Michigan Meetings Fall Symposium: Imagining Accessibility

When approaching projects on accessibility, I first wanted to understand my community. Who I am designing for? What goals am I trying to achieve? With these questions in mind, I chose to focus my attention on diversity in technology. More people are using technology than ever before. How can we then use technology as a tool to, not only acknowledge, but improve the lives of the diverse groups of people within our communities? The Michigan Meetings Fall Symposium took a closer look into these questions. 

The 2019 Michigan Meetings is a year-long event that engages critical humanistic issues in the life of the digital age. The fall symposium focused on life within digital objects. Panelists included: Andre Brock, Georgia Tech; Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Hyphen-Labs; Lionel Robert, U-M School of Information; and Sophia Brueckner, U-M Art and Design. Each of their work inspected how we can create connections through the digital and how we can use technology to begin the conversation of diversity. 

Hyphen-Lab’s NSAF virtual reality project, for example, is an acknowledgement of the lack of black women in technology. It creates a VR experience where black women are pioneering technology. This empowerment of black women is a tool to give a glimpse of the culture issues that exist today and the amazing potential of women of color. It is, in other words, a piece that can start conversation. 

This was a very inspiring piece for me. How can we create a conversation with design? How can we call attention to issues that people may not see? Many able-bodied people simply do not understand the struggles that disabled people go through. How can we use this design thinking as a tool to, not only bring these struggles to the forefront of our communities? One of my favorite points from the workshop was to close your eyes and imagine your designed future; do you like what you see? How can we change that? Through my continuing studies, and inspiration from this workshop, I hope to search for ways that we, as a university community, can utilize technology to show the amazing potential of accessibility in the future – to create for the future that we hope to see. 

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