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.

Heather Feldner receives Harlan Hahn Award

Harlan Hahn was a well known disability rights activist and scholar, after he passed away the University of Washington received an endowment fund to support the integration of disability studies into research and education.

Heather Feldner was awarded $4000 to pursue the following project, as summarized below:

The Harlan Hahn Endowment Fund will support the creation and delivery of a multidisciplinary technology design course curriculum that infuses disability studies content and encourages student activism within the science and engineering communities of UW and the disability communities of Seattle. Students will gain exposure to seminal disability studies scholarship about the social and complex embodiment models of disability, the history of disability discrimination and the Disability Rights Movement, and explore how disability studies can inform issues of accessibility and inclusive design that have been historically conceptualized within a medical model of disability. Each student will participate in a technology co-design project with a disabled community member serving as a consultant and project lead. Funding will also support the assessment of student attitudes and knowledge of disability studies principles prior to and after completing the course, as well as support dissemination of the course model and outcomes at a national engineering conference in 2018.heather