IdeaGen: Inclusive Design

Dr. Kat Steele and lab alumni, Dr. Heather Feldner, were on the The Accessible Technologies & Inclusive Design Panel at the IdeaGen Global Innovation Summit hosted by Micrsofot on June 7, 2019. Scott Saponas served as the moderator, asking tough questions about how to encourage and expand inclusive design. A large portion of the summit celebrated the increasing inclusion of women in tech and entrepreneurial fields, while also highlighting the remaining barriers and challenges. We hope our panel also sparked reflection on ability as an important dimension of diversity that has important implications for the design and engineering of inclusive products, environments, and experiences.

Kat Steele with microphone seated next to Jacob Wobbrock and Oscar Murillo on the panel.

The panel also included Dr. Jacob Wobbrock from UW and Oscar Murillo from Microsoft. This was another reminder of the powerhouse of accessibility researchers at UW and in the Seattle-area. An artist was capturing the summit through illustration – the whole day (it looked amazing and exhausting):

A white poster board covered with sketches of the speakers, quotes, and notes from IdeaGen. The bottom left corner includes sketches of the panel.

One of the challenging questions Scott asked was our favorite examples of successful inclusive design. I still find it disappointing that this is a challenging question. We have our classic examples – curb cuts, closed captioning, power toothbrushes, Oxo products – that have made life easier for many, but were originally conceptualized through the inclusion of individuals with diverse abilities.

There should be many more examples of success. This should be an easy question where we can quickly call to mind all of the outstanding examples in the world that celebrate the inclusion of individuals with diverse abilities in the design process and make our daily life more inclusive.

What are your favorite examples of inclusive design?

What technologies make you excited for a more inclusive world?

You can learn more, find resources, and join the community through AccessEngineering.

Kat Steele speaking on panel with microphone and a pink shirt. Quote reads: "Disability should be celebrated as a part of diversity and a multifaceted community."

The fancy graphic from IdeaGen for serving on the panel.

HuskyADAPT featured on GeekWire

Students and community members gather on campus for the HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design & Engineering Showcase.

The HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design & Engineering Showcase was last week where students presented the projects that they have been working on for the past year. These ranged from a kayak paddle attachment for individuals with upper limb differences, an accessible and functional stylus for individuals with muscular or cognitive impairments, and a universal wireless switch for adapted toys.

Read more here:

Research Experience Undergraduates Present at CSNE

This summer the Steele Lab had the pleasure of hosting three undergraduate researchersJulia Costacurta from Johns Hopkins, Joe Lawler from the University of Washington, and Preston Pan from the University of Washington.

After a competitive selection process, students are offered a 10-week internship here at the University to work directly with a research lab on campus. One of the program’s final deliverables is a presentation of their work, both in podium and poster format, to members of the local and scientific community. Congratulations to Julia, Joe, and Preston for their successful time here in the lab, and for giving polished presentations.

Three undergraduates, in their early twenties, stand arm in arm as they smile for the photo. They are dressed in business casual attire and behind them hangs a series of scientific posters on biomechanics.

Julia’s work explored the impacts of Ankle-Foot Orthoses on transient gait, a period of walking where little is currently known about device dynamics.

Julia Costacurta and her mentor for the 2018 summer, Michael Rosenberg, stand in front of her scientific poster evaluating the impact of ankle foot orthosis stiffness on transient walking.Preston worked directly with Seattle Children’s Hospital to implement algorithms for detecting bimanual hand movement before, during, and after a common therapy used to promote improved motor skills for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

Preston Pan, in a white collared shirt and blazer, stands in front of his scientific poster evaluated a proposed motion tracking algorithm for bimanual movement.

Joe’s focus this summer involved working with the University of Washington HuskyADAPT program. HuskyADAPT is a student-run program in its second year and stands for Accessible Design and Play Technology. Joe’s research question asked, how we can improve upon and further promote an inclusive and sustainable program for assistive technology?



Students lead toy hack at Expanding Your Horizons Conference

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH website) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing gateway opportunities for female middle and high school students to become more involved in STEM activities and careers. Two of our Steele Lab teams participated. Michael Rosenberg and Momona Yamagami created a remote control car you can control using muscle activity, and engaged in hands-on learning with the young women. Members of the University of Washington’s HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design & Play Technology) team, including lab members Brianna Goodwin, Brandon Nguyen, and Karley Benoff, led a workshop yesterday on accessible design and adaptation of toys for children with varying abilities.

A total of 12 toys were adapted to incorporate a new switch mechanism to facilitate play, and 26 high school women learned about toy adaptation, soldering, and circuitry. Thank you to our HuskyADAPT team and our lab members for their dedication to outreach events!

Lab members attend the Society of Women Engineers 2017 Conference

Momona Yamagami and Karley Benoff attended the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) 2017 conference in Austin, TX. Momona presented on her work with assessing a flexible electrode for long-term electromyography measurements and placed among the top 10 finalists in the graduate research poster competition for SWE. Congratulations Momona!

Momona Yamagami presents her research during a poster session


Karley said that SWE 17 was an incredible experience filled with opportunities for professional growth and networking. Here are some of her impressions:

“My favorite guest talk was titled “TECHing While Women and with Disability” where five panelists shared their experiences navigating the engineering world with a disability and/or as an advocate for those with disabilities. Dr. Richard Ladner of the University or Washington CSE department (pictured with Karley below) was one of the panelists. His research on accessible technology, especially technology for the blind, deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing, was truly inspiring. The panelists’ presentations provided a unique perspective for approaching user-centered design. I hope to use the lessons learned from the panelists, as well as from all of the SWE 17 attendees I met, to better inform the development of my orthosis project this year. By targeting accessibility and user-centered design, I aspire to develop a universal elbow-driven orthosis that will improve function for users with a wide variety of abilities.

The panelist idea is something HuskyADAPT wants to organize for its club members. Since I am an officer in the club, we are currently trying to plan such an event to better inform design teams and members alike about peoples’ experiences living with disabilities. By understanding what each individual needs, we can better design devices and technology to address what the user wants.”

Karley Benoff with one of the panelists Dr. Richard Ladner of the University or Washington CSE department