,000. Serving as a model for helping to solve societal problems with research findings gleaned from multiple disciplines, the institute enjoys a growing circle of influence among local, state, national, and international constituents.

A joint venture of UMass Boston and Children’s Hospital Boston, the ICI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Developmental Disabilities as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service.

Facets of Empowerment

  • Employing people with disabilities in community settings
  • Supporting children and young adults with special health care needs
  • Accessing general education and effecting transition from school to adult life
  • Expanding local recreation and school activities to include people with disabilities
  • Promoting technology that aids participation in school/community/work activities
  • Building organizations’ ability to serve culturally diverse people with disabilities
  • Revealing the impact of national and state policies on people with disabilities and their families

New Strategic Partnerships


UMass Boston ­— IBM Collaborative Innovation Center

On December 3, 2013, UMass Boston and IBM announced a new research initiative to advance accessible technology solutions for people with disabilities, the growing elderly population, those with low literacy and novice technology users.

As part of IBM’s Academic Initiative, IBM will provide access to technology and industry expertise to students, professors and researchers at UMass Boston’s newly formed School for Global Inclusion and Social Development.

Working together, IBM and UMass Boston will work with state and federal government agencies as well as local and global non-governmental organizations to advocate for key policies and legislation related to technology accessibility. Additionally, the collaboration will explore new ways to integrate assistive technologies into the design of mobile devices, apps or websites that enable access for people with disabilities and improve the overall user experience.

“Since the founding of the University of Massachusetts Boston nearly 50 years ago, access and inclusion have been at the heart of our mission and values,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “We are pleased to join IBM in furthering this cause around the world.”

Liberated Learning Consortium

In 2013, UMass Boston became the host institution for the Liberated Learning Consortium, a global network of universities and private companies for the development and effective use of assistive technologies in higher education. Specifically, the Consortium is a research network dedicated to advancing speech recognition technology and techniques to create and foster barrier-free learning environments to improve accessibility. The Consortium conducts research and development on two interrelated applications: using speech recognition to automatically caption spoken language and display it as readable text; and, using speech recognition to produce and disseminate accessible, multimedia transcripts.


To learn more, contact

Zong-Guo Xia, PhD, Vice Provost for Research and Strategic Initiatives & Dean of Graduate Studies, 617.287.5608