A second NSF Convergence Accelerator focused on increasing access and inclusion. The LIBERATE workshop is focused on Living Better through Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology.
As an NSF Convergence Accelerator, participants will seek to identify pathways that could be pursued by multidisciplinary teams to get solutions at least to a prototype stage in 3-5 years. The long-term goal from this workshop is to kickstart the next wave of technologies that will empower people with disabilities.
Dr. Steele will be participating and presenting some kernels of ideas for inclusion, especially highlighting recent work from CREATE.
The goals for this workshop are to identify pathways for technology to solve or mitigate accessibility and inclusion challenges in current and emerging workplaces. As an NSF Convergence Accelerator, participants will seek to identify pathways that could be pursued by multidisciplinary teams to get solutions at least to a prototype stage in 3-5 years. The long-term goals from this workshop are to set in motion paradigm shifts that brings the percentage of individuals with disabilities participating in the workforce closer to the general population.
Dr. Steele will be presenting some ideas on inclusion in the workplace – from work environments to transportation to workforce development.
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.
Thanks to AccessEngineering and other DO-IT programs, I don’t feel like I’m pursuing my education alone, or that I have to figure out how to overcome obstacles that others don’t have to by myself.
AccessEngineering, an interdisciplinary universal design program co-led by Dr. Kat Steele at the University of Washington, was featured on the College of Engineering’s news webpage.
Since it’s launch in 2014, AccessEngineering has sought to champion the development of a diverse, well-prepared workforce of engineering graduates and university faculty. One of the key ways that this program seeks to promote this agenda is by increasing general participation of individuals with disabilities in engineering. AccessEngineering also aims to promote their core goals by improving engineering education. The primary means by which this group seeks to enrich the curriculum is by integrating disability-related and universal design content into engineering courses.
Dr. Kat Steele coordinates AccessEngineering at the UW with Dr. Maya Cakmak, an assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, and Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, director of UW Access Technology and the DO-IT Center.
To read about AccessEngineering program as posted on College of Engineering website, follow this LINK, or visit the program’s website.