SURFACE was founded in 1999, six years in advance of changes to UK building regulations to improve access to and use of the built environment. Our vision is for a world that encourages inclusion, independence and choice; one in which places and products contribute to people's wellbeing and enhance their overall quality of life.

We seek to achieve our vision by providing strategic advice and practical guidance based on rigorous, user-led enquiry in inclusive design. We work closely with government, designers and the construction industry to shape policies and projects that achieve real results on the ground, with our input timed to effect optimum positive change. Putting the needs of people at the heart of all we do, we share expertise and innovation with those who share our passion internationally and educate practitioners to solve complex problems, both within and beyond their own environments.

SURFACE is one of ten specialist Research Centres within the School of the Built Environment. This is a vibrant research community of 70 staff and 180 PhD students, all committed to transforming quality of life and building sustainable futures. Together, we form the highest-rated built environment research institute in the UK. We have also been providing online distance learning for over 10 years, building on a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Information Technology in 2000.