IDDS Spirit

If you talk to anyone that has attended IDDS, they may refer to the “IDDS Spirit.”  This is a hard thing to quantify and means different things to different people. It can be summed up best by the Adikra symbol to the right and our philosophical motto — “Boa me na me mmoa wo” — a Ghanaian proverb that roughly translates to “help me and I will help you.”  

Here are some of the qualities that encapsulate the IDDS spirit: 


We believe in working together to solve tough problems.  We aim to design with community members, not for them.  We believe everyone has a valuable perspective to bring to the design table.  We teach designers how to work with diverse users and we teach users the basics of design. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with the group.” — African Proverb

Empathetic & Resilient

We value what other people think and how they feel. We are comfortable living in rough conditions that most of the world’s population live in—perhaps with irregular access to water and electricity, and where relationships are valued more than time. We believe each person has something to teach and each has something to learn.

"We cannot truely walk in another person's shoes.  The only shoes you can walk in are your own.  But we can do something better - with compassion, courage and understanding, we can walk together, side by side." -Michele L. Sullivan

Diverse & Inclusive

We not only respect diversity, but celebrate it. We are inclusive of all ideas and ways of thinking and actively seek to cultivate communities where diversity of thought, background, gender, age, religion, and nationality are brought together to tackle tough challenges.


We appreciate everything around us as a resource and potential provision to the problem at hand. We seek ways to engage and connect those people and pieces together to create a comprehensive solution.

“A necessidade é a mãe da invenção." — Portuguese proverb meaning “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Hands-On & Fun

We are adults that learn experientially. We believe in working hard on challenging problems together and having fun along the way.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” —Confucius