BOOM! Kat Steele was recently a guest speaker on the fantastic podcast BOOM: Biomechanics On Our Minds hosted by Melissa Boswell and Hannah O’Day. Kat joined BOOM for their first episode of a four-part series discussing mobility, accessibility, and design.
Definitely give this episode a listen on SoundCloud, Spotify, or Apple Podcast, and follow along with the rest of the four-part series and all great BOOM content on the same podcast services.
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.
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
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.
The fancy graphic from IdeaGen for serving on the panel.
The purpose of makerspaces is to increase access to “making” among the general community. Because of this social justice orientation, it is important to consider how welcoming and accessible makerspaces are to individuals with diverse abilities, including individuals with disabilities. This design brief examines a three-step process used to make a university-based makerspace more accessible and welcoming to
individuals with disabilities including a tour, design activity, and brainstorming session. The process helped identify simple changes that were made to the makerspace, as well as increasing student, faculty, and community access. Using a similar process, other makerspaces could improve the accessibility of their spaces, procedures, and tools.
Makerspaces provide the general community with a space to brainstorm, prototype, and create. Considering this, it is especially important to create awelcoming environment for individuals with diverse abilities, including individuals with disabilities.