Inclusive online conference poster sessions

Screen view of Padlet app for inclusive online conference poster presentations.Looks like hybrid conferences are here to stay. That means conference organisers are finding new ways of working, and maximising digital capabilities. Conferences with a high academic content usually have poster sessions. Posters are a good way for emerging academics to present and discuss their work. But how to make online conference poster sessions inclusive?

Getting the best from digital presentations is based on both process and technology. Using the most suitable digital platform is part of the story. In their article on inclusive and virtual poster sessions, the authors discuss real time and on-demand presentations. Having both options allows for time zone differences especially for international conferences. 

The title of the paper is, A Guide to implementing Inclusive and Accessible Virtual Poster Sessions. There is a separate section in this paper on virtual poster sessions in the undergraduate classroom.

Suggestions for virtual poster sessions

      • Use combined real-time and on-demand options for sessions
      • Use short video or audio introductions
      • Utilise Zoom for breakout rooms for real-time sessions
      • Provide demonstrations on how to use the poster platform and how to view posters and access Zoom rooms
      • Give more time between notification and the presentation date to give more time to prepare and submit before the conference

The advantage of online posters is the amount and depth of feedback received by presenters. The disadvantage is the lack of opportunity to network.

People who feel uncomfortable in crowds or noisy environments will appreciate this mode of delivery. The cost of paper and print are avoided and the poster can be stored digitally.  Virtual sessions allow for captioning, and Auslan interpreters. The authors list several benefits of virtual poster sessions and provide guidance for conference organisers. 

From the abstract

Poster sessions are an integral part of conferences. They facilitate networking opportunities and provide a platform for researchers at every career stage to present and get feedback on their work.

In Spring 2020, we designed and implemented a no-cost and accessible, asynchronous, and synchronous virtual poster session. Here, we outline our goals for hosting an inclusive virtual poster session (VPS). We also demonstrate a “backward design” approach and our rationale for using the Padlet and Zoom platforms. At the 2021 Conference we shared lessons learned to help future poster session organisers to be accessible and inclusive. 

Virtual poster sessions have great potential to improve collaborations and science communication experiences at scientific conferences and in undergraduate classrooms.

Built environment, climate and mental health

A young woman and man are walking their dog in an urban park. Built environment and mental health.The Matilda Centre based at the University of Sydney is a collaboration of academics, practitioners and policy makers. The Centre recently ran a webinar on the built environment, climate and mental health. The speakers were Dr Susie Burke, Professor Susan Thompson and Dr Lyrian Daniel.

The YouTube video below runs for an hour. The three speakers give their perspectives on climate change and mental health and the role of planners.  

Susie Burke talks about the way in which climate change impacts mental health. There are direct impacts, such as the time of a flood or fire, and indirect causes – the flow-on effects. Also, there are vicarious effects – individuals not directly affected but concerned for the effects on others. 

Susan Thompson says planners appreciate the importance of the built environment in increasing health and wellbeing. Our health and wellbeing is dependent on how and where we live. And the health of our planet also ultimately underpins our health. 

Places that support physical activity are good for mental health across all ages. Getting active for getting from place to place in daily life also supports mental wellbeing. But physical activity and transport needs to be fun and easy to do. And of course, green open space is important for both humans and the planet. 

Lyrian Daniel talks about climate change, housing and mental health outcomes and patterns of disadvantage. Poor housing conditions, climate risk and mental health are closely linked. Affordability, especially for rental housing, adds to the mental health burden. Her key point is that housing has a clear role in mental health and wellbeing. 

Logo of the University of Sydney Matilda Centre. In the short question session at the end, Susan Thompson says we have all the tools and guidelines but no political leadership. So we all need to be advocating. 

 

Books for everyone with universal design

Girl sits with a book flicking pages and looking a little unhappy. Reading is a skill that some people find difficult or onerous, so they miss out on reading for pleasure. But making books more accessible is more than just applying Easy Language. It also requires thoughtful layout, font and use of images. The Books for Everyone Framework describes the book making process from writing to publication. 

Matching readers to the “right book” is more than the issue of genre or reading interests. Readers have varying language skills, functional differences and are neurodiverse. So the question for the publication industry is, “How can they work for inclusion of all types of potential readers?”

An article from Norway describes a case study of how the Books for Everyone (BfE) framework was used for five fictional books. These books were written by different authors, illustrators and publishers. The article provides suggestions for the publishing industry to accommodate reader diversity in the future. 

A universal design perspective

At the beginning of 2000, books in Norway aimed at adults with dyslexia were often simplified versions of more complex books that were already published. Taking a universal design approach led to an awareness that books should still aim for high quality. 

Rather than just simplifying text, more attention was given to how Easy Language can create high level literature. Consequently, BfE started cooperating with highly qualified authors, graphic novel designers, illustrators, and publishing houses in making new books.

The target groups for Easy Language books was broadened from people with cognitive impairments to everyone who will benefit. The primary target group determined the main adaptation approach applied. At the same time, these adaptations would most likely benefit other readers. Consequently, the universal design aspect of Easy Language was incorporated into the BfE framework.

It is interesting to note that in the last 22 years, Norway has embraced universal design across the built and digital environments. Consequently, it is no surprise that they are now applying the concepts more broadly. 

The processes and framework are described in more detail in the article, The Development and Production of Literature Within an Easy Language and a Universal Design Perspective. The article is open access.

Abstract

Finding suitable books for pleasure reading is difficult for many people with reading challenges. Consequently, authors and publishing houses must consider user diversity when developing books.

Easy Language comprises an important component, which is closely related to other elements which together constitute accessible books, such as layout, fonts and use of images. Moreover, extensive user testing and involvement must ensure that the books meet the requirements of the readers.

This paper presents The Books for Everyone (BfE) Framework, which describes the process from initiation to publication and promotion of Easy Language books, using Norway as a case study. The BfE Framework is illustrated through examples from books and related to the reception and understanding of various user groups.

Building design: knowledge and attitude are key

Three men in hard hats stand on a building site looking at architectural design plans.As universal design followers know, building and construction standards do not ensure accessibility, let alone inclusion. Well-informed architectural design practitioners understand the benefits. So what is holding back the others? Lack of knowledge or attitude – or both? 

Matteo Zallio’s research in the UK throws some light on this issue. He found that poorly informed stakeholders think that:

      • ‘Inclusive design’ means architectural barriers or physical accessibility.
      • Very few know about cognitive and sensory inclusion and accessibility.
      • ‘Inclusion’ means referring mostly to the Disability Discrimination Act.
      • ‘Inclusive design’ is an extra cost.
      • ‘Inclusive design’ is just a regulatory obligation. 

The factors influencing these views were: cultural background, personal knowledge, geographical location and context, lack of understanding of terminology, and lack of focus and details in regulations. 

Well-informed stakeholders think that “inclusive design”

      • can be beneficial for clients and occupants;
      • guarantees and elevated baseline of access; and
      • is a gold standard for their business and an example for others as well. 

Factors influencing this group were: being exposed to contextual factors in their life, perception of the cost-benefit value, foreseeing a positive impact for the community, and awareness of contemporary social facts and events.

Inclusive Design Canvas

With feedback from stakeholders, Zallio mapped out these factors on an “inclusive design canvas”. It’s basically a matrix of six elements that can help designers think through the issues and solutions. The user journey, capabilities and needs are one dimension, and the other dimension consists of physical, sensory and cognitive aspects. The matrix is shown below and can be downloaded separately.

The three elements of the Inclusive Design Canvas for architectural design.

The elements of the matrix are discussed in detail in Zallio’s article, Inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in the built environment: A study of architectural design practice.

Zallio found there were far fewer well-informed stakeholders than poorly-informed stakeholders. The issue was more pronounced outside major cities. Potentially, in the UK, this can be due to heritage factors, but it is also cultural make-up of these regions.  Having to consider more groups within the broader context of equity has diluted the needs of people with disability. 

Zallio is currently working on a post-occupancy evaluation tool for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA). The aim is to learn from current practice to improve design practice in the future. 

 

Design toolkit for social inclusion

Inclusive Signs Toolkit front cover.
Front cover of the Toolkit.

Social inclusion is a complex topic mainly because it’s not something you can make and touch. It requires a new way of approaching design that avoids bias, stereotypes, and established methods. Emilio Rossi has developed a card-based toolkit to generate creative inclusive design concepts. It’s titled Inclusive Signs and is based on a visual card system. One set has a different picture or symbol, and the second set has text labels. The cards are used to stimulate creative thinking in brainstorming sessions.

A short video on the welcome page of the online version on the toolkit provides a great overview of the basic concepts. 

The first part of the handbook explains the background and how to use the the toolkit. The second part has 180 cards and a worksheet. The toolkit is useful for both design practitioners and educators. It would also be good in co-design processes. The goal is to stimulate deep reflections on social inclusion in all design processes.

Overview

Although disability is one of the topics, design for social inclusion goes further. It tackles issues of social wellbeing, rights, human values, and inequalities.  Designers often struggle to create inclusive products and services beyond access codes. Rossi says moving beyond access codes is crucial for enabling solutions.

The key is gaining insights in the design conception stage. “Otherwise designers will continue to use biased concepts in their creative practice. That is, designing what is known, rather than what may work.”

You can download the 120 MB PDF document.  The 60 descriptive cards have current keywords relating to social inclusion. The aim of the 120 visual cards is to stimulate reflection, emotion, and lateral thinking. The images provide both negative and positive representations. 

Designers should find the content of the toolkit interesting even if they don’t use it in practice or teaching. 

The online version of the Toolkit is also available in several languages. Below are three examples of the text cards.

Card reading shared visions and ideas.

Card reading yes, with, together, visible, for all.

This card reads, participation.

Essential elements of co-design

Ayoung man with a black beard and hair is talking to someone across a table with coloured paper and pens. We need elements of co-design.Co-design in an academic context is part of participatory action research, or PAR. It’s used to understand, inform and change the design of policies, programs and services. But what are the essential elements of co-design? As we know, community engagement or consultation is not the same as co-design. Including diverse stakeholder and user perspectives is essential for developing best practice.

Gabrielle Brand and her team have identified five core co-design principles in the field of health education. Briefly they are: inclusive, respectful, participative, iterative and outcomes focused. These principles apply in other fields too. 

Core co-design principles 

Inclusive: Key industry stakeholders and consumers are involved from the initial proposal design. That includes the development and framing of learning focus to final educational outcome and delivery.

Respectful: Health care consumers are considered “experts by experience”. All input is equally valued in design, development and delivery of education.

Participative: The research process is open, responsive and empathetic in co-creating education. It generates new understandings of health and healthcare experiences.

Iterative: A cyclic, collaborative process that takes time. It embraces movement towards a shared education vision. It includes the risk of failure.

Outcomes focused: The focus is on achieving a shared educational outcome co-created during the co-design process.

Brand and her team used conversational interviews transcribed verbatim for analysis. The data were analysed in an organic iterative approach to develop shared understandings. Artefacts were also used in the process for eliciting sensory triggers for participants and for developing vignettes. 

The article details part of a vignette to explain how it was used with learners. It’s based on a mother of an adult son with a psycho-social condition. Members of the research team benefited from knowing they had valuable and legitimate expertise on a research project. 

Title of the article is, A research approach for co-designing education with healthcare consumers. It has a mental health education focus, but the methods are applicable in other fields. 

One of the issues with co-design and PAR is passing ethics approval processes. When an ethics committee labels particular groups as ‘vulnerable’ they apply different approval criteria. However, including the voices of a broad range of people involves the participation of vulnerable groups. 

The end result of this kind of research is to “transform hierarchical health care relationships towards a more humanistic model of care”. The same could be said for architecture and other design field. 

Abstract

Context: Community and consumer involvement in health professions education (HPE) is of growing interest among researchers and educators, particularly in preparing health care graduates to effectively learn from, and collaborate with, people with lived experience of health issues. However, to date there has been limited direction on methodological approaches to engage health care consumers in the research and co-design of HPE.

Approach: In this paper, we describe the background to our work with health care consumers including the five core principles for successful co-design (inclusive; respectful; participative; iterative; outcomes focused) and how to apply them as a research approach in HPE.

We introduce the use of arts and humanities-based teaching methodologies including engagement, meaning-making and translational education strategies to illustrate how this research approach has been applied to reframe mental health education and practice in Australia. Furthermore, we share some reflective insights on the opportunities and challenges inherent in using a co-design research approach in HPE.

Conclusions: For the consumer voice to be embedded across HPE, there needs to be a collective commitment to curriculum redesign. This paper advances our understandings of the educational research potential of working with health care consumers to co-design rich and authentic learning experiences in HPE.

Co-design research approaches that partner with and legitimise health care consumers as experts by experience may better align education and health professional practice with consumers’ actual needs, an important first step in transforming hierarchical health care relationships towards more humanistic models of care.

Assoc Prof Gabrielle Brand is based at Monash University Peninsula Campus.

Book review: Stories about the neurodiversity movement

Front cover of the book, Autisitic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement.The Commons Social Change website features a new book which is a collection of stories about the neurodiversity movement. The collection gathers the voices of both activists and academics. The introduction explains the approach to commissioning the chapters. 

Book title: Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline.

Introduction

The first book to bring together a collection of neurodiverse contributors to talk about events that shaped the movement, and which they themselves were involved with. Focuses on activists’ direct experience effecting change for people who identify as autistic rather than abstract accounts that reflect on autism’s social construction or essence.

Provides a one-stop shop for readers interested in the history and ideas of the neurodiversity movement and how these ideas have shaped production of expert and especially lay knowledge about autism. Gathers a collective of autistic activist/academic voices and engages in current theoretical debates around knowledge production and epistemic authority within (critical) research on autism.

This book is an open-access publication and licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

Abstract

This edited collection offers a historical overview of the autistic community and neurodiversity movement through first-hand accounts. While the awareness and impact of the movement have grown, apparent misunderstandings persist. Therefore, the editor introduces the neurodiversity movement, documenting concepts via the scientific literature, community activists and advocates, and the contributors themselves.

This covers the terms neurodiversity and neurodiversity movement, the breadth of the movement, the rhetorical basis of its advocacy in neurological differences, its overlap with and divergence from the medical model, and its emphasis on self-advocacy. Then the introduction explains the approach to commissioning and editing contributing chapters, the historical background to the subject matter, and how the chapters fit into themes of gaining community, getting heard, and possibly entering the autism establishment.

Contents

Introduction, Steven K. Kapp

Gaining Community

Historicizing Jim Sinclair’s “Don’t Mourn for Us”: A Cultural and Intellectual History of Neurodiversity’s First Manifesto, Sarah Pripas-Kapit

From Exclusion to Acceptance: Independent Living on the Autistic Spectrum, Martijn Dekker

Autistic People Against Neuroleptic Abuse, Dinah Murray

Autistics.Org and Finding Our Voices as an Activist Movement, Laura A. Tisoncik

Losing, Mel Baggs

Getting Heard

Neurodiversity.Com: A Decade of Advocacy. Kathleen Seidel

Autscape, Karen Leneh Buckle

The Autistic Genocide Clock, Meg Evans

Shifting the System: AASPIRE and the Loom of Science and Activism, Dora M. Raymaker

Out of Searching Comes New Vibrance, Sharon daVanport

Two Winding Parent Paths to Neurodiversity Advocacy, Carol Greenburg, Shannon Des Roches Rosa

Lobbying Autism’s Diagnostic Revision in the DSM-5, Steven K. Kapp, Ari Ne’eman

Torture in the Name of Treatment: The Mission to Stop the Shocks in the Age of Deinstitutionalization, Shain M. Neumeier, Lydia X. Z. Brown

Autonomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies, Larry Arnold

My Time with Autism Speaks, John Elder Robison

Covering the Politics of Neurodiversity: And Myself, Eric M. Garcia

“A Dream Deferred” No Longer: Backstory of the First Autism and Race Anthology, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

Entering the Establishment?

Changing Paradigms: The Emergence of the Autism/Neurodiversity Manifesto, Monique Craine

From Protest to Taskforce, Dinah Murray

Critiques of the Neurodiversity Movement, Ginny Russell

Conclusion, Steven K. Kapp

Download Full Book
Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline

The above text is reproduced from The Commons Social Change website. The book is also available on the SpringerLink website. 

AI for captioning

A speaker stands at a lectern and captioning sceen is behind his right shoulder
Dedicated captioning screen close to the speaker.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can take captioning to another level claims Microsoft. AI for automatic speech recognition removes the need for a human captioner for lectures in universities and elsewhere. The Microsoft AI blog article and video below focuses on deaf students, but more people are taking to captioning on their phones for convenience.

Captioning helps all students by adding another layer of communication and this point is made in the article. The captioning is turned into transcripts and students have a reference to read after the lecture. They can also have the lecture automatically translated into several languages.

This is a detailed article and covers automatic speech recognition, translations, and a growing demand for accessibility. This technology is not expected to take over from Auslan or ASL as they are languages in their own right. However, this is another example of how technology is helping humans by taking over from humans and bringing the advantages to more people.  

Note on the image at the top: The image shows Dr Ger Craddock at the inaugural Australian Universal Design Conference in 2014. A captioner sat in the room to caption real time. Speaker names and place names were given to the captioner beforehand to prevent errors.

 

Getting a mind-shift with design students

four photos of students experiences barriers in the built environment.
Figure 2 from the study

Societal stereotypes and assumptions about people with different levels of capability are difficult to shift. It takes more than a disability awareness exercise which is easily forgotten when students graduate. Students need to be immersed in the issues. So how can you get a mind-shift with design students?

A paper from Europe presents a case study of a practical teaching method where students identified real barriers to access by observing people with disability encountering barriers. From this, the students also created design solutions. The learning took place over three weeks which allowed students to be fully immersed in the issues.

The learning activities were conducted as an outdoor simulation in collaboration with a higher-education institution, a clinical centre, and people with disability.

This was much more than a disability awareness exercise that is easily forgotten when students enter the real world of architecture and design. The process was about getting a mind-shift to understand and to create with an inclusive approach. 

The title of the paper is, Experiential learning approach to barrier-free design in architectural education. It proposes a method involving different stakeholders, simulation, mapping and creative design. It has some nice images to illustrate points and student designs. The paper comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina which has recently commenced their accessibility journey.  

From the abstract

The paper presents a case study from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on experiential learning approach to accessibility, inclusion and universal design in architectural education in line with the global communities’ efforts in raising awareness and fostering education on the needs of persons with disabilities. 
The study is particularly relevant due to the fact that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and consequent safety measures amplified marginalization of people with disabilities. Bosnia and Herzegovina over the years failed to deliver on many basic principles signed in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Although scientific stance in literature review is divided on the subject of disability simulation activities as education method, this paper argues in favor of experiential learning, provided that the activities are carefully conceptualized over an adequate time period and involve different stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.

 

The developing definition of universal design

A large board table and chairs in a modern looking room. The changing definition of universal design.How much do interior designers understand about universal design? In the context of designer education, this is an important question. So what do interior design educators understand universal design to be? A study from the State University of New York found there was a good general understanding. However, compliance to access standards was also thought to be universal design.

Researcher, Eric Dolph, provides an historical context to show how the definition of universal design has evolved from designer responsibility to a values-based and human centred approach to design. That is, from the design of things, to a design process. 

In his study, Dolph gave four definitions of universal design to interior design educators. The aim was to see which ones were understood as universal design. The definitions were: 

1.  Inclusive design is socially focused and grounded in democratic values of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, and personal empowerment. (Tauke 2008)

2.  The design of interior and exterior environments to meet prescribed requirements for people with disabilities. (United States Department of Justice, 2010)

3. The design of products, information, environments, and systems to be usable to the greatest extend possible by people of all ages and abilities. (Mace et al., 1991)

4. A design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, heath and wellness, and social participation. (Steinfeld & Maisel, 2012)

Definition 2 was a foil as it is a statement about minimum access rather than universal design. It generated a mixed response with educators recognising the definition as universal design. 

Definition 3 was the most recognised. Given this is the most quoted definition in the literature and in guidelines, the result is not surprising. 

The is article titled, The developing definition of universal design, and it has more detail on the survey responses. Dolph also provides context for the evolution of universal design.

From the Abstract

A review of scholarly work indicates a shift in the definition of universal design. Originally, the focus was placed on physical access to the built environment. This has developed to a more contemporary vision that addresses issues of social justice. This has significant implications for those teaching universal design.

In 2018, educators teaching in interior design programs were surveyed about the infusion of universal design content within their curricula.

Responses revealed a generally high level of understanding regarding the definition of universal design. This article presents the survey results of interior design educators’ perceptions of the four definitions.