Ahead of the conference, I want to give shout out to the three women who helped contribute to my presentation on Inclusive Design for Big Design this coming weekend. As a fully-abled person, I know that my experience and understanding is minimal when it comes to the needs, experiences, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs of people who have to navigate a world very different from mine. With that in mind, I reached out to see if any people who were differently-abled had a story they wanted to share to help show how powerful inclusive design can be. This resulted in three interviews with three amazing women all doing what they can to help inform the rest of us about what it is like to live in a world with, stealing the phrase from Kat Holmes, mismatched experiences.
Lauren Taylor – Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2019
Lauren was referred to me through Facebook via a mutual friend. She is a master’s student in the UNT – Department of Rehabilitation & Health Services rehabilitation counseling program and is studying to receive her license as a certified counselor. She wants to specialize in physical disabilities. Lauren was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy at the age of one and has been in a power chair since the age of three. In her spare time, she volunteers with Canine Companions for Independence alongside her service dog, Buchanan, by raising awareness about the necessity of service dogs and educating others on service dog fraud. Lauren works closely with UNT to make it more universally designed for all students. Her work with Classroom Support Services has enabled her to personally create desks for fixed seating classrooms that are inclusive to every student and are permanently installed, rather than a temporary and separate accommodation. She currently works at REACH, Inc. of Denton as a Youth Transition Specialist, helping youth with disabilities transition into and navigate the adult world. Her platform is Universal Design for Inclusion because of her passion to create a barrier free world where people with and without disabilities can coexist with ease. She hopes to bring the concept of universal design across Texas to businesses, schools and communities to create environments of equal benefit to all members of society. (src)
She provides a great introduction to herself and her platform in this video. Please, if you have a chance, take a look!
I met Svetlana back in 2012 at an Information Architecture conference in New Orleans. I found her to be charming and funny and really enjoyed the little bit of time we were able to hang out. She is an author, a speaker, and a consultant as well as the founder of Audio Accessibility, a captioning and communication access consulting firm. She wrote a book on captioning as an art form, which you can find here. She also hosted her own TEDx talk on the same topic where she explains that being inclusive accessible is not only good for people, but it is is also good for business.
You can learn more about here here: about.me/svetlanakouznetsova
Ainslee is a fellow anthropologist who lives in Australia that I have known for about a decade. She uses her anthropology background to consult with businesses on accessibility.
In her own words “[h]aving a lived experience of disability gives me an insight into the issues faced by people with a disability. It also gives me an insight in to some of the problems faced by disability service providers and businesses outside of the sector, in providing appropriate services. As an Anthropologist, I have the tools available to provide disability service providers, and other businesses that wish to utilise my services, access to consumer insights that will not only help improve services but will strengthen relationships between businesses, both within and outside of the disability sector, and consumers.”
She is also a power lifter who jokes that she “skipped leg day 1 too many times”.
Thank you to all of you!
I feel honored and privileged that you all took the time to work with me on this. I learned a lot from all of you and really appreciate all that you do.