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Inclusive Design

October 1, 2009

KMDI at 13, Knowledge Media Design Institute Lecture Series in “Digital Media Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto”, Part III.

Note: Refreshments will be served at 3:30pm.  Please join us in generating interesting discussion and networking with fellow researchers, students, and professionals in the field of digital media!


“Designing for Diversity” by Professor Jutta Treviranus, Adaptive Technology Research Centre, iSchool

Abstract: The qualities of digital tools, content and environments have made it possible to radically rethink and reform notions of disability and accessibility in a digitally mediated world. This has led to more sustainable, integrated and personally optimized design strategies. This shift in accessible or inclusive design has significant ramifications not only for accessibility legislation, guidelines and policy but the design and development of information systems, practices and processes in general. There are compelling reasons to make this corresponding shift that go well beyond a wish to “accommodate people with disabilities.”

Brief Bio: Jutta Treviranus directs and established the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, an international centre of expertise in the inclusive design of information and communication technology. She leads numerous national and international research networks including Fluid, CulturAll, Stretch, Decapod and the Inclusive Design Institute. She has helped to develop specifications, standards and legislation in many jurisdictions.

“Inclusive Software Design: Rethinking the ‘InterfaceҔ by Professor Steve Hockema, iSchool

Abstract: Academic and popular understandings of Information are typically interrelated with a concept of “Content” (as distinct from presentation, media and even structure). This talk will begin by critiquing this framing and exploring the ramifications this has had on Web design and development, relating this to similar distinctions between interface and “core” processing common to software design/development that are revealed in common architectural patterns, such as Model-View-Controller, and divisions of labor. The main thesis will be that this “Information-based model”, based on dualist metaphors (e.g., of container and containment, content provider and designer or CMS), has been overextended. It will be argued that these metaphors have led to evaluative norms, such as accessibility and usability, that must now be modified and/or extended to include so-called social media—for example with respect to issues of credibility and authority—and broader conceptions of inclusive design. This will be explored through consideration of two popular online communities. The talk will conclude with suggestions for moving forward drawn from both academic work on participatory culture as well an active, large-scale software project that is attempting to manifest true inclusive design, and present the open research questions that I am currently investigating along these lines.

Brief Bio: Stephen Hockema is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Information and the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto. He earned a BS and MS in Computer and Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and holds a joint Ph.D. in Computer and Cognitive Science from Indiana University. He also has over ten years experience working as a software engineer. His current research focus is on social media and digitally-mediated communities, and how design- and interface-related aspects of technology are related to issues of authority (including epistemic, cognitive, institutional and political authority), credibility and participation. More generally, he is concerned with the inclusive design of social and “information” interactions, material-digital interfaces and mediation, with a broad interest in how technology can be used to help bridge cultural and linguistic differences, while respecting and valuing diversity.

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