Innovation Inspires Inclusion

Developing Accessibility Expertise with Primary Users

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Grinnell College Access Leaders — Fall 2017

Lauren Bloomfield ’20

Katie Herbert ’20

Miho Tatsuki ’20

Rachel Fritzell ’20

Rebecca Hsiung ’19

Advised by: Eliza Willis, Micki Behounek, and Autumn Wilke

About the Project

In Fall 2016, Eliza Willis and Autumn Wilke were awarded funding for a pilot program through the Innovation Fund to explore accessibility on the Grinnell College campus.  The project, titled Innovation Inspires Inclusion was launched in January 2017 as a leadership program for 5-6 current Grinnell College students, to use contextual inquiry to document the experiences of users with lived primary or secondary expertise related to disability within the Grinnell College environment.  

The goals of the project are:

  • To provide contextual feedback on the accessibility of the physical, informational, and attitudinal environment at Grinnell College through individualized reviews of programs and spaces.  
  •  To provide leadership development to Grinnell College students who will become leaders in their fields and expand accessibility awareness beyond Grinnell. 
  • To provide opportunities for individuals with disability expertise, by way of their lived experiences, to influence the accessibility of the college campus. 

Grinnell College User/Experts

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) defines a primary user/expert as “a person who has developed expertise by means of their lived experience in dealing with the challenges of the environment due to a physical, sensory or cognitive functional limitation.”  User/experts include, but are not limited to, individuals with physical, learning, sensory, or psychiatric disabilities, parents managing toddlers, and older people with changing vision or stamina.

According to Elaine Ostroff, "(t)hese diverse people have developed strategies for coping with the barriers and hazards they encounter everyday. The experience of the user/expert is usually in strong contrast to the life experience of most designers and is invaluable in evaluating both existing products and places as well as new designs in development." [Ostroff, Elaine. INNOVATION, the Quarterly Journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Volume 16, No. 1 1997.]

Any member of the Grinnell community (e.g., faculty, staff, students, citizens of the city of Grinnell, etc.) with either primary or secondary experience with disability is eligible to apply to be a user/expert and participate in active reviews of the college environment.   

Apply to be a User/Expert at Grinnell College