OIPO Disability Abstracts: Design

This literature review contains relevant material across several disciplines taking into account the interrelationship of design and disability. Included are books, articles, and other resources on topics such as:

  • Disability interaction (DIX)
  • Geography, inclusive and accessible architecture, and the built environment
  • Inclusive design and inclusive design education
  • Makerspaces
  • Participatory and inclusive research, co-production, co-design, co-creation, and methodologies
  • Social media, technology and web accessibility
  • Universal design
  • User involvement and user experience

Updated 1/8/2024

Allen, M. (2021, February 10). Designing for Disability Justice: On the need to take a variety of human bodies into account. Harvard University Graduate School of Design News Cambridge, MA. 

“Disability ought to be an exciting subject for architects: it’s about lived experience, problem solving, and designing a better built environment. While the topic engages with critical theory and aspirations for collective life, it’s often seen as a field that requires checking boxes and fulfilling requirements, or worse, a touchy subject strewn with outdated terms and outmoded habits of thought. The typical routines of design don’t always take the variety of human bodies into account. But I recently had the chance to talk to four practitioners who are changing minds and moving the field forward: Aimi Hamraie is associate professor of Medicine, Health, and Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University; Sara Hendren (MDes ’13) is a professor at Olin College and the author of What Can a Body Do?; Sierra Bainbridge is senior principal and managing director at MASS Design Group; and Jeffrey Mansfield (March ’14) is a design director at MASS.”

Aniyamuzaala, J.R. (2023). Inclusion of persons with disabilities by design: From product centered to justice and person centered inclusive co-design. In M. H. Rioux, J. Viera, A. Buettgen, & E. Zubrow (Eds.), Handbook of disability: Critical thought and social change in a globalizing world (pp. 1-16). Singapore: Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-1278-7_51-1.

Persons with disabilities and their needs were excluded by design according to the article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The review of the literature and secondary data revealed the three inclusive design school of thoughts and practices, and these included the following: The Canadian, the United Kingdom (UK), and the Technology Industry’s Inclusive Design school of thoughts and practices. The qualitative critical analysis of the three inclusive design school of thoughts resulted into the Justice and Person Centered Inclusive Co-Design (JPCICD) as the fourth inclusive design school of thought and practice. The JPCICD expands on the Canadian inclusive design school of thought and practice to comprehensively cover justice, equity, and human diversity dimensions of design. The JPCICD shifted the focus of inclusive design from product and market system to person’s social, political, economic, cultural, and technological justice or total justice. It also considers the equity principle in its definition. The JPCICD was developed based on the foundation of the human rights and justice principles such as equity and equality human diversity, freedom of choice, and others. JPCICD focuses on equitable distribution of resources and power to the diverse excluded persons with disabilities by design.

Anonymous 1, Anonymous 2, Anonymous 3, Herd, N., Anonymous 4, & Kalifer, D. (with support from Erin Kuri and Ann Fudge Schormans) (2022) Justice vs. injustice: Poetic dialogue about the meaning of Disability Justice among people labelled/with intellectual disability. In P. D. C. Bones, J. Smartt Guillion, & D. Barber (Eds.), Redefining Disability [Personal/Public Scholarship Series Vol. 12] (pp. 84–89). Boston: Brill. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004512702_013

“The DiStory project is a multi-year, multi-generational inclusive project in which co-researchers labelled/with an intellectual disability have been collaborating with non-labelled academic and community-based co-researchers to design, develop, and conduct a project whose primary purpose is the co-production of knowledge and development of teaching materials for postsecondary students about the lives of people labelled/with intellectual disabilities. (We use the language labelled/with in recognition of the heterogeneity of people understood to have intellectual disability and of the hurtful impacts being labelled can have on people’s lives.)

Co-researchers labelled/with intellectual disabilities include survivors of Ontario’s large-scale institutions, as well as younger generations of people labelled/with intellectual disabilities. This was by design. It is a means of preserving and sharing survivors’ history of institutional ‘care’ with younger generations of people labeled/with intellectual disabilities who, while never incarcerated in these institutions, nonetheless experience institutionalized care and ongoing experiences of discrimination and violence. It was intended as well to challenge perceptions that the closure of institutions has meant that life is now ‘better’ for people labelled/with intellectual disabilities. Instead, it makes plain that while large-scale institutions may, at this moment, be closed in Ontario, institutions and such forms of care continue, and living ‘in the community’ is no guarantee of a ‘good life’ of one’s choosing.

In what follows, the co-researchers labelled/with intellectual disabilities re-define disability using a framework of disability justice. They do so by using a form of poetic dialogue to contrast meanings of disability (in particular, ‘intellectual disability’) as articulated in their understandings of ‘disability justice’ and its converse—’disability injustice’” (pp. 84-85).

Bayor, A. A., Brereton, M., Sitbon, L., Ploderer, B., Bircanin, F., Favre. B., & Koplick, S. (2021, June). Toward a competency-based approach to co-designing technologies with people with intellectual disability. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, 14(2), 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3450355

Ability-based design is a useful framework that centralizes the abilities (all that users can do) of people with disabilities in approaching the design of assistive technologies. However, although this framework aspires to support designing with people with all kinds of disabilities, it is mainly effective in supporting those whose abilities can be clearly defined and measured, in particular, physical and sensory attributes of ability. As a result, the ability-based design framework only provides limited guidance to design with users with intellectual disability, whose cognitive, physical, sensory, and practical abilities vary along a spectrum. In this article, we reflect on a long-term co-design study where we leveraged what we termed “competencies,” i.e., the representative practical skills people develop from their participation in life activities, in particular, mainstream technologies, such as social media and the Internet. Our reflection is based on our experience in designing SkillsTube, a web application we co-designed with young adults with intellectual disability to support them to learn life skills through videos. The app’s design, which explored and leveraged their social media participation competencies, supported the fundamental participation of all participants and their peers. Their familiarity with the app’s social media-inspired design features fostered confidence in their participation, usability, and engagement. Drawing on the findings and design process of the app, we discuss a Competency-based approach to designing with people with disabilities that extends upon ability-based design, by grounding it in user competencies.

Bennett, C. L., Peil, B., & Rosner, D. K. (2019, June). Biographical prototypes: Reimagining recognition and disability in design. In
DIS ’19: Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference (pp. 35–47). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3322276.3322376.

This paper aims to elevate stories of design by people with disabilities. In particular, we draw from counter-storytelling practices to build a corpus of stories that prioritize disabled people as contributors to professional design practice. Across a series of workshops with disabled activists, designers, and developers, we developed the concept of biographical prototypes: under-recognized first-person accounts of design materialized through prototyping practices. We describe how the creation of such prototypes helps position disabled people as central contributors to the design profession. The artifacts engendered an expanded sense of coalition among workshop participants while prompting reflection on tensions between recognition and obligation. We end by reflecting on how the prototypes-and the practices that produced them-complement a growing number of design activities around disability that reveal complexities around structural forms of discrimination and the generative role that personal accounts may play in their revision.

Blanchard, E. (2022). Cripping assistive tech design: How the current disability framework limits our ability to create emancipatory technology. In T. Borangiu, D. Trentesaux, P. Leitão, O. Cardin, & L. Joblot (Eds.), Service Oriented, Holonic and Multi-agent Manufacturing Systems for Industry of the Future SOHOMA 2021 [Studies in Computational Intelligence, vol 1034] (pp. 377-388). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99108-1_27

Recent advances in assistive technologies have blurred the lines between compensating for impairments — for disabled users — and augmenting capabilities — such as with cobotic systems. This article examines how assistive technologies generally seek to compensate for a single deficiency, as opposed to being more generalist tools meant to improve the lives and autonomy of (not necessarily) disabled users. It starts with a brief presentation of the different frameworks used to model disability in the social sciences, and how some of these frameworks could be used to boost creativity in the design of assistive devices. It then showcases a series of examples where innovative design ideas allowed for devices that go beyond trying to fix disability and instead liberate their users. The article concludes with a reflection on the ethical interactions between transhumanism and disability, as well as the possibilities created by new distributed design/construction networks affiliated with open-source/open-design models. This reflection can serve as a basis for a discussion about the necessary evolution of industrial practices in the design of assistive technologies, no matter whether they are designed to compensate impairments or augment capabilities.

Cerdan Chiscano, M. (2021). Giving a voice to students with disabilities to design library experiences: An ethnographic study. In G. Wolbring (Ed.), Ability Expectation and Ableism Studies (Short Ability Studies) [Topical Collection]. Societies, 11(2), 61. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/soc11020061

Although librarians generally display an inclusive management style, barriers to students with disabilities remain widespread. Against this backdrop, a collaborative research project called Inclusive Library was launched in 2019 in Catalonia, Spain. This study empirically tests how involving students with disabilities in the experience design process can lead to new improvements in users’ library experience. A mix of qualitative techniques, namely focus groups, ethnographic techniques and post-experience surveys, were used to gain insights from the 20 libraries and 20 students with disabilities collaborating in the project. Based on the participants’ voices and follow-up experiences, the study makes several suggestions on how libraries can improve their accessibility. Results indicate that ensuring proper resource allocation for accessibility improves students with disabilities’ library experience. Recommendations for library managers are also provided.

Chang, Y., Sitbon, L., & Simpson, L. (2021, October). Towards a secured and safe online social media design framework for people with intellectual disability. In ASSETS ’21: The 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility Article No.: 91, 1–4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3441852.3476540

This paper aims to create a tangible design framework for practitioners to follow when designing an online social media platform for individuals with intellectual disability. Currently, legislation and best practice consider cyber security and safety for the general public, giving particular attention to the protection of children. However, despite the support in health care, financial assistance, and education, individuals with intellectual disability are rarely considered when it comes to cybersafety. To achieve inclusivity, an integrative review was conducted to make connections between disciplines of education and information technology and law. The process was split into three phases: (i) understanding the challenges those with intellectual disability face, both when using a social media interface and when evaluating safety risks; (ii) identifying gaps and understanding the implications for persons with intellectual disability from legislative and design and design principles; and (iii) visualisation of data flow to model interactions. In conclusion, an inclusive framework is proposed for practitioners when designing online social media platforms for people with intellectual disability.

Coleman, D., & Trudelle, M. (2019). How to make design thinking more disability inclusive. Stanford Social Innovation Review. DOI: https://doi.org/10.48558/BSDF-A033

A three-tiered framework for making human-centered design more inclusive of people with disabilities can help organizations improve their own programs.

Cook, L., Rothstein, P., Emeh, L., Frumiento, P., Kennedy, D., McNicholas, D., Orjiekwe, I., Overton, M., Snead, M., Steward, R., Sutton. J. M., Bradshaw, M., Jeffreys, E., Charteris, S., Ewans, S., Williams, M., Grierson, M., & Chapko, D. (2021, September). In the physical to digital transition with friends—A story of performing inclusive research together no matter what life throws at you. In I. Strnadová, J. Loblinzk, M. L. Wehmeyer (Eds.), Transitions in the Lives of People with Intellectual Disability [Special Issue]. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 49(3), 271-281. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bld.12408

Background: As part of “The Hub” project at Wellcome Collection, a team of eight co-researchers with learning disabilities along academics created an online survey to challenge public understanding of learning disabilities. Using creative and arts-based methods, co-researchers remotely co-analysed the survey results amid COVID-19 lockdown challenges. Here, we explore our unexpected “transition” journey from the physical “Hub” to the digital space.

Methods: We organised 20 sessions at The Hub and used audio/video/photo recordings to capture key moments. With the lockdown, we ensured that every co-researcher had access to and support for digital technologies. Throughout 2020, we organised 28 Zoom meetings involving all co-researchers. In June, Lilly (a multi-media journalist and she lives by the motto striving for equal opportunities for people with disabilities and fairness throughout) and Sue (an independent Leadership Coach and Mentor) conducted Zoom interviews with the co-research team to reflect on our transition journey. In this creative video-form submission accompanied by an accessible report, Lilly puts together a story of how we transitioned and felt throughout this process.

Findings: We identify that trust and the social bonds established at The Hub are the key components of our transition to the digital environment. There is the tension between longing for in-person contact and trying to make the most out of the situation to maintain these relationships. At the heart of this is the motivation to “change the world” and strive for social justice. Having time and opportunity to improve, and co-researchers’ steady growth in confidence are equally important.

Conclusions: The determination for maintaining friendships among co-researchers and the motivation to “change the world” overcome COVID-19-related challenges in continuing co-research.

Accessible summary:

  • We are members of an arts organisation who support the creative talents of people with learning disabilities and autistic people.
  • We have been working on a research project at “The Hub” at Wellcome Collection in a team consisting of academic and nonacademic professionals with diverse abilities.
  • Because of coronavirus, we all had to stay home to stay safe. To carry on with our research project, we participated in 28 creative research meetings on Zoom.
  • In this paper and accompanying video, we will tell you how we did it. We will also tell you how we felt about moving away from “The Hub” and trying to do research remotely from home.
  • We hope our project has shown that people with learning disabilities can transition well to working online when there is trust and mutual respect.

Costanza-Chock, S. (2020, March). Design justice: Community-led practices to build the worlds we need. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

What is the relationship between design, power, and social justice? “Design justice” is an approach to design that is led by marginalized communities and that aims explicitly to challenge, rather than reproduce, structural inequalities. It has emerged from a growing community of designers in various fields who work closely with social movements and community-based organizations around the world.

This book explores the theory and practice of design justice, demonstrates how universalist design principles and practices erase certain groups of people —specifically, those who are intersectionally disadvantaged or multiply-burdened under the matrix of domination (white supremacist heteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, and settler colonialism) — and invites readers to “build a better world, a world where many worlds fit; linked worlds of collective liberation and ecological sustainability.” Along the way, the book documents a multitude of real-world community-led design practices, each grounded in a particular social movement. Design Justice goes beyond recent calls for design for good, user-centered design, and employment diversity in the technology and design professions; it connects design to larger struggles for collective liberation and ecological survival.

The full text of Design Justice is Open Access.

Cottrell, C. (2020). Gentle House: Co-designing with an autistic perception. Co-constructing Body-Environments [Special Issue]. Idea Journal, 17(2), 105-20.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.37113/ij.v17i02.371.

This article discusses the early phases of Gentle House, a spatial design research project that works with concepts of autistic perception and a collaborative design process to renovate the home of a family of four. The family includes a ten-year-old autistic child who is currently being educated via correspondence schooling. In working alongside the family and understanding the uniqueness and complexity of their needs, the goal is to create spaces that are stimulating and enjoyable for them to live in.
The autistic child’s experience of the physical world is pathologised as sensory processing disorder. This is a condition where there are differences in the integration of sense modalities that can lead to moments of being overwhelmed by some stimulus and a more highly tuned receptivity to other stimuli, such as texture and smell. This design research rejects a pathological framework for characterising these experiences and uses co-design approaches with the aim of learning from his engagement with the world. In particular, his highly tuned awareness of phenomena that ‘neurotypical’ perception tends to tune out or overlook. The larger implication of this project and approach is a rethinking of our living and working environments towards sensorially richer and more inclusive ends.
The early phases of the project have involved a series of spatial, material, and sensory design prototypes, which are discussed in terms of their co-creation and the perceptual richness of space-time experiences. The design knowledge gleaned from these prototypes is briefly contextualised within existing frameworks for inclusive design, before outlining future trajectories for the research.

Davis, J. (2022). Accessibility in/as caring. In The caring city: Ethics of urban design (pp. 63-87). Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.51952/9781529201222.ch004.

I began to allude to the importance of accessibility in facilitating new patterns of care in the previous chapter, and the goal of this chapter is to consider in depth how urban design can mobilize notions of access to influence care needs, relations and practices. However, I begin the discussion with a quandary since two of the major goals of accessibility as constructed in the context of urban design theory have an uneasy relationship with the ideas of care and from the ethics of care which I have presented thus far. The first of these goals is personal autonomy. The accessibility of built form is often seen to shape the autonomy that people such as those with a mobility or sensory impairment have in looking after themselves and choosing how and where to live. The second goal is universality. The goal of accessible urban design, such as within the context of ‘universal design’ discourses, is seen to be the creation of city forms and places that are navigable by all, satisfying principles of inclusivity and equity (see, for example, Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012).

DePoy, E., & Gilson, S. (2010). Disability design and branding: Rethinking disability within the 21st Century. Disability Studies Quarterly, 30(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v30i2.1247

“In this paper, we present our recent thinking about disability as disjuncture and the significant role that design and branding play in creating this ill-fit. However, simultaneously, design and branding provide the contemporary opportunity and relevant strategies for rethinking disability and social change, and healing disjuncture. As always, this thinking is a work in progress with invitation for criticism and dialogue. We begin by setting the chronological and intellectual context that informs our ideas. We then clarify Disjuncture Theory and link design and branding to revisioning a globe in which disjuncture is healed by contemporary relevant theorizing and praxis.”

Dokumaci, A. (2018). Disability as method: Interventions in the habitus of ableism through media-creation. In H.Thompson & V. Warne (Eds.), Blindness Arts [Special Issue]. Disability Studies Quarterly, 38(3). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v38i3.6491

In this article, I share and reflect on a research-creation video that introduces what I call ‘disability as method’ to critical disability and media studies. The video draws on a year-long visual ethnography, during which I collaborated with a blind and a physically disabled participant to explore the specificities of their mobility experiences in the city of Montreal. In making this video, I use the affordances of filming and editing in creative ways both to explore what access could mean to differently disabled people in the space of the city and to reimagine new possibilities of media-making informed by blindness gain. To this end, I introduce a new audio description (AD) technique by using stop-time as crip-time, and deploying AD not only as an accessibility feature but also as a blind intervention in the creative process of filmmaking itself.

Also available are Supplementary Video Resources for this article.

Doucet, M., Pratt, H., Dzhenganin, M., & Read, J. (2022, August). Nothing About Us Without Us: Using Participatory Action Research (PAR) and arts-based methods as empowerment and social justice tools in doing research with youth ‘aging out’ of care. In D. Collin-Vézina & M. Sebrena Jackson (Eds.), Relations at the Hearth of Foster Children, Youth and Families Wellness [Special Issue]. Child Abuse & Neglect, 130(3), 105358. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2021.105358

Child welfare practices and policies are often disconnected from youth in care’s perspectives and lived realities. Youth ‘aging out’ of care should be empowered to define their own needs, goals and success based on the unique context they are transitioning from. In research, this can be supported by engaging them as co-researchers through emancipatory approaches.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) requires collaboration with those who are affected by the issue being studied in all aspects of the research, with the aim to build advocacy capacity and affect transformative social change. Photovoice employs photography and group dialogue – the fusion of images and words – as an empowerment tool, through which individuals can work together to represent their own lived experiences rather than have their stories told and interpreted by others. This is a particularly powerful approach in engaging youth with care experience, as they are often systemically disenfranchised, isolated and in need of connections to the community.

This article presents the Relationships Matter for Youth ‘Aging Out’ of Care project, a Participatory Action Research (PAR) photovoice research project with young people with lived experience, as a case study. The project aimed to take a closer look at the relationships that matter to youth from care and how they can be nurtured over time. Narratives about the experience of participating in the project are also featured, from the perspectives of three of the youth co-researchers. Some of the benefits, challenges and lessons learned are also explored, framed within the Relationships Matter project methodology and process. Recommendations for future social work research are also presented.

Fletcher, V., Bonome-Sims, G., Knecht, B., Ostroff, E., Otitigbe, J., Parente, M., & Safdie, J. (2015, January). The challenge of inclusive design in the US context. Applied Ergonomics, 46(B), 267-273. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2013.03.006.

The paper considers the evolution of thinking and practice of inclusive design in the United States since 1993, the year of the first special edition of Applied Ergonomics on inclusive design. It frames the examination initially in terms of the US social mores that substantially influence behavior and attitudes from a defining individualism to legal mandates for accessibility to the nation’s ingrained obsession with youth and delusional attitudes about aging. The authors explore the disparate patterns across the design disciplines and identify promising linkages and patterns that may be harbingers of a more expansive embrace of inclusive design in the years ahead.

Foley, K., Attrill, S., & Brebner, C. (2021). Co-designing a methodology for workforce development during the personalisation of allied health service funding for people with disability in Australia. BMC Health Services Research, 21, 680. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-06711-x

Background: Internationally, health and social services are undergoing creative and extensive redesign to meet population demands with rationed budgets. This has critical implications for the health workforces that serve such populations. Within the workforce literature, few approaches are described that enable workforce development for health professions in the service contexts that emerge from large scale service redesign in times of industry shift. We contribute an innovative and robust methodology for workforce development that was co-designed by stakeholders in allied health during the personalisation of disability funding in Australia (the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme).

Methods: In the context of a broad action research project, we used program logic modelling to identify and enact opportunities for sustainable allied health education and workforce integration amidst the changed service provision context. We engaged with 49 industry stakeholders across 92 research engagements that included interviews (n = 43), a workshop explicitly for model development (n = 8) and a Project Advisory Group (n = 15). Data from these activities were inductively coded, analysed, and triangulated against each other. During the program logic modelling workshop, we worked with involved stakeholders to develop a conceptual model which could be used to guide trial and evaluation of allied health education which was fit-for-purpose to emerging workforce requirements.

Results: Stakeholder interviews showed that drivers of workforce design during industry shift were that (1) service provision was happening in turbulent times; (2) new concerns around skills and professional engagement were unfolding for AHP in the NDIS; and (3) impacts to AHP education were being experienced. The conceptual model we co-designed directly accounted for these contextual features by highlighting five underpinning principles that should inform methodologies for workforce development and AHP education in the transforming landscape: being (1) pedagogically sound; (2) person- or family-centred; (3) NDIS compliant; (4) informed by evidence and (5) having quality for all. We use a case study to illustrate how the co-designed conceptual model stimulated agility and flexibility in workforce and service redesign.

Conclusions: Proactive and situated education of the emerging workforce during policy shift is essential to realise future health workforces that can appropriately and effectively service populations under a variety of changing service and funding structures – as well as their transitions. We argue that collaborative program logic modelling in partnership with key stakeholders including existing workforce can be useful for broad purposes of workforce (re)design in diverse contexts.

Forlano, L. (2021). Dispatches on humanity from a disabled cyborg. In S. Maffei (Ed.), Galaxy of Design Research [Feature Issue]. Diid disegno industriale industrial design No. 75, 7. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.30682/diid7521g

This essay engages with the more than human from the perspective of the disabled cyborg in order to explore themes around human-machine relations and pluriversal design in the context of hundreds of years of dehumanization. Drawing on my own experiences with “smart” medical devices I argue for the value of autoethnographic accounts and praxis as a mode of expanding who can participate in the production of knowledge as well as in the field of design. In the quest for new design practices around the more than human, I ask who is missing from these conversations and why?

Fraser-Barbour, E., Robinson, S., Gendera, S., Burton-Clark, I., Fisher, K. R., Alexander, J. & Howe, K. (2023). Shifting power to people with disability in co-designed research. Disability & Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2023.2279932.

This paper explores tensions navigated by researchers and project leaders when involving people with disability as experts in co-design and in the core team. Part of an evaluation aiming to improve paid employment of people with intellectual disability is used to consider this work. Assemblage analysis of the data assisted in identifying a range of material and social conditions, flows, and factors that de- and re-territorialise power in the co-design process. The expertise of people with disability informed research design. Structural conditions of funding and institutional support were foundational to the co-design. These included accessible practices, core roles for people with disability and resolving ableist conditions. Power shifts were easily undermined by institutionalised norms that disrespected the co-design contributions. When people in decision-making positions and allies recognised the value of codesigning research, it was key to centring valuable knowledge in articulating key issues, methodology, and analysis.

Froehlich, J. E., Brock, A. M., Caspi, A., Guerreiro, J., Hara, K., Kirkham, R., Schöning, J., & Tannert, B. (2019, March-April). Grand challenges in accessible maps. Interactions, 26(2), 78–81. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3301657

In this forum we celebrate research that helps to successfully bring the benefits of computing technologies to children, older adults, people with disabilities, and other populations that are often ignored in the design of mass-marketed products.

Fudge Schormans, A., Wilton, R., & Marquis, N. (2019, September). Building collaboration in the co-production of knowledge with people with intellectual disabilities about their everyday use of city space. In L. Holt, J. Jeffries, E. Hall & A. Power (Eds.), Geographies of Co-production: Learning from Inclusive Research Approaches at the Margins [Special Issue]. Area, 51(3), 415-422. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12492

We engage with scholarship in participatory geographies and critical disability studies to consider the difficulties and prospects of co-producing knowledge with people with intellectual disabilities in a project examining their uses of urban public space. The research employed an inclusive, collaborative design and had an explicit focus on social change, articulated in the research process (e.g., the development of research and self-advocacy skills) and outcomes (e.g., lobbying to improve material conditions, challenging ableist assumptions about “intellectual disability”). Our analysis highlights three tensions: the time/spaces constraints faced in “slow” participatory work, the nature and duration of relationships among collaborators and the shifting relations of power and influence within the project. We reflect critically on how these tensions were negotiated and what lessons might be learned for participatory practice.

Galán, I. G. (2022, June). Unlearning ableism: Design knowledge, contested models, and the experience of disability in 1970s Berkeley. Journal of Design History, epac018. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epac018

This article explores the design pedagogies developed through the alliance between disability activists at the Center for Independent Living (CIL) and a number of faculty led by Raymond Lifchez at U.C. Berkeley in the 1970s and 80s. Founded by Bay Area activists including disabled students at U.C. Berkeley, the CIL provided a critical platform for advocacy and services within the disability community. In a number of seminars and studios, Lifchez and others followed the initiatives of the CIL, documented the transformation of the built environment by disabled individuals in Berkeley, and incorporated their experiences in the design process. Rather than approaching disabled individuals as bearers of special needs, a number of specific pedagogical strategies explored their expertise and resourcefulness and incorporated them as informants, consultants, and designers. Supported by archival sources, oral histories, and publications of the period, this article contributes to ongoing discussions concerning the relationship between design and the environmental and social construction of disabilities as well as to the definition of design and architecture expertise. These pedagogies critically mobilized models to advance partial and flexible design interventions and simultaneously transformed the classroom into a model that challenged the naturalization of able-bodiedness in the built environment.

Ganesh, K., & Lazar, A. (2021). The work of workplace disclosure: Invisible chronic conditions and opportunities for design. PACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5(CSCW1), Article 73. DOI: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3449147

Health disclosure at work is complicated for people with invisible chronic conditions. Due to the lack of visible symptoms, invisible conditions affect the work life of people in ways that are not obvious to others. This study examines how people disclose and conceal their conditions in the workplace and opens the design space for this topic. In the first phase, we analyzed posts on two subreddit forums, r/migraine and r/fibromyalgia, and found a range of strategies that individuals use to disclose or conceal their conditions. In the second phase, we created five technological design concepts based on these strategies that were shown to eight people with migraines or fibromyalgia in semi-structured interviews. Based on these phases, we contribute understandings of disclosure and concealment of invisible conditions in the workplace for future research, such as potential areas for intervention ranging from individual to societal level efforts, as well as the potential and limitations of relying on empathy from others.

Graeme. (2021, August 12). A11y and Neurodiversity in Design: Towards a more Inclusive Web. Prototypr Digest Issue #210. 

Curated list of articles on neurodiversity, accessibility and more with a focus on the web.

Groulx, M., Freeman, S, & Lemieux, C. (2022, March). Accessible nature beyond city limits – A scoping review. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 37. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jort.2022.10049

The health and well-being benefits of nature contact are well known, but inequitably distributed across society. Focusing on the access needs of persons with a disability, the purpose of this study was to systematically examine research on the accessibility of nature-based tourism and recreation spaces outside of urban/community settings. Following a scoping review methodology, this study sought to examine policies, services, physical infrastructures, and regulatory standards intended to enable equitable use of nature-based settings by individuals of all ages and abilities, particularly persons with a disability. In total, 41 relevant studies were identified and analyzed. Findings indicate that there are considerable gaps in the provision of services and information that enable self-determination in the use and enjoyment of nature, and that accessibility in nature-based settings is conceptualized through three interrelated policy/design pathways: the adaptation pathway, the accommodation pathway, and the universal design pathway. As a whole, accessibility policy and standards research specific to natural settings outside of urban/community settings is highly limited.

Management implications: There are growing calls to promote inclusive nature experiences in tourism and recreation spaces outside of community settings. Management of such spaces must reconcile equity concerns with a host of other priorities like environmental conservation. In the case of promoting universal accessibility, few studies offer insight into the detailed standards that must be met to create barrier-free access, let alone how to integrate such standards with other management priorities. Transdisciplinary research partnerships that involve management personnel, environmental and public health researchers, and persons with a disability are needed to identify effective management synergies.

Guedes, L. S., Gibson, R. C., Ellis, K., Sitbon, L., & Landoni, M. (2022, October). Designing with and for People with Intellectual Disabilities. ASSETS ’22: Proceedings of the 24th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, Article No.: 106. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3517428.3550406.

People with intellectual disabilities often experience inequalities that affect the standard of their everyday lives. Assistive technologies can help alleviate some of these inequalities, yet abandonment rates remain high. This is in part due to a lack of involvement of all stakeholders in their design and evaluation, thus resulting in outputs that do not meet this cohort’s complex and heterogeneous needs. The aim of this half-day workshop is to focus on community building in a field that is relatively thin and disjointed, thereby enabling researchers to share experiences on how to design for and with people with intellectual disabilities, provide internal support, and establish new collaborations. Workshop outcomes will help to fill a gap in the available guidelines on how to include people with intellectual disabilities in research, through more accessible protocols as well as personalised and better fit-for-purpose technologies.

Guffey, E. (Ed.). After Universal Design: The Disability Design Revolution. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

How might we develop products made with and by disabled users rather than for them? Could we change living and working spaces to make them accessible rather than designing products that “fix” disabilities? How can we grow our capabilities to make designs more “bespoke” to each individual? After Universal Design brings together scholars, practitioners, and disabled users and makers to consider these questions and to argue for the necessity of a new user-centered design.

As many YouTube videos demonstrate, disabled designers are not only fulfilling the grand promises of DIY design but are also questioning what constitutes meaningful design itself. By forcing a rethink of the top-down professionalized practice of Universal Design, which has dominated thinking and practice around design for disability for decades, this book models what inclusive design and social justice can look like as activism, academic research, and everyday life practices today.

With chapters, case studies, and interviews exploring questions of design and personal agency, hardware and spaces, the experiences of prosthetics’ users, conventional hearing aid devices designed to suit personal style, and ways of facilitating pain self-reporting, these essays expand our understanding of what counts as design by offering alternative narratives about creativity and making. Using critical perspectives on disability, race, and gender, this book allow us to understand how design often works in the real world and challenges us to rethink ideas of “inclusion” in design.

Hamraie, A. (2013). Designing collective access: A feminist disability theory of universal design. In S. Tremain (Ed.), Improving Feminist Philosophy and Theory By Taking Account of Disability [Special Issue]. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(4). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v33i4.3871

Universal Design (UD) is a movement to produce built environments that are accessible to a broad range of human variation. Though UD is often taken for granted as synonymous with the best, most inclusive, forms of disability access, the values, methodologies, and epistemologies that underlie UD require closer scrutiny. This paper uses feminist and disability theories of architecture and geography in order to complicate the concepts of “universal” and “design” and to develop a feminist disability theory of UD wherein design is a material-discursive phenomenon that produces both physical environments and symbolic meaning. Furthermore, the paper examines ways in which to conceive UD as a project of collective access and social sustainability, rather than as a strategy targeted toward individual consumers and marketability. A conception of UD that is informed by a politics of interdependence and collective access would address the multiple intersectional forms of exclusion that inaccessible design produces.

Hamraie, A. (2016). Universal design and the problem of “post-disability” ideology. Design and Culture: The Journal of the Design Studies Forum, 8(3), 285-309. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17547075.2016.1218714.

Although Universal Design gains popularity as a common sense strategy for crafting built environments for all users, accessibility for disabled people remains a marginal area of inquiry within design practice and theory. This article argues that the tension between accessibility and Universal Design stems from inadequate critical and historical attention to the concept of disability as it relates to discourses of “good design.” This article draws upon critical disability theory to reveal the persistence of “post-disability” narratives and “ideologies of ability” from the eugenics era into the present theory and practice of Universal Design.

Hamraie, A. (2017). Building access: Universal design and the politics of disability. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Building Access investigates twentieth-century strategies for designing the world with disability in mind. Illustrated with a wealth of rare archival materials, this book brings together scientific, social, and political histories in what is not only the pioneering critical account of Universal Design but also a deep engagement with the politics of knowing, making, and belonging in twentieth-century United States.

Hamraie, A. (2018). Enlivened city: Inclusive design, biopolitics, and the philosophy of liveability. Built Environments, 44(1), 77-104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2148/benv.44.1.77

Shortly after the United States announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, mayors of global cities committed to addressing climate change via urban-scale projects aimed at promoting liveable, sustainable, and healthy communities. While such projects are taken for granted as serving the common good, this paper addresses the ideological dimensions of planning liveable cities with health promotion in mind. Liveability, I argue, is a normative ideology wherein liveliness and activation perform affective roles, associating urban design methods with feel-good imagined futures while rendering built structures as polemics against disabled and racialized populations. Using Nashville, Tennessee, a mid-sized US city, as a case study, the paper parses the progressive vision of the liveable city from the ideologies, political economies, and development practices that simultaneously activate some lives while excluding others.

Hamraie, A., & Fritsch, K. (2019). Crip technoscience manifesto. In K. Fritsch, A. Hamraie, M. Mills, & D. Serlin (Eds.), Special Section on Crip Technoscience. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 5(1), 1-34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.28968/cftt.v5i1.29607

As disabled people engaged in disability community, activism, and scholarship, our collective experiences and histories have taught us that we are effective agents of world-building and -dismantling toward more socially just relations. The grounds for social justice and world-remaking, however, are frictioned; technologies, architectures, and infrastructures are often designed and implemented without committing to disability as a difference that matters. This manifesto calls attention to the powerful, messy, non-innocent, contradictory, and nevertheless crucial work of what we name as ‘crip technoscience,’ practices of critique, alteration, and reinvention of our material-discursive world. Disabled people are experts and designers of everyday life. But we also harness technoscience for political action, refusing to comply with demands to cure, fix, or eliminate disability. Attentive to the intersectional workings of power and privilege, we agitate against independence and productivity as requirements for existence. Instead, we center technoscientific activism and critical design practices that foster disability justice.

Hendren, S. (2020). What can a body do? How we meet the built world. New York: Penguin Random House. 

Furniture and tools, kitchens and campuses and city streets—nearly everything human beings make and use is assistive technology, meant to bridge the gap between body and world. Yet unless, or until, a misfit between our own body and the world is acute enough to be understood as disability, we may never stop to consider—or reconsider—the hidden assumptions on which our everyday environment is built.

In a series of vivid stories drawn from the lived experience of disability and the ideas and innovations that have emerged from it—from cyborg arms to customizable cardboard chairs to deaf architecture—Sara Hendren invites us to rethink the things and settings we live with. What might assistance based on the body’s stunning capacity for adaptation—rather than a rigid insistence on “normalcy”—look like? Can we foster interdependent, not just independent, living? How do we creatively engineer public spaces that allow us all to navigate our common terrain? By rendering familiar objects and environments newly strange and wondrous, What Can a Body Do? helps us imagine a future that will better meet the extraordinary range of our collective needs and desires.

Holloway, C. (2019, March-April). Disability interaction (DIX): A manifesto. Interactions, 26(2), 44-49. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3310322

“Disability has often spurred designers to create novel technologies that have later become universal; for example, both the typewriter and the commercial email client originated from a need to communicate by blind and deaf people. The design constraints imposed by disability have pushed ingenuity to thrive within the design process. Recent technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and pervasive computing provide great scope for designers and researchers to explore this symbiosis when considering future innovations for disability, as well as for society at large. Here, we propose a new agenda for harnessing such opportunities; we call it disability interaction (DIX). DIX views disability as a source of innovation, one that can push the boundaries of the possible” (pp. 44-45).

Holloway, C., & Barbareschi, G. (2022). Disability interactions: Creating inclusive innovations [Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics (SLHCI) Series]. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-03759-7

Disability interactions (DIX) is a new approach to combining cross-disciplinary methods and theories from Human Computer Interaction (HCI), disability studies, assistive technology, and social development to co-create new technologies, experiences, and ways of working with disabled people. DIX focuses on the interactions people have with their technologies and the interactions which result because of technology use. A central theme of the approach is to tackle complex issues where disability problems are part of a system that does not have a simple solution. Therefore, DIX pushes researchers and practitioners to take a challenge-based approach, which enables both applied and basic research to happen alongside one another. DIX complements other frameworks and approaches that have been developed within HCI research and beyond. Traditional accessibility approaches are likely to focus on specific aspects of technology design and use without considering how features of large-scale assistive technology systems might influence the experiences of people with disabilities. DIX aims to embrace complexity from the start, to better translate the work of accessibility and assistive technology research into the real world. DIX also has a stronger focus on user-centered and participatory approaches across the whole value chain of technology, ensuring we design with the full system of technology in mind (from conceptualization and development to large-scale distribution and access). DIX also helps to acknowledge that solutions and approaches are often non-binary and that technologies and interactions that deliver value to disabled people in one situation can become a hindrance in a different context. Therefore, it offers a more nuanced guide to designing within the disability space, which expands the more traditional problem-solving approaches to designing for accessibility. This book explores why such a novel approach is needed and gives case studies of applications highlighting how different areas of focus—from education to health to work to global development—can benefit from applying a DIX perspective. We conclude with some lessons learned and a look ahead to the next 60 years of DIX.

Howlett, R., Sitbon, L., Hoogstrate, M., Sundeepa Balasuriya, S. (2021, October). Accessible citizen science, by people with intellectual disability In ASSETS ’21: The 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility 2021 Article No.: 48, 1–3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3441852.3476558

This research explores the conditions and opportunities for citizen science applications to enhance their accessibility to people with intellectual disability (ID). In this paper, we present how the knowledge gathered by co-designing with a group of 3 participants with ID led to a design judged accessible and engaging by another group of 4 participants with ID. We contribute the key elements of that design: static subject, visual engagement, embodiment and social connectedness.

Hudson, W. (2019, March-April). Asperger’s syndrome, autism, and camouflaging: Reduced empathy revisited. Interactions, 26(2), 55–59. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3305356

“The autism spectrum has an important role in technology fields. High systemizing skills are obviously very valuable in technological ventures, but the concomitant reduction in empathy raises real risks for interactive systems. We need to better understand and communicate these issues so that staff on the autism spectrum are more likely to be recruited and feel supported in their working environment. At the same time, we should recognize that higher adoption rates of user-centered methods are needed to ensure that users are involved throughout the development process: from early research through to regular usability evaluations” (p. 59).

Ignagni, E., Chandler, E., Collins, K., Darby, A., & Liddiard, K. (2019). Designing access together: Surviving the demand for resilience. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 8(4), 293–320. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v8i4.536.

Together we engaged in a project to co-design and co-create a fictional near-future world that would enable us to interrogate our present techno-social dilemmas.  Accessibility was central to our workshop for the way that access is always central to enacting crip, mad, Deaf, and spoonie[1] communities.  Without access, we cannot meet, discuss, share, struggle, fight, dismantle or create. Crucially, access was tied to our desire to co-create crip near-futures.

[1] The term spoonie refers to those who live with chronic conditions. Miserandino, C. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Jakupi, A., Morina, G., & Hasimja, D. (2023). Architecture challenges in attaining a complete education cycle for people with disabilities: Sharing experience from Kosovo. Journal of Accessibility and Design for All13(1), 94–112. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17411/jacces.v13i1.369.

Background: Education is continuing to develop different academic roles and services to meet the needs of society. The important value of education is more underlined in their built environment when they were supposed to undertake careful designs to avoid non-accessibility among space users. They also aim to create a good, efficient, and safe environment inside their premises. The built environment is a severe share of people with disabilities (PWDs)* attendance and continuation of the educational cycle. Objectives: Exploring the preparedness of the educational built environment in Kosovo for the PWD’s accessibility concerning building design modifications when ensuring adequate education, socialization, and a safe environment. Consequently, it reveals the contrasting ways architects and educational institutions outline and design for PWDs, and the range of doubtful models and approaches they bring to bear upon processes of architectural production and designing for PWDs (Hall et al., 1999). Furthermore, to understand the importance of architecture as one of the main factors influencing the education cycle of PWDs. Finally, and most importantly, how architecture causes this journey to stop. Methods: The descriptive research method’s survey, observation, and case study approach helps investigate the topic more in-depth and multi-sided. The research is conducted in all four educational levels: preschool, elementary school, high school, and higher education institutions. Conclusions: All four educational levels (preschool, elementary school, high school, university/college) showcase more or less the same physical barriers, but what needs to be noted is that the higher education facilities foster more PWDs accessibility than preschool or elementary school. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance that the first levels of educational facilities have fulfilled the universal design standards, thus not discontinuing the educational cycle from the beginning and creating involuntary isolation and social non-inclusion. As a result, it will further influence thinking and how architects design in their practice besides sharing Kosovo’s experience. The concept deals with the recommendations proposed on two scenarios for the Kosovo relevant institutions, the architect’s community and educational institutions.

Joseph, S., & Namboodiri, V. (2023). Measuring economic benefits of built environment accessibility technologies for people with disabilities. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 306, 381-388. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/shti230648.

Given the challenges of wayfinding in large indoor built environments, especially for persons with disabilities (PWDs), a new class of accessible technologies called built environment accessible technologies (BEAT) are being developed. Such technologies are envisioned to help achieve product and opportunity parity for PWDs. The impact and adoption of these BEATs depends largely on clear and quantifiable (tangible and intangible) economic benefits accrued to the end-users and stakeholders. This paper describes the results of a survey conducted to measure potential benefits in terms of quality of life and quality of work life (work productivity) by increased accessibility provisions within built environments as it relates to navigation for PWDs and those without disabilities. Results of this work indicate that BEATs have the greatest potential to improve mobility and exploratory activities for people with disabilities, exploratory activities for people without disabilities, and improve job security for everyone.

Kille-Speckter, L., and Nickpour, F. (2022) The evolution of inclusive design: A first timeline review of narratives and milestones of design for disability. In D. Lockton, S. Lenzi, P. Hekkert, A. Oak, J. Sádaba, & P. Lloyd (Eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June – 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.690.

This paper sets out to critically review the history of Inclusive Design on two distinct levels, i.e. the narratives that shape it and the historical milestones which contribute to its evolution. Through an illustrative review of literature and object ethnography, two sets of timelines are outlined. First, a milestone timeline helps establish the chronological evolution of Inclusive Design based on historical milestones and sociocultural perspectives. Second, a narrative timeline helps uncover the underlying narratives around matters of disability, design and inclusivity, and how they evolved. Though identifying historical and emerging shifts in mentality, the timeline review of narratives and milestones offer granular as well as holistic views on Inclusive Design as a field in need of more critically reflective approaches – conceptually and in practice.

Luchs, C. (2021). Graduate Member Musings: Considering neurodiversity in learning design and technology. TechTrends, 65, 923–924. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-021-00667-9

“Following in the footsteps of the Culture Learning, and Technology Graduate Student Collective’s (Clark-Stallkamp et al., 2021) focus on how positionality affects our design and our field, this article seeks to highlight the often overlooked neurotypical positionality in our LDT design and research. This call for critical theories, models and practices that question or replace the dominant deficit narrative is especially important considering the rapidly growing number of students with disabilities our institutions are serving (Clouder et al., 2020). Much of our learning design is based on what we have traditionally considered normal (neurotypical) learning rates of reading, comprehension, and recall. However, as we become more inclusive organizations and embrace our unique intersectionalities, what happens when more and more of our students, staff, and colleagues do not identify as neurotypical?”

McDonald, K., Schwartz,. A., & Fialka-Feldman, M. (2021). Belonging and knowledge production: Fostering influence over science via participatory research with people with developmental disabilities. In J. L. Jones & K. L. Gallus (Eds.), Belonging and resilience in individuals with developmental disabilities: Community and family engagement [Emerging Issues in Family and Individual Resilience Series] (pp. 97-118). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-81277-5_7

Research with people with developmental disabilities has a bleak history, marred by abuse and exclusion. In order to enhance the ability of science to promote the quality of life and human rights for all, we must transform relationships between scientists and individuals with developmental disabilities. Authentically partnering with community researchers with developmental disabilities is an ethical approach to enhance research quality and social validity. This chapter discusses historical and ethical issues related to previous research, followed by actions scientists without developmental disabilities can take to foster belonging of researchers with developmental disabilities in research partnerships, and beyond. Scientists can begin by developing a foundation in disability history and rights and becoming an ally and advocate for inclusion. Long-term and mutual relationships are critical for research partnerships, and full and authentic inclusion are facilitated by structures that show respect and foster engagement, participation, and shared decision-making. Additionally, transformative scientific relationships require ongoing reflective practice.

Mikulak, M., Ryan, S., Bebbington, P., Bennett, S., Carter, J., Davidson, L., Liddell, K., Vaid, A., & Albury, C. (2022, March). ‘’Ethno…graphy?!? I can’t even say it”: Co-designing training for ethnographic research for people with learning disabilities and carers. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(1), 52-60. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bld.12424

Background: There is a strong ethical case and an urgent need for more participatory research practices in disability research but a lack of resources to support this. It is important to involve people with learning disabilities and carers at all stages, including when designing training for co-research.

Methods: We co-developed training materials to support people with learning disabilities and carers to work as ethnographic co-researchers and for academic researchers to facilitate co-research. We focused on what people with learning disabilities and carers thought was important to learn.

Findings: Whilst not all types of research methods are easy to democratise, ethnographic observation is a research method that lends itself well to participatory co-research.

Conclusions: For people to be able to meaningfully participate, research processes need to become more accessible and transparent. Training that considers the needs and priorities of people with learning disabilities and carers and addresses the confidence gap is key for meaningful co-research.

Accessible Summary

  • We are a team of academic researchers, people with learning disabilities and carers. We worked together to design training materials for people with learning disabilities and carers to work as co-researchers on research projects.
  • The training was for doing a type of research called ethnography. When you do ethnography, you spend time with people to learn about their lives.
  • In this article, we describe what we did and what we learnt.
  • We think more people with learning disabilities and carers should be involved in research but many do not have the confidence to do it. Training can help with that.
  • We also think that ethnography is a type of research that can be easier to do than other types of research. This is because ethnography uses the skills lots of us already have the following: watching, listening and talking to people.

Mondelli, M,. & Justice, J. (2023). Aesthetic In-Access: Notes from a CripTech Metaverse Lab. Leonardo 2023; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/leon_a_02491.

“Metaverse” technologies, such as spatial audio, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), present new possibilities for disabled artists. To explore how artists use metaverse technologies – as well as the frictions that inhibit access – the authors describe the events of “CripTech Metaverse Lab,” which invited a cohort of disabled artists for a three-day workshop featuring metaverse experiences and a speculative design lab. Observing how participants creatively navigated these encounters, we introduce “aesthetic in-access” as a shared praxis developed by disabled users that transforms barriers to access into artistic expression. In doing so, we outline a metaverse future that centers disabled expression and joy.

Murray, V. (2019, September). Co-producing knowledge: Reflections on research on the residential geographies of learning disability. In L. Holt, J. Jeffries, E. Hall & A. Power (Eds.), Geographies of Co-production: Learning from Inclusive Research Approaches at the Margins [Special Issue]. Area, 51(3), 423-432. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12491

Most adults are able to take some control over where they live and are able to reflect on their migration histories, those places where they have lived and worked, and those places where they might aspire to live in the future. These life-altering decisions have been negotiated either autonomously or in conjunction with significant others in their lives. For some adults, most notably those with learning disabilities, these life decisions are partially, if not wholly, made for them by others. It is therefore the aim of this paper to uncover more about the decision-making opportunities afforded to people with learning disabilities regarding their home-spaces as they navigate “moving landscapes” that they have perhaps not envisaged for themselves. The paper identifies the need for a co-production of knowledge that recognises alternative methods of communication and participation in research, which seeks to de-mystify the authentic, and perhaps mundane, realities of living with a learning disability. Indeed, some geographers have questioned the integrity of research that fails to allow those with learning disabilities to control at least some part of the process. And so, by embracing lives that are “differently normal,” the paper seeks to challenge the role of the expert by engaging with methods that allow the distinction between researched and researcher to become blurred, allowing the voice of the learning-disabled individual clearly to be heard. Finally, the paper will discuss the disconnect between intended methodological approaches and those undertaken “in the field.”

National Endowment for the Arts. (2021, October). Disability design: Summary report from a field scan. Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts’ Accessibility Office in collaboration with the Design Program.

To better understand current trends in the disability design field, the NEA commissioned a field scan, which included a review of recent research and news articles as well as interviews with key subject matter experts. This report provides a summary of the field scan, sharing current trends and making recommendations for disability design in public spaces and for the human body and mind.

Also available is a podcast episode featuring an interview between Joshua Halstead, researcher for the report and Grace Jun, CEO of Open Style Lab.

Nilsson, E.M., Lundälv, J., & Eriksson, M. (2022). Design opportunities for future development of crisis communication technologies for marginalised groups – Co-designing with Swedish disability organisations. In M. Fabri & N. Newbutt (Eds.), Designing Enabling Technologies for Marginalised Groups [Special Issue]. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 16(3), 159-171. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JET-01-2022-0006.

Purpose: The purpose is to firstly, provide an example of how voices of people with various disabilities (motor, visual, hearing, and neuropsychiatric impairments) can be listened to and involved in the initial phases of a co-design process (Discover, Define). Secondly, to present the outcome of the joint explorations as design opportunities pointing out directions for future development of crisis communication technologies supporting people with disabilities in building crisis preparedness. The study was conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach: The study assumes a design research approach including a literature review, focus group interviews, a national online survey and collaborative (co-)design workshops involving crisis communicators and representatives of disability organisations in Sweden. The research- and design process was organised in line with the Double Diamond design process model consisting of the four phases: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver, whereof the two first phases are addressed in this paper.

Findings: The analysis of the survey data resulted in a series of challenges, which were presented to and evaluated by crisis communicators and representatives from the disability organisations at the workshops. Seven crisis communication challenges were identified, for example, the lack of understanding and knowledge of needs, conditions and what it means to build crisis preparedness for people with disabilities, the lack of and/or inability to develop digital competencies and the lack of social crisis preparedness. The challenges were translated into design opportunities to be used in the next step of the co-design process (Develop, Deliver).

Originality/value: This research paper offers both a conceptual approach and empirical perspectives of design opportunities in crisis communication. To translate identified challenges into design opportunities starting with a “How Might We”, creates conditions for both researchers, designers and people with disabilities to jointly turn something complex, such as a crisis communication challenge, into something concrete to act upon. That is, their joint explorations do not stop by “knowing”, but also enable them to in the next step take action by developing potential solutions for crisis communication technologies for facing these challenges.

O’Brien, P. (2022). Inclusive Research: Is the Road More or Less Well Travelled? [Special Issue]. Social Sciences, 11(3).

‘In this Special Issue how far have we come in terms of living up to the principles of inclusive research captured in the disability slogan, “Nothing about us without us”, or more pithily, “No researching about us without us” will be explored. The foundational principles of inclusive research were introduced in 2003 by Walmsley and Johnson with outcomes aimed at people with intellectual disability having ownership over the “what” and the “how “of the research agenda. The purpose of this Special Issue on inclusive research is to capture internationally, “Where have we come to?” and “Where do we need to go?” Such questions are relevant now that it has been 18 years since Johnson and Walmsley (2003) first introduced the inclusive research paradigm in their text, Inclusive research with people with learning disabilities: past present and future.

While there has been much growth in people with intellectual disability becoming visible and vocal as researchers across a range of content and methodologies (Jones et al, 2020), there has also been ongoing debate and development associated with Johnson and Walmsley’s foundational principles. Bigby and Frawley (2014a, 2014b) illustrated a three-component framework of inclusive research which ranged from an advisory role, to that of collaboration between co-researchers with intellectual disability and those without, to that of researchers with intellectual disability leading and controlling the research process. Whereas Nind and Vinha (2014) and Riches et al (2017) identified a less divided landscape placing importance on inclusive research being characterised by shared learning, mutuality, and reciprocity.    Riches et al heightened the value of such characteristics by reporting a sense of belonging that came from being a member of an inclusive research team.

Johnson and Walmsley re-joined the debate in 2017 updating their original definition to additionally guide a second generation of inclusive researchers to work towards social change, campaigning for others, as well as standing with others on issues important to them (Walmsley, Strnadova & Johnson, 2018). Beyond the characteristics of the second-generation Milner and Frawley (2019) have called for space for a third wave of inclusive research where the focus is placed on research praxis that is self-directed by the researcher with the lived experience of disability. Such methodology aims to circumvent “othering” that can come from the unquestioned expectation that co-researchers with intellectual disability will fit into the mode of traditional research data collection methods.

The Special Issue promotes inclusive research as a paradigm that has continued to promote transfer of power from those that were once the “researched” to being and becoming the “researchers”. This issue draws upon the work of researchers who have adopted this paradigm to redress the exclusion of people with intellectual disability as partners in the research process. Apart from contributing to the journal in an area of their own interest they reflect as research practitioners on how their involvement in inclusive research has developed over the years. Also, this issue provides opportunities for all members of inclusive research teams to co-author articles through use of accessible innovative contributions. Publishing for authors with intellectual disability has proved challenging (Riches et al, 2020) and this Special Issue supports digital contributions such as video abstracts, video interviews, PowerPoint slide sets and photographs. Such innovation is aimed at bridging the divide between those inclusive research team members that publish and those who do not. Further all articles are cost neutral to bridge the economic gap between salaried and non-salaried researchers. Articles assigned to this special issue include:

  • Inclusive Research in Health, Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology: Beyond the Binary of the ‘Researcher’ and the ‘Researched’
  • Relationships of People with Intellectual Disabilities in Times of Pandemic: An Inclusive Study 
  • A Closer Look at the Quest for an Inclusive Research Project: ‘I Had No Experience with Scientific Research, and then the Ball of Cooperation Started Rolling’
  • On the Road Together: Issues Observed in the Process of a Research Duo Working Together in a Long-Term and Intense Collaboration in an Inclusive Research Project
  • Reflections on Working Together in an Inclusive Research Team
  • Reflecting on the Value of Community Researchers in Criminal Justice Research Projects
  • Doing Research Inclusively: Understanding What It Means to Do Research with and Alongside People with Profound Intellectual Disabilities
  • Inclusive Research and the Use of Visual, Creative and Narrative Strategies in Spain
  • How Being a Researcher Impacted My Life
  • Experiences of Inclusive Action and Social Design Research with Social Workers and People with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Graduating University as a Woman with Down Syndrome: Reflecting on My Education
  • Reflections on the Implementation of an Ongoing Inclusive Research Project
  • Being an Inclusive Researcher in a National Consultation Exercise—A Case Study

Oswal, S. K. (2022). Reshaping the philosophical backdrop for disability-inclusive user experience design: The case of a socially-aware, collaborative, international translation project. In IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm), Limerick, Ireland (pp. 358-363). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/ProComm53155.2022.00073.

This paper extends Bruce Maylath’s translation work to incorporate the values of disability and accessibility as an essential aspect of language work in a digitally-restructured, international industry aimed at supplying on-call translations using online tools integrated in websites and search engines, as well as, the traditional translations. In this paper, first, I briefly discuss a virtual, international collaboration among three classes focusing on the teaching of accessibility in the context of business planning and website design as an example of integrated accessibility pedagogy. In the second half of the paper, I describe the design of a new collaboration that takes Maylath’s translation-based, international collaboration project in the direction of disability inclusion in translation while inviting instructors in our field to participate in virtual, collaborative translation partnerships that would provide a platform for inclusive translation processes and products. The partnership’s aim will be to engage student teams in questions of access for disabled participants in translation work for generating accessible user experiences. Instead of indulging in the rhetoric of social justice or service learning, this approach asks our field to develop professional competency in accessible translation processes and design that honors the rights of users with disabilities to access information on par with all other users, enjoy meaningful and inclusive design experiences, and accept them as participant users and co-designers of translations.

Özdemir, Ş., & Sungur, A. (in press). A model proposal for university campuses in the context of inclusive design. A|Z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture Articles in Press: ITUJFA-92342. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5505/itujfa.2022.92342

Urban public spaces should be shaped according to the need as they occupy an important place in urban development. The campuses serve as a small city due to the facilities and social environment they have and thus emerge as important public spaces. Campus areas affect our attitudes towards education and should be tailored to the needs and designed to cover all campus users. As a modern design approach, the inclusive design philosophy; To create quality spaces by increasing the livability and quality of university campuses as a public space, and to spread this philosophy to the whole society in their professional lives by ensuring that this design concept is placed on university students, who are the main campus users, who will provide the development of the society. It is to determine the problems faced by the users in the university campuses, research the approaches and examples that will allow all users to access the campus equipment, use this equipment as they wish, and develop solutions for the problems encountered. This study aims to create an evaluation model to create an inclusive campus environment. The creation of the checklist, which was prepared as a priority, as detailed in the field study. The field study continued with the implementation and results of the checklist in the selected Davutpaşa campus. The fieldwork carried out in the Davutpaşa campus was divided into four categories: psycho-social arrangements, administrative arrangements, outdoor and indoor physical arrangements.

Pérez Liebergesell, N.,Vermeersch, P., & Heylighen, A. (2021). Urban chandelier: How experiences of being vision impaired inform designing for attentiveness. Journal of Interior Design, 46(1), 73-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/joid.12192.

Prevailing conceptions of disability in architectural discourse give rise to the devaluing of disabled people’s lived experiences. However, several studies in architecture and disability studies show how disability experience may lead to a careful attentiveness toward the qualities of the built environment that are relevant for design. Using focused ethnography, we examine how architect William Feuerman’s disruptive vision impairment restructured his attention. The insights gained from his experience were incorporated conceptually into his design practice, and the resulting design principles were realized in one of his office’s projects—Urban Chandelier, a design intervention positioned in an urban installation. Feuerman’s experiences encouraged him to deliberately introduce disruption into his design, aiming not to disable everyone, but to make passers-by attentive to their surroundings. He re-organizes people’s modes of attention through the distinct visual qualities of architecture, generating new meaning, in a similar manner as the stroke that affected his attention. We conclude that considering disabled people’s lived experiences demonstrates potential in designing artifacts experientially interesting for a broad population, including but not limited to disabled people.

Pineda, V. S. (Ed.). (2022). Universally Accessible Public Spaces for All [Special Issue]. The Journal of Public Space, 7(2).

At the occasion of the 10th session of the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi (2020), the World Blind Union (WBU) and City Space Architecture committed to develop and publish a special issue of The Journal of Public Space with a specific focus on universally accessible public spaces. This voluntary commitment was included in the Forum’s outcome declaration, the Abu Dhabi Declared Actions (2021), intended to support accelerating the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and urban dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the Decade of Action. In particular this Special Issue is contributing to Goal 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, and its outcomes are focusing on Goal 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Today, more than half of the world’s population live in cities, 15 percent of them being persons with disabilities. By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban communities including over two billion persons with disabilities and older persons requiring inclusive and accessible infrastructure and services to live independently and participate on an equal basis in all aspects of society. Local and regional governments, and other key urban stakeholders, face immense pressure to adapt strategies, policies, and urban planning and design practices to fully respond to the rights and needs of all persons with disabilities and intersecting social groups.

Pullin, G. (2009). Design meets disability. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 

How design for disabled people and mainstream design could inspire, provoke, and radically change each other.

Eyeglasses have been transformed from medical necessity to fashion accessory. This revolution has come about through embracing the design culture of the fashion industry. Why shouldn’t design sensibilities also be applied to hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, and communication aids? In return, disability can provoke radical new directions in mainstream design. Charles and Ray Eames’s iconic furniture was inspired by a molded plywood leg splint that they designed for injured and disabled servicemen. Designers today could be similarly inspired by disability.

In Design Meets Disability, Graham Pullin shows us how design and disability can inspire each other. In the Eameses’ work there was a healthy tension between cut-to-the-chase problem solving and more playful explorations. Pullin offers examples of how design can meet disability today. Why, he asks, shouldn’t hearing aids be as fashionable as eyewear? What new forms of braille signage might proliferate if designers kept both sighted and visually impaired people in mind? Can simple designs avoid the need for complicated accessibility features? Can such emerging design methods as “experience prototyping” and “critical design” complement clinical trials?

Pullin also presents a series of interviews with leading designers about specific disability design projects, including stepstools for people with restricted growth, prosthetic legs (and whether they can be both honest and beautifully designed), and text-to-speech technology with tone of voice. When design meets disability, the diversity of complementary, even contradictory, approaches can enrich each field.

Purcell, C., Fisher, K. R., Robinson, S., Meltzer, A., & Bevan, N. (2019, September). Co-production in peer support group research with disabled people. In L. Holt, J. Jeffries, E. Hall & A. Power (Eds.), Geographies of Co-production: Learning from Inclusive Research Approaches at the Margins [Special Issue]. Area, 51(3), 405-414. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12441

Peer support action research is a co-production method used by groups of people with a shared experience, in order to generate knowledge and mutual assistance. This paper analyses co-production experiences from a recent Australian research project, which formed peer support groups to explore how disabled people were managing their transition to self-directed support. Using the project as a case study and applying a community participation framework derived from social geography, this paper addresses questions about which collaborative mechanisms strengthen peer support research so that the research process and outputs benefit each of the participants involved. The project used a mixed-method, co-production approach. University researchers formed research partnerships with disability community organisations to support the research activity in each Australian state. The community organisations formed peer support groups, facilitated the groups and communicated group processes and findings to the university researchers. The group members and facilitators decided what they wanted to do in the group and how to do it. The academics provided research support, training, a topic guide and resources for group activities. All participants reflected on challenges and lessons learnt and modified the project as it progressed. Both the methods and findings have implications for peer support as co-productive research. The process enhanced the research capacity of the participants, disability community and academics, and strengthened peer support, advocacy and confidence about self-directed support. The findings from the peer support groups about their transition to self-directed support demonstrated their preference for, and trust in, peers as information sources. The regular collective reflections with the facilitators produced an additional level of data collection and analysis that enhanced the quality of the co-production, enabling greater participant control over design and knowledge generation.

Race, L., James, A., Hayward, A., El-Amin, K., Gold Patterson, M., & Mershon, T. (2021, October). Designing sensory and social tools for neurodivergent individuals in social media environments. In ASSETS ’21: The 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility Article No.: 61, 1–5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3441852.3476546

Sensory guides and social narratives are learning tools that provide sensory and social support to neurodivergent individuals. These tools—and their design guidelines—have historically been developed for physical environments, such as museums and classrooms. They lack support for social media environments, where sensory stimuli and social contexts can be complex and uncertain. We address these challenges by designing a novel social media sensory guide and social narrative, specifically adapted for social media interaction. We leverage our use case, Twitter Spaces—an audio-only conversation feature in beta. The goal of this pilot study is to determine whether neurodivergent users want sensory guides and social narratives adapted for social media, and if users find them helpful in setting expectations for social media interaction. We evaluate these tools with eight neurodivergent Twitter users, using tasks and thinking aloud. Results indicate a strong potential for adoption of both tools among neurodivergent individuals to reduce overstimulation in social media environments.

Rieger, J., & Rolfe, A. (2021, May). Breaking barriers: Educating design students about inclusive design through an authentic learning framework. The International Journal of Art & Design Education, 40(2), 359-373. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jade.12348

Current studies in design education suggest that students and educators base their designs on what they already know about themselves and their peers, or on stereotypical notions of others. This article presents a critical examination of a pedagogical approach employed in several architecture and interior design studios to determine how best to develop student understanding of how to design for real users and users with abilities different from themselves. This authentic learning approach with spatial design students and teachers from the School of Design, Queensland University of Technology, Australia and with people with differing abilities, used qualitative and quantitative questionnaires, student journals and design studio projects to create a multimodal data set. While there are no simple conclusions, or easy answers to unravel the complexity in creating inclusive designs, our findings point towards enabling new engagements and knowledge processes and scaffolding these activities around authentic learning, so that design students and educators can begin to understand the differing ways of designing for/with people with disabilities. The significance of this research is that it opens up new approaches for teaching design students about inclusive design beyond fake personas, building codes and anthropometric data, and provides evidence of the need for a more holistic, authentic and scaffolded approach.

Safari, M.C., Wass, S. and Thygesen, E., 2021. ‘I got to answer the way I wanted to’: Intellectual disabilities and participation in technology design activities. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 23(1),192–203. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16993/sjdr.798

User involvement in technology design processes can have positive implications for the designed service, but less is known about how such participation affects people with intellectual disabilities. We explored how 13 individuals with intellectual disabilities experienced participation in the design of a transport support application. The study is based on qualitative interviews, photovoice interviews, participant observations, and Smileyometer ratings. A thematic analysis generated the following themes: a sense of pride and ownership, an experience of socialization, and a sense of empowerment. The findings suggest that participation in design activities is a primarily positive experience that develops the participants’ skills. However, experiences such as boredom may occur. The variability within the experiences of the participants show that it is crucial to be aware of individuality, preferences, and personal interests when designing with people with intellectual disabilities.

Sánchez, F. (2018). Enabling geographies: Mapping campus spaces through disability and access. Pedagogy, 18(3), 433–456. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-6936867

This article discusses the advantages of asking students to consider issues of access and disability as they map campus spaces. Putting place-based and mapping pedagogy in conversation with scholarship on disability, I propose that having students learn to better account for different uses of space can help them consider the ideologies that shape spaces.

Seale, J., Colwell, C., Coughlan, T., Heiman, T., Kaspi-Tsahor, D., & Olenik-Shemesh. D. (2021. March). ‘Dreaming in colour’: disabled higher education students’ perspectives on improving design practices that would enable them to benefit from their use of technologies. Education and Information Technologies, 26(2), 1687–1719. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-020-10329-7

The focus of this paper is the design of technology products and services for disabled students in higher education. It analyses the perspectives of disabled students studying in the US, the UK, Germany, Israel and Canada, regarding their experiences of using technologies to support their learning. The students shared how the functionality of the technologies supported them to study and enabled them to achieve their academic potential. Despite these positive outcomes, the students also reported difficulties associated with: i) the design of the technologies, ii) a lack of technology know-how and iii) a lack of social capital. When identifying potential solutions to these difficulties the disabled students imagined both preferable and possible futures where faculty, higher education institutions, researchers and technology companies are challenged to push the boundaries of their current design practices.

Stephens, L., Smith, H., Epstein, I., Baljko, M., Mcintosh, I., & Dadashi, N. (2023). Accessibility and participatory design: time, power, and facilitation. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15710882.2023.2214145.

This paper documents the goals, techniques, and outcomes of nine interventions designed to improve the accessibility of a design charette (DC). These interventions focused on Time, Power, and Facilitation and were developed based on critiques found in design literature, critical disability scholarship, and the lived expertise of disabled people. Data was collected through recording activities and outputs, recorded observations, and elicited feedback. We found that adjusting time, which is essential for access, was difficult and required trade-offs. We also suggest that the presence of a ‘vibes watch’ facilitation role to monitor participation frequency, emotional tone, and power dynamics can be useful to address uneven power relations, caucusing can also be valuable but should be used at specific moments. Non-neutral facilitation, anti-oppression training, and regular reflection can help facilitation/design teams identify and address exclusionary practices. Technology can aid but also constrain access. Finally, despite all interventions, access remains a site of friction and political choices. Stakeholders continue to participate in different and not always equally valued ways, so secondary analysis is useful for understanding charette products or outputs.

Smith, D. (2018). Architectural sites of discrimination: Positive to negative. In K. Ellis, R. Garland-Thomson, M. Kent, & R. Robertson (Eds.), Manifestos for the Future of Critical Disability Studies Vol. 1 (pp. 142-155). New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351053341

Architecture and interior settings are important aspects of everyday life for people with disabilities. An environmental situation consists of the contextually located architectural envelope, the interior – as well as constituent parts such as furniture – as well as its occupants. The physical environment can be an enabler for those who have impairments – the environmental concepts of space and place are thus implicated in the discourse of disability. Architecture and interior settings are important aspects of everyday life for people with disabilities. Places where author reside, study, shop, recuperate and play provide a multitude of possibilities for each and every one of them. Concurrently, these same places are sites of differentiation and discrimination – opportunities to interpret and judge are inherent. In the field of design for people with disabilities, these assumptions and expectations are underpinned by the same principles, and are just as important.

Spektor., F., & Fox, S. (2020, December). The ‘working body’: Interrogating and reimagining the productivist impulses of transhumanism through crip-centered speculative design. In S. Moran (Ed.), The Somatechnics of Critical Design [Feature Issue]. Somatechnics, 10(3), 327-354. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/soma.2020.0326

Appeals to ‘nature’ have historically led to normative claims about who is rendered valuable. These understandings elevate a universal, working body (read able-bodied, white, producing capital) that design and disability studies scholar Aimi Hamraie argues ‘has served as a template […] for centuries’ (2017: 20), becoming reified through our architectural, political, and technological infrastructures. Using the framing of the cyborg, we explore how contemporary assistive technologies have the potential to both reproduce and trouble such normative claims. The modern transhumanism movement imagines cyborg bodies as self-contained and invincible, championing assistive technologies that seek to assimilate disabled people towards ever-increasing standards of independent productivity and connecting worth with the body’s capacity for labor. In contrast, disability justice communities see all bodies as inherently worthy and situated within a network of care-relationships. Rather than being invincible, the cripborg’s relationship with technology is complicated by the ever-present functional and financial constraints of their assistive devices. Despite these lived experiences, the expertise and agency of disabled activist communities is rarely engaged throughout the design process. In this article, we use speculative design techniques to reimagine assistive technologies with members of disability communities, resulting in three fictional design proposals. The first is a manual for a malfunctioning exoskeleton, meant to fill in the gaps where corporate planned obsolescence and black-boxed design delimit repair and maintenance. The second is a zine instructing readers on how to build their own intimate prosthetics, emphasizing the need to design for pleasurable, embodied, and affective experience. The final design proposal is a city-owned fleet of assistive robots meant to push people in manual wheelchairs up hills or carry loads for elderly people, an example of an environmental adaptation which explores the problems of automating care. With and through these design concepts, we begin to explore assistive devices that center the values of disability communities, using design proposals to co-imagine versions of a more crip-centered future.

Spiel, K. (2021). The bodies of TEI – Investigating norms and assumptions in the design of embodied interaction. In TEI’21: ACM International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, Feb 14–17, 2021, Salzburg, Austria (pp. 1-19). New York: ACM. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3430524.3440651

In the few decades since the first mainframe computers, computing technologies have grown smaller, and more pervasive, moving onto and even inside human bodies. Even as those bodies have received increased attention by scholars, designers, and technologists, the bodily expectations and understandings articulated by these technological artefacts have not been a focus of inquiry in the field. I conducted a feminist content analysis on select papers in the proceeding of the ACM International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) since its inception in 2007. My analysis illustrates how artefacts are implicitly oriented on unmarked bodily norms, while technologies designed for non-normative bodies treat those as deviant and in need of correction. Subsequently, I derive a range of provocations focused on material bodies in embodied interaction which offer a point of reflection and identify potentials for future work in the field.

Spiel, K., & Angelini, R. (2022). Expressive bodies engaging with embodied disability cultures for collaborative design critiques. In Proceedings of the 24th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS ’22), Article 7, 1–6. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3517428.3551350.

In our experience as researchers engaging with non-academic audiences, we observed that it remains a challenge to receive direct and critical feedback from participants. This is particularly amplified in the context of disabilities even if the researchers identify themselves as disabled given that the interaction is governed by social status and material power dimensions to say the least. To work productively with these power dynamics, we explored embodied approaches to articulating critique acknowledging the different ways of knowing stemming from different bodyminds. Here, we line out two exploratory cases illustrating how physical bodies can be directly attended to to express critiques in more direct ways than participants might be used to on a language based level (spoken or signed). We show how communication and critique can take on many forms encouraging us to broaden our methodological toolset to incorporate practices common in disability cultures. Our experiences show that we need to embrace crip approaches to knowledge production to receive more actionable and useful feedback in developing technologies with disabled communities.

Stark, E., Ali, D., Ayre, A., Schneider, N., Parveen, S., Marais, K., Holmes, N., & Pender, R. (2021). Coproduction with Autistic Adults: Reflections from the Authentistic Research Collective. Autism in Adulthood, 3(2), 195-203. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1089/aut.2020.0050.

This article explores coproduction in relation to autistic people. We reflect on the coproduction process with autistic adults from the Authentistic Research Collective at University College London. We aimed to support the autistic population’s mental health needs by coproducing a document on adapting psychological therapy, and by developing a set of reflective guidelines to guide and encourage future coproduction initiatives between autistic and nonautistic team members. We reflect upon six elements that are of potential importance for future coproduction projects with autistic adults: (1) the meaning of coproduction; (2) ground rules and a traffic light system; (3) environmental adaptations; (4) digital communication tools; (5) encouraging authenticity; and (6) supporting autistic strengths. We conclude by discussing future research avenues into optimizing coproduction with autistic people, and how such research may influence both practice and policy.

Storer, K. M., & Branham, S. M. (2021, October). Deinstitutionalizing independence: Discourses of disability and housing in accessible computing. In ASSETS ’21: The 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility Article No. 31, 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3441852.3471213

The meaning of “homes” is complicated for disabled people because of the historical link between (de)institutionalization, housing, and civil rights. But, it is unclear whether and how this history impacts Accessible Computing (AC) research in domestic spaces. We performed Critical Discourse Analysis on 101 AC articles to explore how (de)institutionalization affects domestic AC research. We found (de)institutionalization motivates goals of “independence” for disabled people. Yet, discourses of housing reflected institutional logics which are in tension with “independence”—complicating how goals were set, housing was understood, and design was approached. We outline three discourses of housing in AC and identify parallels to those used to justify institutionalization in the USA. We reflect upon their consequences for AC research. We offer principles derived from the Independent Living Movement as frameworks for challenging institutional conceptions of housing, to open new avenues for more holistic and anti-ableist domestic AC research.

Waggoner, T., Jose, J. A., Nair, A., &  Susanthika, M. D. (2021). Inclusive Design: Accessibility Settings for People with Cognitive Disabilities. Journal of Information Technology and Software Engineering,11(2), No:252. 

The advancement of technology has progressed faster than any other field in the world. And with the development of these new technologies, it is important to make sure that these tools can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities. Accessibility options in computing devices help ensure that everyone has the same access to advanced technologies. Unfortunately, for those who require more unique and sometimes challenging accommodations, such as people with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most commonly used accessibility features are simply not enough. While assistive technology for those with ALS does exist, it requires multiple peripheral devices that can become quite expensive collectively. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a more affordable and readily available option for ALS assistive technology that can be implemented on a smartphone or tablet.

Waardenburg, T., van Huizen, N., van Dijk, J., Dortmans, K., Magnée, M., Staal, W., Teunisse, J. P., & van der Voort, M. (2022). Design your life: User-initiated design of technology to empower autistic young adults. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 16(3), 172-188. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JET-11-2021-0064.

Purpose: This article describes the development and initial experiences of Design Your Life, a new design approach implementing user-initiated design of technological environments that support autistic young adults to live independently.

Design/methodology/approach: This article makes use of a phenomenological Research-through-Design approach. Investigation of possible ways in which a set of four guiding principles could be applied into a design toolkit for autistic young adults and their caregivers by means of three design case studies was conducted. Promising methods from the design practice and literature were applied and contrasted with the lived experiences and practical contexts of autistic young adults and their caregivers.

Findings: This exploratory research yielded several important insights for the design direction of Design Your Life. Reflecting on how the guiding principles played out in practice it was noted that: the case studies showed that stakeholders appreciate the approach. The design principles applied cannot be used without the help of a sparring partner. This suggests that caregivers may be trained in design-thinking to fulfil this role. The Design Your Life method will be iteratively developed, refined and validated in practice.

Originality/value: The presented approach puts design tools in the hands of the people who will use the technology. Furthermore, the approach sees technologies as empowering interventions by which a person can strengthen their own living environment. According to this article, this approach is new for this application. It provides valuable perspectives and considerations for autistic people, caregivers, researchers and policy makers.

Wickman, R. (2020. Accessible architecture: Beyond the ramp. Winnipeg: Gemma B. Publishing.

Growing up with a father who was disabled by an industrial accident, Architect Ron Wickman determined to help build an accessible world, one project at a time. “Accessibility is an essential feature of all successful architecture. No one should be denied access to the built environment.”

This easy-to-read book develops nine concepts toward the creation of greater accessibility in both public and private spaces. The book is illustrated with photos, working drawings and space plans with commentary from Wickman’s practise and elsewhere. 

Williamson, B. (2020). Accessible America: A history of disability and design [Crip]. New York: New York University Press. 

Have you ever hit the big blue button to activate automatic doors? Have you ever used an ergonomic kitchen tool? Have you ever used curb cuts to roll a stroller across an intersection? If you have, then you’ve benefited from accessible design—design for people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities. These ubiquitous touchstones of modern life were once anything but. Disability advocates fought tirelessly to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities became a standard part of public design thinking. That fight took many forms worldwide, but in the United States it became a civil rights issue; activists used design to make an argument about the place of people with disabilities in public life.

In the aftermath of World War II, with injured veterans returning home and the polio epidemic reaching the Oval Office, the needs of people with disabilities came forcibly into the public eye as they never had before. The US became the first country to enact federal accessibility laws, beginning with the Architectural Barriers Act in 1968 and continuing through the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, bringing about a wholesale rethinking of our built environment. This progression wasn’t straightforward or easy. Early legislation and design efforts were often haphazard or poorly implemented, with decidedly mixed results. Political resistance to accommodating the needs of people with disabilities was strong; so, too, was resistance among architectural and industrial designers, for whom accessible design wasn’t “real” design.

Bess Williamson provides an extraordinary look at everyday design, marrying accessibility with aesthetic, to provide an insight into a world in which we are all active participants, but often passive onlookers. Richly detailed, with stories of politics and innovation, Williamson’s Accessible America takes us through this important history, showing how American ideas of individualism and rights came to shape the material world, often with unexpected consequences.

Williamson, B., & Guffey, E. (Eds.). (2020). Making disability modern: Design histories. New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Making Disability Modern: Design Histories brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplinary and national perspectives to examine how designed objects and spaces contributes to the meanings of ability and disability from the late 18th century to the present day, and in homes, offices, and schools to realms of national and international politics. The contributors reveal the social role of objects – particularly those designed for use by people with disabilities, such as walking sticks, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs – and consider the active role that makers, users and designers take to reshape the material environment into a usable world. But it also aims to make clear that definitions of disability-and ability-are often shaped by design.

Wilson, C., Sitbon, L., Brereton, M., Johnson, D., & Koplick, S. (2016). ‘Put yourself in the picture’: designing for futures with young adults with intellectual disability. In OzCHI ’16: Proceedings of the 28th Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (pp. 271–281) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3010915.3010924.

Individuals with intellectual disability are all too often overlooked in the planning of their own support. Responding to this concern, and in line with person-centred planning, this paper outlines the collaborative development of a mobile app to support the communication, interests and goals of young adults who attend a disability support organisation. Existing technologies focus predominantly on enhancing academic abilities, such as literacy or numeracy, disregarding the potential to support personal interests and individual goals. Through a process of Reflective Agile Iterative Design (RAID), a mobile app was developed which enabled young adults with intellectual disability to produce an image of themselves achieving a certain goal. Although the app was designed for individual use in formal goal-setting meetings, participants used the app for social activities, such as taking ‘group selfies’, emailing their images to proxies and ‘layering’ selfies. The app supported the individuals beyond the planning process, contributing more broadly to enhancing overall communication, self-expression, and socialisation.

Wolf-Meyer M. (2022). Human-centred design, disability and bioethics.
Human-centred design methodologies provide a means to align bioethical advocacy with the needs and desires of disabled people. As a method, human-centred design seeks to locate points of friction in an individual’s experience of everyday interactions, specifically in relation to technologies, but potentially in relation to processes and institutions. By focusing on disabled persons and their experiences of institutional organisation, human-centred design practices serve to create a foundation for a bioethical practice that addresses idiosyncratic needs and desires while providing support for disabled persons and their families. In considering how a design-focused bioethics might operate in this way, I focus on advanced sleep phase syndrome and delayed sleep phase syndrome as a way to show how the temporal ordering of institutions disable the participation of individuals with atypical sleep needs. I then turn to the education of deaf students through the exclusive use of sound, which puts them at a significant disadvantage relative to their hearing peers; this example shows how normative ableism obscures itself in attempts to aid disabled people, but an attention to the experience of deaf students show how exclusively auditory learning can be redesigned. Advocating for flexible institutional organisation and practices situates bioethical advocacy as a means to engage with social organisations in ways that create novel opportunities for able-bodied and disabled people alike.
Worsley, M., & Bar-El, D. (2020). Inclusive making: designing tools and experiences to promote accessibility and redefine making. Computer Science Education Ahead of Print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08993408.2020.1863705

Background and Context: Making is celebrated for bringing exciting tools and learning opportunities to non-traditional designers. However, people with disabilities may find themselves excluded from many making activities and makerspaces. This exclusion is present in making and computer science more broadly.

Objective: We describe a university course that helps broaden their awareness of accessibility in computing and promote accessible making solutions. The course engages students in critical examination of making and allows them to instantiate their learning by designing accessible interfaces and experiences. We study the design of the course and its impacts on students.

Method: We use techniques from grounded theory to analyze data from surveys, projects, and case studies to elucidate the need and the impact of this experience.

Findings: The course filled an important need for students and people with disabilities. By applying a critical disability lens to making, participants developed expansive views of making, both in terms of what “counts” as making and who can participate in it.

Implications: Courses on accessibility address important societal and individual needs that are currently not met by CS curricula. Courses that address these needs should include critical discussions of the domain in question and involve various types of community partnerships. Including these course elements can expand the course’s impact, lead to better project designs, and change perceptions of what is valuable in computing experiences.

Worth, N. (2008, September). The significance of the personal within disability geography. Area, 40(3), 306-314. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2008.00835.x.

Drawing on in-depth qualitative data, this article critically examines disability geography as a subfield where the personal is highly valued. The value and the risks inherent in this personal approach will be evaluated, including the usefulness of being an ‘insider’ and the difficulties of being reflexive and critically making use of one’s positionality. The article concludes with reflections regarding how disability geography can confront its marginal status, appealing to researchers who claim no experience of disability while also supporting and encouraging those with personal experiences of disability to participate in the field.

Zallio, M., & Clarkson, J. (2021, December). Inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in the built environment: A study of architectural design practice. Building and Environment, 206, 108352. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108352

Accessibility is generally recognised as an important element of architectural design practice. However, studies suggest that the adoption of Inclusive Design by the architectural design community is still quite limited. Inclusive Design embraces the principles of accessibility and its extended definition considers key sociological and behavioural aspects such as physical, sensory and cognitive needs.

This paper presents the results of an ethnographic study, conducted amongst 26 professionals from the building industry, on the adoption of Inclusive Design.

This research aims to explore the challenges and limitations that professionals experience in their daily working practice and to identify strategies to expand the use of Inclusive Design and its extended definition.

The findings emphasise how education and awareness are essential factors to encourage an inclusive mindset amongst architectural design professionals and other stakeholders. In particular, holistically mapping the user journey during the design phase and collecting and evaluating post-occupancy user feedback are complementary strategies that can foster a design process based on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility principles for the built environment.