Founder Story | Accessercise

We’re thrilled to launch the second season of our Remarkable Accelerator Founder Stories Series.

This series was brought to life with the help of Clothesline Content and showcases our 2022 startup founders and the story behind their startups. 

We’re excited to share the first episode featuring Accessercise, which is the first complete fitness app created specifically for the disability community. Check out their story below! 


[00:08 – 00:38] Ali Jawad

Winning silver at the Paralympic Games was the dream come true. Ever since I was six years old, I’ve always had aspirations to medal at the Paralympic Games. So fast forward 20 years of sacrifice, grit, determination, and I finally achieved my dreams.

My name’s Ali Jawad, a Paralympic silver medalist from Rio and the co-founder of Accessercise app. Our vision is to make sure that we change the way accessibility is for disabled community when it comes to fitness.

[00:38 – 00:48] Yulia Kyrpa

The app is designed to empower, educate and remove barriers for the disabled community to exercise and stay active.

[00:48 – 01:47] Ali Jawad

In fact, it could be the first ever complete fitness app that is truly catered to the disabled community. Now it aims to do this through three key features. One, our unique library of exercises. Two, our social hub where users get to like, share and comment on other uses progress and three, the explore section where users can rate the accessibility of gyms and sporting facilities in the local area.

Growing up in a gym environment was quite tough because I found that I was the only disabled person in the gym, there were not many people like me.

Now, during COVID, I started searching for fitness apps that catered towards my disability. There are over 70,000 health and fitness apps on the market but none catered for disabled people like me. And I realised that with over one billion disabled people globally that haven’t got access to exercise like everyone else, and I thought that really had to change.

[01:45 – 02:05] Yulia Kyrpa

Since launching the app, we now have an MVP version available in the UK market with over three thousand downloads. We also have better than the industry standard user economics achieved in over three months and the app was selected to represent the UK sports and technology at Paris Global Sports Week.

[02:06 – 02:23] Ali Jawad

Being part of the remarkable community has been incredible for us. Not only are we with people that like minded, but people that really put inclusion and accessibility at the heart of everything that we do. And for that means that we can transform the world in terms of accessibility, and we are here to do that.

Download a word version of the transcript here. 

Founder Story | RecoveryVR

Introducing our second episode of the 2022 Founder Stories Series, featuring Christian Doran Founder and CEO of RecoveryVR!

RecoveryVR provides a fun and engaging, medication-free, virtual reality application that motivates more adherence to rehab activities in the home or clinic while also providing measurement data, adherence tracking and unlimited healthcare access using a custom-built telehealth portal. Check out the RecoveryVR story below! 


[00:00 – 00:09] VR Instructor

And you’re going to pull it towards your ear, holding it there for 30 seconds. We’re going to do three lots of 30 seconds on each side. One, two, three.

[00:09 – 01:52] Christian Doran

I’ve always been obsessed with narrative. That’s why I was a filmmaker. I wanted to tell stories. What I’m doing now is just that, I’m helping people tell their own stories.

RecoveryVR helps people rehabilitate from all sorts of different conditions.If that’s physical, mental health, pain management, we try to use virtual reality to deliver health care everywhere in the world.

When you put on a VR headset, you kind of have an out of body experience.So we use that,
and that’s really, really powerful. I think that’s the secret sauce of virtual reality in therapy.

People with massive pain in their lower back will start swivelling their body without even knowing it, without feeling the pain. That’s what I’ve seen. I’ve seen patients standing for longer than they have in years because they just want to finish their painting

The research coming out of universities everywhere around the world was that VR is key to unlocking the focus that your brain needs by controlling the auditory and visual inputs into your brain.

It was a way to motivate movement and help people recover from neurological injuries. And that’s the moment that I knew that I had to create something that was actually in the market. There was so much research out there, and there was nothing for people to use day to day.

When I think about what RecoveryVR can be. It is a open world of therapy games where you can learn your independence, virtually practicing in a safe space that absolutely teaches you the skills to work better in the real world.

Download a word version of the full transcript here. 

Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Today we are celebrating the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! 

The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and how this impacts on more than 2.5 billion people living with disabilities worldwide. 

Just as powerful as this annual celebration is the overarching work of the GAAD Foundation who are on a mission to modify the culture of technological and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement.

So let’s start by talking about some facts…


From the obvious human rights factors to the economic benefits these facts highlight some of the reasons why technological and digital accessibility simply must be considered and not continue to be overlooked.  

Now let’s talk about accountability…

While technological innovations continue to evolve, so does the world of accessibility, which is why our team at Remarkable will be the first to admit that we may not always get things right. As a team, we believe that accessibility is not a one-size-fits all concept, but rather an evolving concept where we learn from our mistakes along the way, while continuing to strive for excellence in accessibility. 

We invite you all to join us on this journey that continues well beyond today. This is an invitation to work toward a future described beautifully by Fernando H. F. Botelho, where “Assistive technology will then no longer be a lesser technology, but one more essential layer on the infrastructure of modern society.”

Announcing a new charity partnership with TPG Telecom Foundation!

We are so excited to announce that we have been named one of the successful applicants of TPG Telecom Foundation’s annual charity grants program!

TPG Telecom Foundation has announced the seven non-profits to be awarded more than $1 million, focused on opportunities to improve the health, wellbeing and education of Australian communities in need.

Funding projects using innovative and scalable technology solutions, this year’s Foundation partner charities are ACON, Infoxchange, headspace, MissingSchool, Guide Dogs Australia, Remarkable which is made possible by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and Starlight Children’s Foundation.

“We are thrilled to be partner with TPG Telecom Foundation alongside some of Australia’s most impactful and prestigious charities. This grant will enable Remarkable to support more startups at the leading edge of tech innovation, ultimately leading to more inclusive and independent lives for people with disabilities,” said Remarkable Founder, Pete Horsley.

“We are proud to be supporting the ingenuity and innovation of our 2022 Foundation partners, as they continue to positively impact the lives of Australian communities,” said TPG Telecom Foundation Chair and TPG Telecom Group Executive People Experience, Vanessa Hicks.

Celebrating 20 years in Australia, the Foundation (formerly known as Vodafone Foundation Australia) has donated more than $26 million to date to charitable causes and organisations using mobile technology to improve the health of all Australians.

“Whether combating mental health issues and domestic and family violence, supporting critically ill children and people living with disability, or enabling important medical research and innovations, these unique projects will make a genuine positive difference,” said Hicks.

Remarkable is Australia’s leading disability technology accelerator, supporting startups with a mission to improve the wellbeing, independence and inclusion of people with disabilities. Since being established by CPA in 2016, we have supported nearly 50 startups, which have raised in excess of $35 million to power up the potential of people with disabilities around the world.

Click here to read the original version of this media release on TPG Telecom’s website.

Introducing our 2022 cohort of startups!

From wearable rehabilitation robots to Australia’s first audio tourism platform, we’re thrilled to announce the 8 innovative startups in our #RA22 accelerator program!

This announcement is also particularly exciting because it marks the launch of our partnership with Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) who we are working with to pilot the first Remarkable US program!

“In only a matter of years we have gone from an in-person, Australia-based program, to a global online program, and now we are launching bespoke international programs to further meet market needs! The launch of Remarkable US marks an exciting chapter that will allow us to rapidly grow our impact,” said Pete Horsley, Founder of Remarkable.

This year, Remarkable’s eight startups will be joining from several countries including Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. The demand for their global presence is also representative of the increased popularity of the Global Disabled and Elderly Assistive Technology Market, which is predicted to be worth $32 billion by 2026.

Now without further ado, we are proud to present the #RA22 cohort!

  • Homeable – creates personalised and inclusive smart home solutions to increase independence in the home.
  • Nuroflux – the world’s first wearable to non-invasively monitor brain activity and blood flow alongside other vital activity relevant to stroke and stroke rehabilitation.
  • WearWorks – is a haptics design company that designs products and experiences that deliver information through touch.
  • RecoveryVR – provides a fun and engaging, medication-free, virtual reality application that motivates more adherence to rehab activities in the home or clinic while also providing measurement data, adherence tracking and unlimited healthcare access using a custom-built telehealth portal.
  • Participant Assistive Products – is democratizing high-quality assistive products and putting them within reach of unserved people, starting with the 70 million people who need but do not have a wheelchair or the mobility, health, inclusion, and dignity that an appropriate wheelchair can provide.
  • Vacayit – Australia’s first audio tourism platform, using storytelling to revolutionise travel for blind and low vision tourists.
  • Biomotum – design smart wearable robots to empower mobility and discovery in children with Cerebral Palsy.
  • Accessercise – the first complete fitness app created specifically for people with impairments.


Over the course of our 16-week our startups will be receiving $75,000 of seed funding and will participate in masterclasses, sprints, and deep dives. It all culminates in pitches to more than 500 international investors, partners, and industry connections at Demo Day on the 20th of July 2022. 

Each startup will be working with 1 of 8 expert coaches, who will help guide them on their Remarkable journey. Our wonderful coaches this year include Kate Jenkins, Alan Jones, Ben Reid, Poppy Rouse, Warren Bingham, Molly Levitt, Sam Lazarus and Laura Anderson!

The program will also be supported by an incredible community of mentors, as well as, Open Inclusion who we’re working to provide user-testing experiences with people with disabilities to identify practical, inclusive and accessible innovations.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the incredible support we receive from our partners icare NSW, Telstra Foundation and VivCourt, as well as, the newly introduced Remarkable US partners CPARF and SmartJob.

Meet Molly, Co-Director of Remarkable USA!

We’ve teamed up with Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) to run our first United States-based Remarkable Pilot Program in 2022 and to bring this to life we are excited to introduce Molly Levitt, Co-Director of Remarkable USA! Molly joins us all the way from Boston and we asked her a few questions to learn more about her experience as a founder, marketing executive, teacher, and disability advocate. Check out our chat with Molly below… 

Could you tell us a bit about you and your background experience?

One of my earliest formative experiences centered around disability. When I was six, my mom was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease with no cure. Over the next three years, I watched her body deteriorate and learned quickly how challenging navigating an ableist world can be. In the years after her death, I met a teacher who would help me turn that loss into a passion when she brought me to Camp Jabberwocky at the age of 12, an overnight camp originally named Martha’s Vineyard Cerebal Palsey camp that brought children and adults with a range of disabilities together each summer. This place became my happy place, and I have returned to volunteer there every summer for the last 23 years.

As a teen, I knew I wanted to support this community in some way, but the only clear way I understood how to do this was to become a teacher and focus on supporting kids with disabilities in that way. I studied education at Boston College and did my Master’s at Harvard. From there, I became a teacher. While teaching, I was overcome by how challenging it was to keep track of all the individual learning needs each student was dealing with daily. I built some technology to support the collection of this qualitative data in my classroom. At the time, I didn’t even know the term startup existed, I just knew that I needed a better way to support my students. People got wind of the tech, and suddenly I had teachers using it all over the world. I left my teaching job after my third year, and went on to build BrightLoop, a startup that was built around this technology.

As BrightLoop grew, we were invited to take part in a number of accelerators and incubators including Y Combinator, MassChallenge, and 4.0 Schools. Over the four years that I served as CEO, we reached tens of thousands of educators in countries all over the world. Eventually, I moved on, and continue to work as the Head of Marketing for various companies in Silicon Valley, helping them to scale their business from the startup stage to millions of dollars in revenue yearly.

What excites you about launching Remarkable in the United States?

The US has incredible disability advocates and groups that are working to make a difference. Unfortunately, though, the perspective on disability funding is looked at more as charity. Even many of the VC’s in the US that focus on underrepresented groups do not include disability. This is wild to me. One in four people in the US are disabled. Due to systematic racism, people of color are more likely to be disabled. The more business we can mobilize around this space thoughtfully, the more we can move from thinking of disability as a charity and more towards inclusion as a good business practice. That is why I am excited for Remarkable to join the organizations that are already paving the way here in the US around proving out the business of inclusion.

What attracted you to work with Remarkable?

After spending all that time in tech, I knew that I wanted to do something different, and I knew that I needed to surround myself with people who were working to dismantle ableism and create solutions that enhanced people’s lives. When I learned about Remarkable, I knew this was the opportunity I had been searching for to bring together my own experience scaling startups with my passion for supporting those with disabilities. The team just gets it. They are committed to making the world more inclusive but are also aware of how much we all have to learn.

What part of the program are you most looking forward to?

I absolutely love working with startup founders. As a former founder myself, I’ve been in their shoes. I understand the complicated nature of needing customers, but not having enough money to market, of needing to raise funds in order to build, but VCs need more proof before they invest. Running an early-stage company is learning how to work with constant tension and I am excited to help the founders navigate that.

We’d love to get to know you a bit more, what do you like to do in your free time? It might be that you’ve got a special skill or interest to share with us?

Right now in my free time, I am building out a campervan. I bought an old wheelchair van and taught myself how to use tools via Youtube. Over the last 8 months I’ve built her out into a livable space. We are hoping to take our first adventure in her starting in May.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

In late 2020, I had to leave my full-time role due to complete burnout. It was during that time, that I came to identify as neurodivergent, while having worked with people with disabilities for so many years, it was a path I had sadly not been open to exploring myself.

Trying to work in a world that was set up for more neurotypical workers was exhausting. I realized that I needed different strategies and honestly more self-compassion in order to work in a fashion that allowed my mind and body to stay healthy.

That is when a friend reminded me, “You literally built a company around individualizing approaches for every student, why don’t you give yourself the same compassion?”

Variability is human. Here I was, passing for neurotypical when really I was struggling. Most of us have our own unique way and approach. Comparing yourself to the founder or worker you think you should appear to be is a dangerous game.

When running a startup, productivity can feel and look like progress and momentum. But it isn’t always. Progress and momentum for the sake of it doesn’t mean you are getting anywhere, it just means you are busy. Honoring your needs as a human beyond your startup is wildly important. Building a successful company takes years. Honoring what your body and mind need, is the only way to find long-term success. So don’t be afraid to take a break. Don’t be afraid to advocate for the things you need. Work different. Take the time you need to recover. And don’t forget, self-care should not be about helping you to be productive again. Self-care should be a reminder that you are more important than productivity.

Do you have an inspiring book / podcast / tv show you would like to share with the startups and the Remarkable community?

As far as podcasts go, I never miss an episode of Brene Brown, Unlocking Us. I also like to tune into the Accessible Stall each week.

Any tips for remote working now that we’re an online program?

Make sure to build in time between meetings to go for a walk and see some people in 3D, just to remind yourself what humans look like. 🙂


Feel free to reach out to connect with Molly on LinkedIn.

Looking back at a Remarkable Year

As we approach the end of 2021 we want to take this opportunity to reflect on everything we have achieved, but before we do it’s important that we thank the community of Remarkable supporters including our alumni, mentors, coaches, facilitators, friends and family! Also, on behalf of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, we send a special thanks to our principal partner icare NSW as well as, Telstra, Microsoft and Vivcourt.

We would not have been able to achieve everything that we did without this incredible community so from the bottom of our hearts we thank you all.

It gives us great pleasure to share our 2021 highlights reel showing some of the fun we have had and it’s also important to note that the following film accurately depicts the speed at which it all happened! 

You can also learn more about some of our achievements from the last 12 months in the list of highlights below:

1. #RA21 Cohort of startups FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE!


3. Welcoming 120+ participants to Design-athon




Thank you for a Remarkable year and we can’t wait to dive into 2022!

Inclusivity in the post-COVID Age

This event is part of the Remarkable Insights series.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on 3 December each year. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

This year’s IDPwD theme was ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’. To celebrate and honour this theme we hosted a Remarkable Insights conversation with a focus on Inclusivity in the post-COVID Age.

We welcomed Hannah Diviney, Co-Editor In Chief & Head of Creative at Missing Perspectives, as guest moderator for this event, as well as an amazing lineup of panelists!


The views expressed are solely those of the contributors.



Download a copy of the transcript

[00:04 – 04:50] Hannah Diviney, Co-Editor In Chief & Head of Creative at Missing Perspectives

Hi everyone I’m Hannah Diviney a writer and disability advocate with cerebral palsy it is my immense pleasure to welcome you to a Remarkable tech panel discussion. I’m also the co-founder editor-in-chief and creative lead and Missing Perspectives and to give you an idea of what I look like for anyone who’s wondering I’m a young white woman in my 20s who navigates the world in a wheelchair. So Remarkable is the venture arm of Cerebral Palsy Alliance with backing from principal partner Icare as well as Telstra, Vivcort and Microsoft Remarkable is where technology meets human potential and we see an incredible gap in progress and innovation in technology that breaks down barriers to the inclusion of people with disability. Remarkable runs a 16-week accelerated program that equips early-stage startups with seed funding, mentoring and support networks to commercialise their startups. Now I want to take a minute and acknowledge that I’m speaking to you today from the land of the Dharawal people of the Eora nation this is their land never ceided always sacred and I pay respect to the eldest past present and emerging of this place. I also acknowledge we have people joining us from many other places and I pay my respects to the traditional owners and elders of those places too. Please feel free to share what land you are watching or listening from today in the chat I would also like to acknowledge the advocates who have played a role in advancing the rights of people with disability leading society to address the inequalities faced by people with disability they have paved the way for us we carry a privilege and a responsibility because of that history. Today we’re celebrating the international day of people with disabilities which is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on the 3rd of December each year it aims to increase public awareness understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate our achievements and contributions. This year’s international day of people with disability theme is leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive accessible and sustainable post-covid19 world, you think they could have made that a bit catchier right? To celebrate and honour this theme today’s conversation will indeed focus on inclusivity in the post-Covid age. For anyone who wants to join the conversation on social media our handle on Twitter Facebook and LinkedIn is @ remarkable tech #remarkableinsights this event has live captioning by and our wonderful Auslan Interpreter is Therese Lewis. We will be recording this event and it will be made available post the event on remarkable tech’s youtube channel so be sure to subscribe if you want to share it with your friends family colleagues and community. It’s now my pleasure to introduce our three panelists to this morning’s conversation first thanks in my warmest welcome to Steven Ralph the co-founder and ambassador of Maslow for people from Sydney Australia then I would like to introduce Varun Chandak the founder and president of access to success who’s joining us from Toronto Canada and finally Julie Duong the director of empowering solutions and policy and program development officer at the City of Sydney so she’s obviously also joining us from Sydney Australia. Welcome to each of you thank you so much for joining us this morning  I’d like to invite each of our panelists to give a quick one to two sentence description of yourselves for the benefit of our audience if you don’t mind so Steve we might start with you.

[04:45 – 05:01] Steven Ralph, Co-Founder & Ambassador of Maslow for People

Alright thanks, Hannah good morning everybody, yeah my name is Steve I’m a young white male as well sitting in the living room I’ll also navigate the world using a wheelchair similar to yourself Hannah after suffering spinal cord injury.

[05:01 – 05:14] Varun Chandak, Founder & President Access to Success

Hi everyone this is Varun speaking I’m a young Indian male wearing glasses and I’m sitting in front of a virtual background that is blue in orange and says ATS Labs 2021.

[05:14 – 05:33] Julie Duong, Director of Empowering Solutions and Policy & Program Development Officer at City of Sydney

Hi everyone Julie Duong here a pleasure to be here this morning I’m a Chinese woman a wheelchair user and I am I’ve got long dark black hair and I am just passionate about disability inclusion and really for everyone.

[05:33 – 06:13] Hannah Diviney

okay with that done let’s get started with our panel so my first question is to you Steve and this is talking about the impact of Covid for anyone who doesn’t know and I hope this is okay it’s more of a personal curiosity, I guess you’ve come into the experience of life as a disabled person relatively recently so how has the pandemic impacted you I guess like learning the ropes yeah sure of what it means to live as a disabled person?

[06:13 – 08:01] Steven Ralph

Yeah thanks so much, Hannah I think yeah to answer that question I’d probably like to yeah just get a bit of context to yeah my disability for my intro so yeah having a spinal cord injury I suffered that injury about four years ago just going down to four years so for the first year and a half I was pretty much hospitalised and you know learning to come to terms with the situation and just how to manage the disability and slowly started to return into community activities and like you said just navigating the world and also returning to work and I was easing into that I suppose over the first couple of years that I acquired my disability and I’d say Covid struck around that time and you know the last couple of years we’ve just been in constant yeah I’m in and out of lockdowns and there’s been a lot of disruption to that so I think the main impact it’s had is so obviously the massive and like deep impact it’s had on people’s lives over the last couple of years has been undeniably horrible however I think the silver linings for myself with a disability have been that with for example my work and my employment I’ve been able to actually sort of increase the amount of capacity that I had to contribute so I think looking into that it’s actually enabled me to build on the foundations that I’d set in terms of adjusting to life with a disability in terms of returning into the workforce and participating in that respect so I think that’s a really good silver lining to take out of Covid-19 it’s a sort of yeah reference that theme  but to move forward that would be fantastic.

[08:01 – 08:32] Hannah Diviney

I think yeah definitely Varun obviously you bring a unique perspective because you’re joining us from another country today and I wanted to ask you there was a kind of landmark Covid-19 disability survey in Canada and that found that of those surveyed 85% sorry 82% reported that the pandemic was negatively impacting their mental health can you speak to this from your experience if it’s not too personal to share?

[08:32 – 10:03] Varun Chandak

No not at all I think it’s safe to say that everybody experienced some level of mental health  challenges whether you classify that as a disability or not that’s beside the point  but if it was difficult on everybody for me though my i’m hard of hearing so I rely on hearing it in my right ear and live captioning but most importantly lip reading so from my  perspective the biggest impact of the disability was the use of masks because when I cannot lip  read I cannot understand I may have 40% hearing loss in my ears but my verbal recognition is about  10% to 20% in both ears which means that when somebody’s wearing a mask and I can’t lipread  the impact of that on my life is absolutely immaterial I just cannot communicate anymore  so I think a lot of it stemmed from that as well and that even if you go to a grocery store and you have to talk to somebody you can’t really do that so tech did help and I do  want to acknowledge that all things considered I got away with it relatively instead it was it  was tough at times it was at other times it was just an inconvenience maybe i’m done playing  it a little bit there but you know I think from me that was the biggest part of the experience

[10:05 – 10:41] Hannah Diviney

Did you find that you were relying on other people to help you communicate? Or like I’m not really across how bad the pandemic was in Canada were you guys in serious lockdown for an extended period of time.

[10:41 – 11:50] Varun Chandak

Yes, it was pretty strict here as well definitely a lot stricter than our neighbors out of the south of the border yes from what I hear from friends in Australia probably not as long as strict as the one in Australia but it was still a very extended period of complete lockdown where we were required to just only leave only for the most necessary items there was a period when things were sort of rationed and grocery stores and everything so to your question about communication absolutely I have no idea what I would have done if not from my wife oh I am endowed up relying on her so much for day-to-day communications for conversations I did rely on tech as well as I use an app called which is a live captioning app it’s free and that was a game-changer for me in situations where I was by myself but it’s not perfect so whenever if I had the option my partner my wife she was I had no idea what I would have done without her to be honest.

[11:50 – 11:57] Hannah Diviney

yeah, so Julie obviously I’m curious for you as well what was your experience of Covid?

[11:57 – 13:55] Julie Duong

Yeah I have so many mixed feelings about what’s happened and it’s still happening so I’ll talk about that instead because you know post-Covid and it’s good to know what considerations there are for others moving forward. For myself i’m pretty anxious more than ever i’d have to say more than in 2020 when all of this happened and I think that stems so much from the expectation to return to normal for example state government NSW opening everything basically all at once and while that’s necessary I feel like there hasn’t been good consideration for how we retain some of that inclusion and elements of safety and I would say optimism for doing things differently than we actually had I think so many organisations are eager to get back into action in how things used to be without really understanding the impact that it’s had on individuals during Covid after Covid and so that expectation concerns me. An example is working from home you know all of a sudden everyone could do it and when that happened I was a little bit annoyed because suddenly it was okay everyone could do it they had the capability and resources for everyone who could work on a computer so now so before that it wasn’t a case of they couldn’t do it it was a case of they wouldn’t do it and it was just that it wasn’t acceptable as I would definitely yeah and now I think you know there’s that expectation that we’re going back to normal hard and fast and you know yeah sure they’re gonna let you work from home one to two days but there’s still that expectation that nine to five in the office again traveling one to two hours commuting spending money on transport which is actually quite expensive for some people with disability.

[13:55 – 14:45] Hannah Diviney

Of course yeah and I don’t think people have really realised the impact. As well that actually leads really well into our next question which is for Steve again so you mentioned earlier that you’ve done something a little different over the course of the pandemic to most people instead of decreasing your workload you’ve actually increased it shifting from part-time work to full-time work thanks to the accommodations that make your life easier like working from home remotely I’m just curious if you think the shift from part-time to full-time work has brought a shift about in the way people treat and react or respond to you personally and then more broadly like what shifts have you noticed if any in the attitudes towards people with disabilities over the course of the pandemic?

[14:45 – ] Steven Ralph

Yeah sure so exactly as you said Julie it’s sort of all of a sudden it’s normalised remote work and and like you’re saying it’s it’s brought about a massive change in terms of at least for me personally like I was able to increase that workload up to a full-time work week which is you know which was really what I was wanting to do and as I said earlier I was sort of building up to that just kind of working through all the logistics and things that had to come with part of living with spinal cord injury but yeah over time that was becoming more manageable and yeah it was kind of phasing into into looking at full-time work but yeah the remote work component has definitely helped shape I suppose my expectations for myself to be able to do that and hopefully as he’s saying Julie  like hopefully those benefits don’t disappear over the future you know like hopefully we can take these and show that look this has been proven this is how we can move forward and make it more inclusive like make the workplace and just the work the workforce in Australia more accessible because there hasn’t been much change in terms of like  disability participation in the workforce over the last 30 years or so so it’s really interesting to see that like all of a sudden it has opened those doors so I suppose from a perception point of view I think it shows that you know everybody deserves that level playing field to to work and to participate so I think if we can remember all the benefits that Covid has brought about  as well as forget the negatives that would be fantastic.

[16:28 – 16:44] Hannah Diviney

Varun I just wanted to find out a little bit more about how you feel like people with disabilities like what the attitude is in Canada and whether that’s changed over their pandemic whether you’ve seen any positive impact?

[16:44 – 18:32] Varun Chandak

Yes it’s very similar to what Julie and Steve said there’s positives and there’s negatives sometimes those positives are stemming from the fact that now everybody’s  going through the same thing to set a little bit of context I ran access to success and ATS Labs alongside a full-time professional job and that job in is in financial services sector  so in the time leading up to the pandemic I had been advocating to get access to any sort of a live captioning service which would make it easier for me to participate in conference calls that was a very long very very long discussion because you know i’m an investment I have access to a lot of sensitive information so there were concerns about where is this  transcription going so on and so forth and then the pandemic happens everybody is now working remotely all the conference calls now happen on Microsoft teams in my case and teams has a built-in live caption so suddenly nobody has any problem with live captions so it’s very similar to what Julie said that when it affects everybody’s sanity it’s very normalised you know and it’s a very small example but looking forward though the concern again just comes from the communication aspect because now we’re looking at a return to our office in January in my case  and now i’m trying to figure out what am I going to do if there’s a mass mandate in those in which case i’m trying to see if I can get an exception sort of an accessibility accommodation to  continue working from home almost full time for now so it’s going to be an interesting situation  about it’s what Steve said how does that what does that flexibility look like going forward.

[18:32 – 18:55] Hannah Diviney

Julie this all ties back to the founding well what led you to create the Empowering Solutions and the Diversity and Disability Alliance can you just quickly explain?

[18:55 – 20:37] Julie Duong

Empowering solutions that’s sort of my own little business where I consult with people on disability-related matters sort of my specialty is the culturally and linguistically diverse communities as well having that lived experience and working so closely with the community and I didn’t actually found Diversity and Disability Alliance but I do have the privilege of being its president. We are setting up peer support communities to get people with lived  experience from multicultural backgrounds to talk about their lived experience and value and respect that so people are really valuing what they have to contribute you know it’s expert knowledge why shouldn’t it be used and so going back to empowering solutions and it’s funny it’s all  sort of related to employment firstly you know as Steve mentioned people with disability are disproportionately unemployed you know and let’s not talk about how unemployment increases if you have a severe or profound disability type and I would be categorised at  that level because you know I don’t have use of my arms very much pretty much just a mouse and  I do need support every day of my life and I figured yeah that you know I was that figure  and statistics of unemployment so I had to do something for myself because you know really  nobody would give me the chance you know the person with a severe disability when they see  me a chance to work in an environment surrounded by people without disabilities or really people  without visible profound disabilities.

[20:37 – 21:27] Hannah Diviney

Yeah that whole idea of visibility is really quite loaded I think I should also mention to our wonderful audience that we do have the ability to have a q&a at the end of this panel so if you have any questions for our wonderful panelists please pop them in the q a box now I guess this is all the wonderful full circle discussion Varun the work you do with access to success is obviously all about the development of people with disabilities into leaders and that’s helped along by assistive tech so I’m curious what do you think the role of technology should be and what barriers do you?

[21:27 – 22:44] Varun Chandak

See it helping people with disabilities overcome as we move into this so-called post-Covid world  so again to set context access to success supports the development of future leaders  with disabilities and assistive technology we do that with two programs one is that  supports MBA students who identify as having disabilities through the access to success fellowship the other is ada slabs which is Canada’s first accelerator for accessibility mental health and agent tech startups so with that context I would say there’s two aspects in here one is the rule of tech and the other is the rule of everything else when it comes to tech and innovation I think it’s been proven over time that innovation is sort of a self feeding positive feedback loop where more innovation support for more innovation releases costs results and more access to the technology more visibilities more options so on and so forth now as long as in the case of disability all of this innovation is happening with people with  disabilities at the centre and in the lead I think all of that tech will make a real tangible impact  in how people with disabilities like myself for example in my ability to do my job as  I was talking about that example earlier of live captioning believe it or not it now sounds unusual  thought like captioning wasn’t very common just four years ago yeah because I was looking for it  in 2016 and 2017 and it was just starting out at the time so if the standard makeup had happened five years ago I would have to basically transition to sign language at that point  and while there’s obviously nothing wrong with that it would just be so much more difficult  for me to transition to that so quickly so can enable people like me to do our jobs better better  employment opportunities better productivity better quality of life in our own personal lives the other piece though is everything else I don’t and this is coming from somebody who runs  a program to support tech tech is not the end-all be-all there’s a lot.

[22:44 – 23:44] Hannah Diviney

don’t tell us that Varun geez

[23:44 – 24:20] Varun Chandak

yeah I know I mean this is remarkable and doesn’t accelerate but like I said it’s coming from me and I run a similar program and I can say with confidence that tech is not the end of the all it cannot be the end all be all unless it’s the people who are centred so ultimately I think the efforts for inclusion of people with disabilities for flexible work solutions for continued inclusion in the workplace after the pandemic I think those efforts will need to continue for all of the second innovation to be even more meaningful.

[24:20 – 25:13] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely you’re getting a lot of flack in the comments for those your feelings about tech there but I’m sure Pete and Kate will we’ll get over it okay now Julie the next question is for you for anyone who may not know you helped to support the city of Sydney inclusion panel that provides strategic expert and impartial advice to the city of Sydney it helps develop implement monitor and review the city’s policies strategies and plans to improve the inclusion of people with disability can you describe the importance of this type of panel throughout the covet experience and then obviously for Sydney we’re opening back up and heading into a post-Covid future?

[25:13 – 26:56] Julie Duong

I think it goes back to the concept of lived experience where those people  have gone through it they’re going through it they know what the community needs and wants and it’s valuable to organisations like the city of Sydney I think it should be seen as valuable  expert information and knowledge anywhere when and and you can really use it to improve service delivery products engagement and communication with people and even be like have an opportunity to be an ally and advocate so for example the panel obviously provides insight into  some of the impacts of Covid on the disability community as an ongoing basis and as just an example access to vaccinations that was an issue that was raised for people to go to places to get  vaccinated hospitals weren’t even accessible so you know the city of Sydney had a duty of care  and relationships to be able to advocate and see what’s happening in that space and organise you know additional different ways of doing things having this vital piece of information means that  you know we were able to put in other measures and that we don’t exclude anybody or really  impose additional challenges and right now I see in this post Covid  well that you know one we’ve got to keep the good things that we’ve achieved as discussed number two  make sure there’s no additional barriers that are being created and three having innovation and compassion to for things to be acceptable and accessible if we want that inclusive future

[26:56 – 27:42] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely now if you can believe it we are actually coming to the end of our panel we’re going to have a q a quick session in a minute but the final question I have written down here is for Steve most of your experience of disability has been throughout the course of the pandemic you’ve come to really come into your own in the disabled experience throughout the pandemic so I’m curious that you would have a very specific idea of what needs to be improved for people with disabilities in a post-Covid world can you just quickly speak to that and explain it?

[27:42 – 28:50]  Steven Ralph

For sure thanks I think mainly for me it’s just about awareness just education of of disabilities in general  particularly in the workplace like I think yeah organisations and things like Remarkable for example like it’s a breath of fresh air to be in that experience and in that environment with the disability like I think people don’t treat you any differently  and I think that’s the main thing that i’ve noticed and I think we’ve covered I mean appearing on screen for most of my work life for the last two years it takes a  lot of that out as well because unless you disclose that you’re in a wheelchair would know right so that’s been a very unique experience for me too i’ve never had that before ever yeah it’s really odd actually yeah it’s it’s weird hey so I found that to be yeah really really  jarring I think like compared to how I would have been treated had I been in the office versus  meeting a client or meeting a colleague for the first time over Zoom or teams or whatever it  is yeah so I think that’s that’d be great to just change that perception I think we’re making some progress but we still have a very long way to go.

[28:50 – 29:22] Hannah Diviney

So now I’m gonna kind of do a quick whip around q&a we have some pre-submitted questions here and if our audience has any more pop them in the q&a box my first question I think I’m going to pose to Varun and it says what needs to happen to make accessible technologies available to everyone who needs them and this is from Laura accessible technology available to everyone who needs it?

[29:22 – 32:15] Varun Chandak

That’s a very that’s a very very big question let me go down maybe two or three points here that that immediately pop up to the top of my head one as I was saying people with disabilities need to be centred in this entire process whether it’s the creation of new technology  or the scaling of new technology because we’re the people who understand our needs the best I think i’m preaching to the choir here that’s that’s so that point is pretty obvious  the second is the need the subscribers sound a little bit self-serving but I think  the second is the need for support ecosystems for the actual development and scaling of  accessibility technology in Canada just to share a little bit of context about why i’m talking about  the need for that support ecosystem the kind of work that Remarkable has been doing over the years  in canada when we started talking about the idea of ATS labs the accelerator people in  the accessibility space would tell me that you’re not going to find enough startups in this space  who are you going to serve so since that point we actually did the market research and we identified  well over 100 startups that are currently active in Canada and are already in the market  with products so that pipeline exists they just have a lot of unique needs a lot of  lack of visibility a lack of spotlight that we are trying to address here with what we are doing at ATS lab so that support ecosystem through ATS labs through Remarkable through the inclusive innovation network of which both us and Remarkable are two of the co-founders these support ecosystems need to exist and grow for the startups to continue going as well  the last piece is the actual distribution part when it comes to that distribution it will have to be addressed in a localised manner there’s no one-size-fits-all because for example a very obvious example the distribution models the reimbursement models is different by each country so there’s no one-size-fits-all response here but if you’re  talking i’m not as familiar with Australia but in Canada it would have to be a platform a model that understands the local nuances here and then you sort of combine that with the access to low-cost assistive technology the combination of that white distribution acts  white distribution as well as access to low cost technology is the third pillar and what I  believe would be key to sort of a much much wider availability of assistive technology.

[32:15 -32:34] Hannah Diviney

yeah definitely this next question is from Abraham I feel like it’s pretty self-explanatory but we’ll give it to you Julie and he says do you think enough has been done to include and accommodate people with disabilities?

[32:34 – 33:18] Julie Duong

Simply no. I think that really you know no matter how many accommodations you put in there I think it really needs to start with people changing their attitudes and how they see people with disability or disabilities people you know not as some special thing that they have to do otherwise I think without changing that attitude and the culture I think that you’re really you know the supports that you do put in place are just sort of at best compliance something nice that you have to do for the disabled person so yeah there’s a lot more work to be done sure.

[33:18 – 33:51] Hannah Diviney

okay we’re now going to move into the q&a box this question is from Kylie she says I work in DEI for a large corporate one challenge is that people are often reluctant to identify how do you suggest we build trust so that people are able to identify and get the support I’m going to lob that question  over to Steve because I think he has a pretty unique perspective on that just now

[33:51 – 34:47] Steven Ralph

Yeah thanks for that one I feel as though yeah working in a space like that where you’ve got the opportunity to change the culture and like the inclusivity of an organisation yeah just to maybe even to contract out to somewhere like the Australian network on disability to do like a workplace adjustment assessment or a program like that just to put in place I suppose it just removes a lot of the barriers for entry for into the workforce people with disabilities just so everything is as standard like it kind of changes superficial practices of an organisation that is easy to implement but they have a big impact for people with disabilities that will interact and then engage with that organisation in a whole new way so I think that’s one way to look at that I’d say.

[34:47 – 34:53] Hannah Diviney

Julie, you have something you’d like to say

[34:53 – 35:37] Julie Duong

Just really quickly I did a little bit of research on this in the past with a large organisation myself and there are you know key things that really support disclosure and it’s really having a supportive manager again with that attitude the right attitude it’s also about having visible leadership and trusted pathways and actually providing the supports so when you go through that pathway a lot of times people go through the process and they get rejected or things aren’t put in place and then people talk people will tell stories and say don’t tell them that you’re you know this they knocked me back don’t you’re just gonna cause yeah yeah trouble for yourself.

[35:37 – 35:44] Hannah Diviney

This is a very topical question obviously Varun it’s it looks like you have something to say?

[35:44 – 36:22] Varun Chandak

I agree with everything but Julie said I just wanted to emphasize the representation aspect I have personal stories that I can share there but another interest of time I won’t go into it but essentially having senior leadership step up having members of senior leadership or even middle management step up and say hey identifiers having a disability you can have webinars you can have podcasts whatever platform prefers and encouraging them to share these stories publicly if they are comfortable of course gives a level of comfort and safety almost to those a little bit lower down the ladder that they’re not going to get discriminated against if they self-disclose

[36:22 – 37:32] Hannah Diviney

definitely, I think we all know how powerful visibility is and leadership in that area is crucial now there are two more questions here in our q&a box but I’m very conscious that we literally have less than 10 minutes until we’re supposed to wrap this up  so what I might do is if our panelists want to open the q a box I don’t know if any of you want  to type out a quick reply to either of these or we can save them and maybe get your response in  an email after the panel if that works for the people who have asked those questions the last question for all of our panelists that I wanted to make sure I asked today is kind of a  typical question that Remarkable Tech always asks and that is can you give us kind of one example of a remarkable insight that you have about this topic of like a post-Covid world?

[37:35 – 38:24]  Julie Duong

I’ll go first yeah so if you haven’t noticed already I’m really big on lived experience so get people with lived experience working in your business and I don’t mean in disability-specific roles or disability-related jobs I mean in meaningful roles as decision-makers strategists advisors technical and operational leads in the world you know across the world disabilities their friends’ families have control over a 13 trillion dollar annual disposable income and that’s a lot of money and really you’re doing a disservice if you’re not involving us as assets investors and human capital because there’s really nothing about us without us.

[38:24 – 38:52] Hannah Diviney

13 trillion is such a huge number! I  cannot wrap my head around that but the fact that we are worth that much and that we have that much potential to bring to the industry I wish I could show that to everybody who has any sort of kind of investment portfolio or anything like that what about you Steve let’s what’s your Remarkable sight?

[38:52 – 39:32]  Steven Ralph

My Remarkable insight would be just again to change that perception and attitude in the workforce of people with disabilities that you know exactly like he said Julie they’re not discriminated against for any reason and that yeah people in key roles in organisations can welcome and yeah can just sort of embrace people with disabilities in any role just because of the fact that they might be the best person for that role  I think that’ll be the most remarkable insight and hopefully all that remote work and flexible working agreements all stay in place and everybody can keep yeah participating and engaging in the same way that they’ve been able to.

[39:32 – 39:49] Hannah Diviney

definitely, can I just ask you a quick follow-up  question which is, have you and this might be

personal but have you disclosed your disability to all of your colleagues?

[39:49 – 40:26]  Steven Ralph

I actually haven’t no. I mean I most would have met me in person but there are a few that haven’t and a lot of people that have started as well since the pandemic so a lot of people haven’t yeah so I actually haven’t and I mean I feel like it’s you know it’s not really relevant to the job it’s not really relevant to of course the conversations we’re having at work so yeah sort of gone over my way to my ways to self-disclose to colleagues but yeah in no way you know am I yeah sort of trying to not disclose anything oh yeah it’s just if it’s relevant it’ll be you know it’ll be talked about if it’s not then it’s not us first.

[40:26 – 40:33] Hannah Diviney

yep okay so Varun you are lucky last what is your Remarkable insight on a post-Covid world?

[40:34 – 41:37]

A Remarkable insight is a very high bar for from my perspective it’s about what I think steve does to find that just about maintaining that flexibility that everybody learned about  during the pandemic I think it’s a key tenet of increasing design which is a foundational bedrock for everything that we do access to success so if you don’t want to learn anything about the increase of design that’s fine just I would highly highly recommend people to not forget that  that flexibility benefits everyone for working parents for single mothers for single parents  any kind of flexibility that people can build in when they plan out they return to work within our office back to personal life in-person events  that flexibility is just so so important there’s just tons and tons of examples where that  flexibility will benefit people with disabilities as well as everyone else so that’s the one sort of take away if not inside that I would encourage everyone to keep in mind

[41:37- ] Hannah Diviney

thank you for that but the time has absolutely flown and we are actually at the end of our panel discussion for today so I just wanted to run through a few quick endnotes here and say a huge thank you to our wonderful Auslan interpreter Therese Lewis and of course a huge thank you to each of our incredible panelists Steven Ralph, Varun Chandak and Julie Duong. I’m also told that I need to tell you that Remarkable recently launched a fellowship program called the Jessica King Fellowship which is aimed at providing pathways for people with disabilities to explore the world of entrepreneurship and startups it involves six months of mentoring a five thousand dollar donation to your learning with we love financial support  and support to explore goals in this space applications are currently open right now  and we are excited to be extending our application deadline to 11:59 Sunday the 5th of December  that is this Sunday guys so if you want to get an application in I would do that as soon as you can  if you are interested or know someone who might be please head to the website and look for the Jessica King Fellowship on the front page now as we always do here at remarkable  tech we will be seeking your feedback so we can provide more remarkable insights so please after  this panel is over take the time to complete the survey and as was said at the beginning this recording will be made available on the Remarkable Tech youtube channel subscribe if you haven’t done so already because you don’t want to miss any of these recordings I’ve been your moderator Hannah Diviney I have CP I’m a writer and disability advocate and it has been my pleasure to host this discussion happy international day of people with disabilities. Okay bye.

Mentions made:

[8:01] COVID-19 Disability Survey, Abilities Centre

[24:20] Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel, City of Sydney

[33:51] Australian Network on Disability workplace adjustment 

[37:35] People with disability create over $13 trillion in disposable income every year

Design for User Empowerment: From Principles to Practice

This event is part of the Remarkable Insights series. 

“In the near future disability will be synonymous worldwide with innovation,” Regina Kline, Founder and CEO, SmartJob. 

Echoing Gina’s insights, we believe it’s critical for designers of technology to engage with people with disabilities to design the most innovative, accessible, and usable solutions. Better yet, empowering people with disabilities to design and build the technologies themselves! 

Design for user empowerment means that those with disabilities have control of technology designs intended for them to solve their own accessibility problems.

We were joined by a panel of experts to discuss how we can rethink the principles and processes of design, to identify the main opportunities when designing to spur on inclusive innovation.





The views expressed are solely those of the contributors.


Definitions of terms mentioned throughout the conversation:



Download a copy of the transcript

[00:04 – 03:58] Pete Horsley, Founder of Remarkable. 

Good evening, good morning, good day, wherever you are calling from my name is Pete Horsley I’m the founder of Remarkable. I’m a white male in my mid-40s and you’ll find me wearing a hat and my pronouns are he and him. Remarkable is the venture of Cerebral Palsy Alliance and we have the backing from our principal partner icare NSW as well as partners Telstra, VivCourt and Microsoft. Remarkable is where technology meets human potential and we see an incredible gap in the progress and innovation in technology that breaks down barriers to full inclusion of all human experience. We run a 16-week startup accelerator program in Australia that equips early-stage startups with seed fundings and mentoring and support networks to help commercialise their startups. I want to acknowledge that I am talking to you on Guringai land and this is aboriginal land. It was never ceded, it’s always sacred and I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. I also acknowledge that we have people joining us from many other places both in Australia and around the world and so I pay my respects to the traditional owners and elders of those lands as well. I’d also like to acknowledge the disability advocates who have played a massive role in advancing the rights of people with disability leading to addressing the inequalities faced by people with disability and they’ve paved the way for us and that gives us both a privilege but also a responsibility because of that history. So today’s conversation is about designing for user empowerment it’s part of remarkable insights and remarkable insights tries to see the significant opportunity that we’ve got to be able to leverage technological innovation and to drive an inclusive future but it asks the question who is being left behind as we as advance technologically and we also ask how do we create not just an inclusive future but how do we create an inclusive now? So today’s conversation is part of that so for anyone who wants to join the conversation on social media our social handles are on twitter facebook and LinkedIn is at #remarkabletech and if you could use the hashtag #remarkableinsights so this event has live captioning that is available down in the toolbar underneath the image and our Auslan interpreter is David. Welcome David it’s good to have you with us. We’ll be recording this event and this is available later on our youtube channel as well so be sure to subscribe now you don’t want to hear my voice for too much longer so I want to introduce our three incredible panelists tonight we have Léonie Watson from TetraLogical, Christine Hemphill from Open Inclusion and Chris Patnoe from Google welcome to each of you and each of you are actually in the UK and we happen to have Chris and Christine in the same location so welcome to you all it’s great to have you along. So this concept of design for user empowerment might be a familiar term to some people but perhaps it isn’t a well-known term to everyone so Léonie I want to ask you this question. Do you mind explaining a little bit about what designing for user empowerment is please?


[03:59 – 05:28]  Léonie Watson, Director, TetraLogical

Thanks Pete, so for me personally it has two distinct definitions but of course they merge I have a disability I’m blind so part of my answer about what it means is it’s when product services are designed that I can use them enjoy them get the job done do whatever it is I came to do and not have to fight every step of the way to get there flipping that around to you know professional and designer kind of point of view it’s really about making sure that when we do design products and services we’re including everybody in that target audience in the research that we do in the testing that we do in the creative thinking that we do the requirements that we put together you know that there is the phrase you know nothing without this and that really sums it up for me we have to include people with disabilities and other accessibility needs every step of the way through the design and development process because otherwise we’re just guessing and guessing doesn’t really get us very far if we’re creating a product that’s aimed at young people under the age of 16 you know then we need to include people from that target audience you know in every aspect of the design and development process and we have to remember that people with disabilities and accessibility needs are woven into that particular demographic as they are every demographic so we can’t separate any of this we can’t bolt it on it’s just got to be there from the beginning all the way through.


[05:29 – 06:00] Pete Horsley

That’s such a fantastic response and I guess we see some ubiquitous technologies that we use all day every day were first designed for people with disability but ended up being used beyond the disability community solutions like kind of personal texting captioned video optical character recognition or OCR allowing for text-to-speech so Christine I want to ask you this question why do you believe this kind of inclusive design holds so much hope for the future of design?


[06:00 – 09:10] Christine Hemphill, Founder and Managing Director, Open Inclusion 

I think it’s such a powerful way to look at the world when you look at the world  through different perspectives and as Léonie was just saying there are so many different perspectives and there are so many different perspectives even within disability so by going to those different perspectives you’ll understand you know back to that kind of what’s  the empowerment here well it’s actually flipping that and saying how are people disempowered today and that disempowerment can happen in a functional way it can also happen in an emotional way so this isn’t just about access this is actually about that appreciation enjoyment designed for delight design for experience and the only way you  can get there is understanding different people’s experience and understanding how  varied experience can be depending on personal characteristics but also ages really we’re saying  or gender or where people are living or the knowledge they have or the tools they’re using so the more we can go to the edges of those differences and difference being the way people think move sense and feel but beyond that also those other characteristics of difference the more we can understand where that inconsistency is and if we look for where inconsistency is that’s where opportunity is and what’s really interesting about that you just talked about you know there’s so many innovations that are our fundamental tools today because of designing into those spaces those spaces have given people that need and that desire to go and change something  because of you know either that functional loss or emotional loss that they had so it’s just such a vacuum provides you know a draw an energy that you can design into and actually as designers going to understand those spaces is where you find interesting and powerful problems to solve and therefore innovation if I can this is something you said there’s something that you said just reminded me of what Rama Gheerawo from the RCA says he says if you design at the edges you get the centre for free. So if you design for disability you’re going to get all the people who don’t have that specific disability for free it just works it’s like the curb cut effect so taking an inclusive perspective of how to solve a problem you’re truly helping everyone and I think that that the centre is not lost when you start at the edge and in fact, it’s that perspective that people are so much more than their disability or their specific access need or their specific difference and they’ll still go right across the centre of that normal curve in other characteristics so if you’ve gone to the edges on one or two areas on each as you say that whole centre it’s just much more efficient. 


[09:10 – 09:21] Pete Horsley

I love that a saying that’s attributed mostly to Plato who says that necessity is the mother of all invention and you know it is about how we understand the full breadth of human necessity. yeah, I love the conversation there’s an article by accessibility researcher Richard Ladner where he talks about the need for both self-determination and also technical expertise when we’re designing for user empowerment so self-determination means those with disability have a goal of the process like Léonie said before not just passive recipients of the technology designed for them so on this Chris I know that there’s kind of part of the story of how you had your journey into accessibility at google you have a love for opera singing and music and when you moved into a role with google play in the music division there it was there that you met a user tester who had a profound impact on you can you tell us a little bit about that kind of story and also specifically you went on to offer that user tester a job as a manager and why was that important to you so a bit of a double-barrel question for you?


[10:20 – 12:11] Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility/Disability Inclusion, EMEA, Google

I think the whole thing actually goes back to Plato’s expression you see I necessity was the mother of invention I studied opera but I wasn’t very good so I had to get a job so I got a job at technology and it was a much better day job than waiting on tables but the  waiting on tables though I do have to say taught a lot of really important skills about how to  interact with people and how to read people that’s a core factor for anything but going towards  fast forward another 15-18 years I’m at google I’m the lead technical program manager for google play music and a test engineer came into our one of our meetings she turned on voice over yes we worked on iOS and I heard button button button button I said what’s that and she said this is google play music for someone who’s blind I said well that’s stupid how do they use it and she said well that’s  why I’m here and that was my introduction to to accessibility I had 10 years at apple three years  at Sony a year at Disney i’d never heard of it and here is this thing that I realised i’ve never  thought about everything I built was made without consideration and I should probably do something about that so within a couple of months I had the opportunity to take on leading accessibility  for google play the whole the whole suite of play products but I knew I didn’t know anything so I hired this test engineer as a program manager on my team to teach me what I needed to know about accessibility she herself is in the community she’s blind but she’s also a phd and a published poet an author so just because she’s blind doesn’t mean she has to be test engineering she just happened to have those skills too so the breadth of her experience and her ability  to communicate was tremendous and she taught me a lot and she’s still one of my one of my dearest friends.


[12:11 -12:36 ] Pete Horsley

That’s awesome such a great story and Léonie I remember reading a quote by you where you said that lots of the industry are fixated on order kind of audits is the solution and you went on to say that if you needed audit then you’ve probably it’s probably already too late can you tell us a little bit about what you meant by that?


[12:36 – 14:12] Léonie Watson

Yes it’s a lot like building a long road to get you from one city to another and then having built all the road you discover there’s a big ravine in the way and and you’ve you’ve got to build a bridge if you’ve done all the work and you’ve got to the end you’ve got to your product it’s launched  it’s out there in the world and then you start to think about accessibility it’s far too late you’re just going to tip yourself off the edge of that cliff you will find that you uncover an awful lot of issues most of them will sit quite happily on your backlog until a couple of years go round and you either redesign and try to do something about it or you get it retested and you add a few more issues to your backlog where they sit quite happily for another few months I’m being a little bit flippant but but the idea is is that you you’ve got to think about this this from from the very beginning to give another you know analogy if you were to build a house and not put any doors into it you’d have to take the house apart again and put it back together with some suitable spaces for some doors and so people could get in and out accessibility is a lot like that there’s only so much you can do to go back and fix it after the fact some stuff has to be done right at the origin of of the product or the service otherwise you just can’t do it I have no science for this at all but but my several years experience in the industry now tells me that you will probably spend twice as much time and twice as much money trying to retrofit accessibility and only be half as successful and I’m yeah nothing much has changed my my unscientific opinion of that particular you know kind of balance of things. 


[14:12 – 14:45] Pete Horsley

All that while you’re missing out on potential customer dollars as well right absolutely yeah yeah so if the second part of what’s needed to design for user empowerment is technical expertise Christine what are some of the barriers that you’ve seen when working with companies all over the world through open inclusion what are those barriers to engaging technical expertise?


[14:45 – 17:16] Christine Hemphill

It’s really interesting because when I think of expertise and  whether it’s about innovation or just as good design I think of three layers of expertise that need to match in order to create something delightful  one of them is that technical or kind of solution expertise knowing how to mould manage whatever you’re creating whether it’s a built environment zeros and ones in a digital environment et cetera  then there’s a user expertise which is understanding how it’s going to land in the context of a person’s life and what that usage is and you need user expertise into it and then there’s actually an enabling expertise which is an interesting one that’s often  forgotten as well which is that how you bring this together so it’s the people that have the skills  whether it’s audit skills user research skills engaging with community skills you know but also  access to finance access to advice access to human resources you know so when those three sets  of expertise match that’s when magic happens and it’s not when they’re just brought into the room but when they’re actually equally powered when they’re all given um not just that  you know from designing for to designing with but actually designing by and that you know people working together to design something with all three sets of that  expertise being matched in the middle to create something delightful so technical expertise is really important and particularly when we’re looking at things like emerging technology and you know the only Christopher and I were just saying that you know we’d last met at XR Access back in 2019 face to face you know emerging technologies like XR like autonomous vehicles like ai you know these new spaces that things are happening you need solution experts that know  how to use these tools in a really powerful way and adapt them to the situation that you’re solving for to design something that’s going to add real value but that’s like having a really fast car if you don’t have the fuel of the user expertise it’s not going to go anywhere so it’s that matching expertise so technical expertise is absolutely required and really high-tech technical  expertise is a delight to work with that’s not me by the way I’m one of those enablers but it’s those with that matching and matching power not just matching knowledge that’s when I get excited.


[17:17 – 18:17] Pete Horsley

It reminds me of a story I remember speaking to someone at IBM who was working on some of the kind of the code that was sitting kind of behind the ai for self-driving cars and she was saying that a good friend of hers is a wheelchair user and used to drive their wheelchair by shuffling their feet kind of backward so kind of would push her and push themselves backward in the wheelchair and she saw that the code that was going into self-driving cars actually could potentially harm her friend because it considered that a wheelchair user should drive forwards and it was then that she kind of had this kind of light bulb moment of going we’ve gotta include a broader range of experience in these new technologies you know to be able to make sure that it doesn’t harm my friend and just kind of building on that guy. 


[18:18 – 18:41] Christine Hemphill

Yeah, what you said just crystallised something in my head what you described for me is the difference between empathy and experience empathy is recognising that we need to recognise wheelchairs and in our ai but experiences understanding that sometimes the wheelchairs get pushed backward that’s the difference in terms of bringing people of the community together. 


[18:41 – 19:18] Pete Horsley

Yeah, that’s brilliant and I guess we make some assumptions in here but don’t we as well of around access to education to be a technological expert in some of these things as well and that is not possible for all people as well so I’ve got a good friend who she had to make her decision on which university she could go to based on the fact of its accessibility and that wasn’t kind of providing her with kind of the greatest amount of choice I don’t know Léonie have you seen kind of instances where education is kind of a barrier to someone even entering into this space?


[19:18 – 21:19] Léonie Watson

Yes very much so we know that you know there are all sorts of challenges for someone with a disability or accessibility you need to get into education get into employment even get access to technology in some respects I think that’s changing for the better when I lost my site 20 years ago there were one or two screen readers available to choose from and they both cost several hundreds of pounds which to someone at the time who’d stopped work because i’d lost my site was you know an extraordinary barrier at the time now of course we have integrated screen  readers in pretty much every platform that someone might want to to buy a device and within that we’ve got a good or reasonably good array of different cost levels you know of devices so that’s one area where I think you know the the playing field as they say has started to to level out but we’ve got a bit of a circular problem on our hands because a lot of the barriers and not just the socioeconomic barriers it’s just simply if you can’t access the educational tools if you can’t access the you know employment websites to apply for a job you’re never going to get over those barriers no matter how great your technology is or no matter how capable you are unless we can solve the problem of getting more people with disabilities and different perspectives into education and into the workplace then we come back to that original question of you know we’re not designing good products and services without  people like that on the team without them involved in the processes so we’ve really got to try  and you’ve got to start somewhere I guess and I think we really need to fix the education problem first because if we can’t fix the education problem both in terms of getting people access to it and in terms of educating people to build things that are accessible and usable to everybody  the rest of us are just going to keep fighting a rearguard action so yeah I think education is core to the solution.


[20:20 – 22:08] Pete Horsley

I guess kind of somewhat related to that there are people around the world that are starting to speak of the great resignation following Covid 19 where a great number of people are kind of reconsidering new career opportunities or a new role and I guess we’ve seen some of the areas that people with disability have really kind of petitioned for many years of flexible working conditions and those sorts of things have been you know brought in literally at the drop of a hat in some instances are there opportunities here to build back better and to give more opportunities in employment particularly in technical roles to people with disability Chris I want to ask you what are some of the opportunities you see here to potentially build back better?


[22:09 – 23:25] Christopher Patnoe

I think coming from google we started to see how technology can provide that bridge but also the mismatch between what a person can do and what the skills and what society or the technology allows. So taking a moment like Covid and this world we’re in where we have to do things differently it now becomes a matter of intention to build back better. It will never happen by itself you have to take that opportunity by the horns (that’s an American expression) run with it and not be chased by it because then you have the opportunity to bring people in work with a company like Open Inclusion or TetraLogical – bring people in at the beginning shift that engineering and do it well and then make these products more accessible and do it broadly. Everyone has an opportunity to do it no matter where you are here at google we do it on search and we’ll do it in android but everybody has an opportunity to do it it’s a choice that you make and if you make that choice to make your product better and contribute to humanity and that doesn’t suck either.


[23:25 – 23:49] Pete Horsley

That’s great well Léonie Chris just mentioned your company TetraLogical as well and it has four values and one of those is around how you can consider everyone and make decisions that exclude no one I want to kind of get kind of a little bit practical here so what does that kind of practice look like as you work with businesses?


[23:50 – 25:26] Léonie Watson

Well it starts with our own so you know when we when we choose new tools which we’ve actually  just done recently we wanted a new project management scheduling kind of tool to use  we’re a small company so we got around the table and and we we looked at some options and we  found one that was you know accessible usable and interestingly not necessarily always in the same way some of the team are using the web interface I’m using an integration into slack because the website’s not so accessible but actually in Slack it works really well and and that then is how we  we try and encourage the companies that we work with to think about it is when you make a decision  not just purchasing but any decision a direction you’re going to take a thing you’re going to buy  try and think about the needs of everybody who’s involved and try and think creatively about it  humans are complicated varied we come in all sorts of different shapes sizes configurations abilities capabilities and I know universal design is a very sort of popular concept but I actually think it’s a little bit of a myth because there is nothing that’s you know universally accessible because humans are so different but what I do think you can do is is encourage people to be inclusive by as I say thinking creatively if you know solution one works for a number of people are  there alternatives that give people access to that same thing you know through different routes and different avenues that give the same experience same capability just in different ways and so creativity is is a big way that we try and encourage companies to think about inclusion.


[25:26 – 27:34] Christine Hemphill

To add to that I think and to bring two parts of that conversation together the word Christopher used before intentionality and what Léonie was just talking about which is for the people in question in this group so when you know in TetraLogical Léonie’s looking at her team that’s the team that it’s relevant for it’s not all of humanity and I think it’s being conscious being intentional about who you are designing for there are trade-offs. I don’t believe in universal design I believe in inclusive design which is you push the universal design approach as far as it can go but there are real limits to it and then you need to  bring adaptive design optionality capability that people you know as Léonie was just talking about some people might choose to go at it one way some might choose to go at it another way and it’s just making sure that there are roots into everyone that you have intentionally chosen that for and that won’t be absolutely everyone because there is too much variance in the way humans are so it’s taking that as a very conscious decision and not doing it by accident which is where most of the exclusion happens today.


[26:41 – 27:23] Christopher Patnoe

If I can build on top of that this is a juicy area here customisation is critical because you’re never going to be able to create any product that meets everyone’s needs you have to allow people to customise it to meet those needs some people need bigger fonts some people need easier text so how you create your interface how you create your product by being intentional you understand what are the options that you want to empower? Who do you want to enable with your technology? So customisation is one key factor that I’ve learned over the years that is a really powerful way of making something useful for everyone.


[27:23 – 27:28] Christine Hemphill

And giving agency to the user because you can’t possibly imagine all the context of all the users but they can. 


[27:34 – 28:15] Pete Horsley 

I think that AI is kind of a double-edged sword in that space right like because you know potentially it has a way of being able to know a particular user and to adapt kind of the needs to that particular user but if it has been designed in a way that’s kind of through assumption then potentially we’re kind of worse off as a result of that so yeah the whole suppose both promise and kind of potential pitfalls as well. 


[28:15 – ] Léonie Watson 

That’s the thing I was just about to say is not too much around ai but you mentioned you know not making assumptions and that’s critical to what Christine was just saying it’s about empowering the user the person to say look I want to change this font size change this colour scheme listen to this rather than read it not assuming that because a person has  x disability this is how they’re going to consume the content or these are the decisions they’re going to make so yeah that assumption kind of you know philosophy is is so wrong so bad it’s got to be about empowering people to choose how they consume your content or your product and service.


[28:50 – 29:18] Pete Horsley 

It’s brilliant soon we’ll have some option some opportunities for audience questions so if you’d like to jump into q a rather than the chat function and post your questions in there we’ll be able to pose those to our amazing panelists Christine what would you like to see for to create better conditions around design for user empowerment what would you like to see kind of everyone on this call and those that listen to this afterward too?


[29:20 – 31:48] Christine Hemphill 

Such a gorgeous question a little bit like Christopher I came to this quite late and you know in my quirky way and I was a designer for many decades before I became an inclusive designer so I’ve got a really strong perspective on this because I failed people not because I didn’t turn up with intent every day to do something delightful but because I didn’t know better and because I didn’t have that fuel to do better than knowledge of how people experience things differently than I was creating and imagining and designing with all positive intent for them and not having that knowledge of how that was being consumed and how that was being experienced to do something better. So to me it’s preventing people from being me in the future by giving people the tools the the the fuel the capability the confidence and the competence to be able to understand that early on as Léonie was talking about before not building a house with no doors and then going dang we didn’t let the people that  were actually really wanting to to come into this house actually get in so to make to lower the bar of knowledge and of experience to allow people to understand how people differ and how that difference is going to impact the design that they’re creating so that and also to lower the bar on design that there’s not this a community of designers and non-designers i’d actually like to see a real fluidity of people stepping in and out you know everyone having a role in design and having more shared power you don’t need to go to a certain college and university and and have a  degree with a capital D on it but that people are actually empowered to come in and create stuff better and technology is such an enabler of that because you don’t need to know how to write javascript to know how to design something better you need people that can do that you need  people that have that technical capability but to bring more people into the design part of that have more experiences that experience is intuitive to them and also to be able to reach to experiences more easily that are not intuitive to them.


[32:06 – 32:45] Christopher Patnoe 

What you said Christine reminds me of something that I talk about when I give a sort of a lecture on how to build inclusively and I have sort of three key points one is what you’re good at – do something where you have some technical expertise because like in jazz you need to improvise you need to understand where you’re going and how to get there next is nothing about us without us it’s a Léonie’s point and the third and for me, this is important when talking with people who are just getting started to start with one person, solve one person’s problems first and do it well because you have the technical expertise then you can expand it and broaden it and make a more robust solution and provide support for more people.


[32:45 – ] Léonie Watson 

I’d add to that and say don’t be afraid. That’s the other thing, yes yeah this is a serious matter of course it is but don’t be scared by it you know  I knew nothing about accessibility until I got interested and bit by bit I learned. If I  look back on some of the first websites I built back when I was a designer in the 90s oh horrors all the accessibility nightmares you know you know bad intent I just didn’t know any better and you know just read one one blog post listen to this podcast one thing and just decide today I’m going to do one thing differently I’m going to learn one thing and I’m going to put it into practice give it a few days of doing that choose another thing move on, move up keep going but just don’t be scared to get started whatever you do it’s vital.


[33:41 – 34:57] Christine Hemphill

I often talk about two things get in the way of people stepping into inclusion more fully really often one of them is fear and the other is complexity and what Léonie and Christopher have both just given you are two beautiful ways of getting around that so firstly everyone gets stuff wrong and this is a world that you can never know everything it’s a journey  and you never get off it and actually that’s the joy of it so just get into it take one step get  curious learn keep learning you never step off that learning you know map that’s moving under  us as well because even if you thought that you could possibly get to know the seven billion  configurations of humanity which of course we can’t we’re also innovating all the time in our  environment so those matches and mismatches are never ending so don’t worry about the fact that they’re never-ending just get in and enjoy it and leverage the bits that you know about and do that thing that you can today and that’s it, you’re not worrying about complexity, not worrying about solving for everyone and everything but do that one thing leveraging your skills that you can do today to do something better.


[34:57  – 35:30] Pete Horsley

That is so brilliantly put by all three of you I feel like that’s kind of we should just like tie a bow in this webinar right now with that point but we do have some questions here from the audience so Paul has asked to find solution experts is working with a university that supports students with a disability a good place to find this talent and the second part of the question is I’m trying to find the right path to iterate and I’m unsure if students will have time. Who would like to answer that one Christine would you like to take that one?


[35:30 – 35:53] Christine Hemphill

I think it doesn’t matter where you go recognize the limitations and the strengths  of communities of people so if you’re going to students you’ve got a lot of energy you’ve got  a lot of intent you’ll probably have some really fresh ideas because you know people haven’t been  anchored in decades of thinking in a certain way so there’s some real advantages of of leveraging  students for technical expertise or new ways of thinking and not being too anchored equally  there’s not a lot of life experience and so that nearly only talking about just turning up  and failing you know I did that for decades as well then you turn up and you learn over time  so recognising that there’s a trade off either side and actually trying to balance and again that were Christopher was talking about your run always goes to the edges I often draw a  star and go go out here to the star students are one edge of that in terms of life experience  and depending on what they’re studying what their expertise is that they’ve learned they’ll have  different you know particular capabilities they’re bringing but look to what they’re not bringing  and look to who you can balance that with that can bring you know a different perspective to balance  where those gaps might be if you’re only looking to one community there will be gaps that’s in any community


[35:54 – 37:13] Pete Horsley

We had a question that came through from Jennifer related to this and she was asking what criteria do testers need to become trusted testers or better testers. Does anyone want to answer that one?


[37:13 – 38:19] Christopher Patnoe

I can take this one trusted tester is an overloaded term to use a computer science thing it has lots of different meanings in the US there is a capital ‘T’ Trusted tester which has to do with section 508 testing which is like website testing essentially at google we have a thing called we have a trusted tester program lowercase ‘t’ is on both sides though we sometimes will capitalise it and this is for people who are in the community who wants to help and sort of test early our software and provide feedback for us I think the most important thing is you have to be good at some piece of tech some piece of assistive tech so you want to because you need to be able to provide meaningful feedback and not just what’s broken but also what’s important is how you can do it better so can use the technology thoughtfully and explain what’s broken and how it could be done better. I think those are sort of and be willing to do it be hungry and enjoy that kind of work so those are the three things to understand the technology to be able to explain what’s working, what’s not working well and then just enjoy doing it.


[38:19 – 39:41] Christine Hemphill

If I can add a layer to that I think you know that’s a it’s really important to have those things but actually I don’t think so much of trusted testers as I do trusted insight and there’s a real difference between the two it’s not the person that we trust or don’t trust the person is the person they turn up with intent yes that’s important they turn up with capability around a specific assistive technology that’s important but let’s also be really conscious of that varies enormously from person to person an expert screen reader is very different you know screen reader user is very different to someone who’s another screen reader user and these are both trusted testers if you’ve designed the research to understand and engage them in a way that will get you the insight that’s going to inform what you’re doing so the person just needs to be genuine authentic honest look for good as well as bad you’re not just looking to find all the problems you actually want to tell people what they’ve done right so they protect that they don’t by accident throw away what’s already working so to me people are trusted it’s not that the test is trusted the other person is trusted and it’s up to the researcher or the organisation doing the review to make sure that they’re given the framing of the question that gives you trusted insight and that’s you know that’s you need to know that you can trust what you’re hearing to make a better decision on the basis of


[39:15 – 40:17] Pete Horsley

One of the other questions we’ve had come through was from Jonathan it is how can inclusion in the disability space not only work on disability inclusion but lift the economic participation of people with disabilities so this is really kind of to the core of you know not just kind of being involved in part of the process but how do we see kind of genuine inclusion that lifts the economic participation of people with disabilities who would like to answer that one?


[40:18 – 40:58] Léonie Watson 

well I guess in some senses it comes back to that secular problem I was mentioning before the best  way we can elevate participate participation by people with disabilities is to make sure that the tools resources you know are the paraphernalia that are part of those processes are accessible and usable by those people you know it doesn’t matter how many degrees you’ve got if the website that you need to apply for the job that you want is not accessible it’s just as simple as that so we’ve got to solve accessibility to a large extent I think to solve the kind of participation and you know the elevation of that participation


[40:59 – 43:49] Christopher Patnoe

if I can build on top of that I think the there’s the other form of accessibility is important too  that we have actually there is there is training that that is affordable and and available so it has to be available first and then it has to be accessible because one and not the other  doesn’t really solve the problem so having training that gives people life first digital  basic digital skills and then the more advanced skills there are a bunch of great certification  programs that google we have a grow for google role with google program where we have like  a program management design data science certifications that will give you the skills  necessary to get a job so there has to be training that can be that are available  and they have to be made accessible I think that’s really important I think it’s also fluidity of different ways people might wish to engage and participate so yeah we’re talking about you know the change post covert and giving people different ways of participating in creating value and I think the disability community by the nature of mismatch in the world is incredibly innovative and creative and as we were talking about incredibly valuable because of the insights  through that you know understanding where those mismatches and where those gaps and opportunity  spaces are it’s turning the innovative into innovators it’s turning creative into creators and allowing that valuable to be valuable to the individuals that have that value and there’s so many different ways that can happen I mean even remarkable and the program you’ve got is taking that entrepreneurial taking that innovative perspective and allowing people to become  you know entrepreneurs and go helping people being you know bringing that enabling capability in and saying how can we support people through that learning process to go from i’ve got a great idea  to actually being able to commercialise that idea and be supported in doing so  even things like you know the programs in the uk that are designed around innovation  just little things like making sure that the process to apply for them is accessible  and not just accessible from an audit you know accessibility way but inclusive and considering how different perspectives are going to generate a more innovative and more valuable solution so  the people reviewing them are actually taking that into consideration as they review them so it’s there’s such natural value there it’s being able to make sure that that value is able to be  generated by the people you know involved in that.


[43:49 – 44:11] Pete Horsley

it’s brilliant we have so many other questions that I’d love to get to but we’ve come to the end of our time so I want to ask one last question and if we can keep it brief that would be great but if we’re to ask each of you what is one insight or way that we can design for user empowerment what would your insight or what would your encouragement be? Let’s start with you Léonie.


[44:13 – 45:13] Léonie Watson 

get to know the different medium or media for which you’re designing so if you’re an oil painter you get to know how oil paints behave if you’re a watercolorist you understand the differences it’s the same here you as a designer or a developer of a product will be familiar with the difference between a desktop or a laptop interaction and a tablet device or phone device broaden that out get to understand what the modes of interaction what the media are like for someone who listens to content and feel free to experiment with that and to design good experiences because they’re all different modes of interaction what’s it like when you speak to your technology in instead of use other input devices what’s the experience like for that think about you know the language that someone needs to use so yeah get amongst it get used to to the different modes of interaction and broaden your horizons and start designing for different experiences right the way across the spectrum.


[45:12 – 46:30] Christine Hemphill

I’m going to keep mine a short one ‘unlearn’ it’s a slightly weird one rather than just looking to learn look at yourself and work out what we need to unlearn so if we’re going to you know we’ve just gone through a pandemic again there are things that we assume either individually or in our society are barriers to our progression going forward so get curious about where they are in ourselves individually and start with yourself but actually also in organisations in your own  organisation obviously you know in ripples around yourself and out from yourself and in society as well and work out what do we need to unlearn that is limiting us today that is limiting our  ability to see and do better because it’s actually quite a lot and the more we engage with people  the more we can see that more easily and more quickly and that gives us the ability to see  these spaces that are all around us all the time where we can just do things so much better so yeah rather than just thinking about learning thinking about what we need to unlearn to get there.


[46:30 – 48:03] Christopher Patnoe

I’m embarrassed to talk after Léonie Christine because nothing I have to say is really remarkable I guess the thing I would I would say is you’re never going to get it right  so you need to provide options for people because everyone is I used to say people are hard everyone  is is a complicated human being Christine said there’s like 7 billion permutations of humanity  and I think there’s even more than that just because people are so difficult because there’s the situation changing so the same person’s environment will cause them to  to react differently so as you’re designing your experiences you want to do it with the community  because you never know you’re never going to know what the problem is it it’s it’s the wheelchair forwards versus the wheelchair backwards problem so you want to provide solutions  and variations of the solutions but now that that sounds really scary I have to do everything no you work with a community to understand what is the most important thing and provide the most  important options first and when you become successful as Léonie said learn something  new every day bring it together and continue to develop so you’ll you create a product that is robust and thoughtful and and designed with intent.


[48:03 – 49:20] Pete Horsley

Well, I want to thank each of our panelists Léonie, Christine and Chris. Thank you so much for your insights today! It’s been fantastic. Thank you for getting up early to talk to us here in Australia and for those that are joining us from other parts of the world. Thanks also so to David Childs our Auslan interpreter thank you and Remarkable we recently launched a fellowship program called the Jessica King Fellowship it was launched in honour of one of our founders who is no longer with us but it is aimed at providing pathways for people with disability to explore the world of entrepreneurship and startups it involves six-month support program five thousand dollar donation to your learning and you can put that to use in whatever way you choose and we also provide mentoring over those six months as well from incredible mentors applications are currently open they close next month so if you or someone you know could be interested in that please head to our website  and look for the Jessica King Fellowship.


Mentions made:

[9:10] Rama Gheerawo, From Extreme to Mainstream

[09:27] Design for User Empowerment, Richard Ladner 

[37:13] Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Apply now for #RA22!

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[00:00 – 01:02] Naomi Simson

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