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.

Make it Universal

AccessEngineering and Dr. Steele’s recent work on creating guidelines for making makerspaces accessible was featured in the School Library Journal. It is a great resource, featuring different DIY and makerspace movements that support individuals with disabilities around the US. In particular, check out some of theAccessEngineering and DO-IT summer students explore the CoMotion makerspace. great work on how toys can be easily hacked for individuals with disabilities from John Schimmel and Holly Cohen, cofounders of DIYAbility, .

You can read the full article here:

Make It Universal

Capacity Building Institute

CBI participants.The proceedings from AccessEngineering’s first Capacity Building Institute have been published on-line.

This institute focused on bringing together faculty, staff, and students from engineering departments around the country to discuss how to support individuals with disabilities in pursuing careers in engineering.

There were many wonderful presentations and discussions. In particular check out:

These discussions helped to inform several new resources from AccessEngineering including:

The Capacity Building Institute was hosted at the University of Washington-Seattle April 7-9, 2015. Please let us know if you are interested in participating next year!

KUOW Feature: Accessible Makerspaces

Brainstorm session for creating accessible makerspaces.We were privileged to have Jamala Henderson from KUOW Public Radio join in during our brainstorms and activities for creating accessible makerspaces.

She has put together a wonderful news story about our project and included some great quotes from the students about why we should create accessible makerspaces:

“The cool thing about engineering spaces is a lot of people use engineering spaces to help solve other problems for people with disabilities, and I think it would be cool if people with disabilities were more involved with solving their own problems.” – Kayla Wheeler

Listen to the full story here: KUOW 94.9 FM

KING 5 News: Makerspaces

Hannah giving an interview for KING 5 News.Check out KING 5 News at around 5:30pm this evening. They will be featuring a short piece on AccessEngineering‘s guidelines for creating accessible makerspaces.

You can view the final video and story here.

Hannah, one of the UW DO-IT Scholars who helped to create the guidelines, did a great job in the hot seat! She helped to share her experiences as an individual with visual impairments for making a welcoming and accessible space. She contributed key observations such as remembering how important mental maps are for individuals with visual impairments. Having flexible workspaces (furniture on wheels, etc) is great in makerspaces, but having key equipment organized and in fixed locations helps her build a mental map of the space. Hannah will be a freshman at UW in the fall and is considering majoring in physics or engineering. I’m sure she will have many creative things to build in the makerspace as a new student.
Go Hannah!