Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Removing Barriers for Research Participants with Disabilities



Over a billion people worldwide (and around 25% of the populations of the USA and Europe) live with some kind of disability—a reality no organization can afford to ignore. That means all of us must design research that includes people who are poorly served, or completely excluded, from the products, services, and spaces we study and create. These strategies for inclusion should be developed in partnership with people who have lived experience of a wide range of access needs.

In this talk, researchers and community panelists from Open Inclusion share key strategies they are using to build their inclusive practice and a case study showing these approaches in action. The session will be highly interactive, promoting dialogue by, with, and for people variously impacted by exclusionary practices and engaged in inclusive research. Participants in the EPIC community are encouraged to share their experience, expertise and challenges, learning from and with people who are impacted by various forms of exclusion.


Photos of presenters from Open Inclusion

Open Inclusion is a London-based research and solutions consultancy, helping major brands to create products, services, and environments that are beautiful, inclusive and effective for everyone. Disability inclusion is at the heart of what we do: we work closely with a research participant panel who have lived experience of access needs, delivering insight for design solutions.

Speakers include four members the Open Inclusion research team and three experienced members of our community panel who help ensure that study designs are inclusive of people with a wide range of specific access needs:

Christine Hemphill, founder and Managing Director, has been designing and making new products, services, teams or businesses, for over 25 years, and has focused solely on disability and age inclusion for a decade. She has pioneered new approaches for inclusion-led innovation, consumer research, and design across many industries and sectors

Tom Pokinko, Research Director, is an inclusive design and user experience research specialist. He is passionate about organising and facilitating user-centred research with “edge case” users as a way to create better user experiences for everyone. Tom has an MA and MDes in Inclusive Design.

Cathy Rundle, Inclusive Research Manager, has over 2 decades of experience in the field of inclusive user research, design and innovation. Previously she led a user research team at RNIB and consulted on several European-funded projects on new technology for people with disabilities.

Kate Mesh, Senior Inclusive Researcher, has over a 15 years of experience as a communication researcher, studying how people with disabilities—especially people with deafness and hearing loss—understand and create rich, multi-layered messages using their hands, bodies, and voices. Before joining Open, Kate researched sign languages and signing communities in the United States, Mexico, Israel, and Sweden.

Josh Wintersgill is Inclusive Innovation Programme Lead and until recently was the Mobility/Dexterity Community Lead. As a powered wheelchair user for the last 19 years, Josh got fed up with the lack of dignity, safety and comfort when flying by air and now produces award winning products to improve flying for wheelchair users. He is also Founder and Director of Able Move.

Lynn Cox, Community Panel Lead for Vision Impairment, is an established Disability/Visual Equality Trainer who has been working for nearly two decades with commercial, public and third sector organisations. She holds an BA and MA in Fine Art as well as mathematics and computing degrees. She has worked with major disability and arts organisations including Tate Britain, Modern, and The Ambassador Theatre Group. Lynn has firsthand experience of disability through her own visual impairment.

Samantha Fletcher, Community Panel Lead for Neurodiversity, supports neurodiverse panel members and provides advice to Open Inclusion on access needs in dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, autism spectrum and other learning and cognitive diversity. Samantha has dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADD herself. She has an MA in disability studies and has worked in the disability third sector for over 11 years, and sits on the British Dyslexia Association New Technology committee.

Related Resources

Hearing Through Their Ears: Developing Inclusive Research Methods to Co-Create with Blind Participants (free article)

Designing and Conducting Inclusive Research: How a Global Technology Company and an Online Research Platform Partnered to Explore the Technology Experiences of Users who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (free article)

Tutorial: Research for Accessible & Inclusive Design (EPIC Member video 45 minutes)