Session One – Morning

Broadway Room

Stop Trying to Fix Me: how to design for autism in a way that’s actually wanted and needed

11.00am-11.25am, Thu 18 October 2018

Autism is not a tragedy. Autistic people aren’t broken or in need of fixing. Despite this, so much design effort is focused on trying to minimise or repress autistic traits and teach autistic people how to fit into some backwards notion of normal instead of maximising the strengths that are already there.

Designers who follow this approach might believe they are being helpful and supportive and may even think they’re adding value to the lives of autistic people, but they’re really not. Stereotypes, myths and misconceptions run wild and autistic people often find themselves needing to work even harder to have their needs and differences taken seriously and respected.

As an autistic person and a UXer, Ashlea McKay will share some stories and take you through what design for autism should look like if it is to have a positive impact on everyone.


Ashlea McKay

Freelance UX researcher, writer and speaker

Ashlea McKayAshlea McKay has more than 8 years of experience in UX spanning both the public and private sectors in Australia as well as the international start-up space. She comes from an industrial design background and co-founded UX advice column UX Agony Aunt with Optimal Workshop in 2015.

Ashlea is a proud autistic person who was diagnosed later in life. After spending 30 years not knowing she was missing a key piece of her identity, finding out she’s on the spectrum was the best thing that ever happened to her.

She’s a fierce self-advocate who frequently writes and speaks about her experiences in the hopes of helping and educating others.

Ashlea is currently writing her first book on life as an autistic UXer that will also explore research and design for autism.

This doesn’t make any sense! – Cognitive Impairment and Digital Accessibility

11.30am-11.55am, Thu 18 October 2018

An adventure in traversing technology with cognitive impairment: the good, the bad, and the what the actual … ?!?

When it comes to digital accessibility, cognitive impairment doesn’t always spring to mind, but a cognitive impairment can dramatically change the way people interact with technology, sometimes excluding them completely.

In our society, the use of digital tech for everyday life stuff like paying bills or planning a night out with friends is ingrained, so we need to ensure cognitive impairment is included when we think about accessibility.

This talk will walk through some examples of how people with cognitive impairment interact with technology and outline some simple ways you can improve their user experience.


Jessica King

Accessible Technology Advocate

Jessica KingJessica King is a word nerd, founder, and farmer who’s passionate about improving lives with technology.

With her background in sociolinguistics, Jessica understands the importance of amplifying the voices of vulnerable members of society, advocating for those voices to be heard, to make the invisible visible.

Currently working for digital accessibility startup Intopia, she’s a founder of inclusive navigation and data startup abilio, a hackathon veteran, and an alumnus of both NSW Government and inclusive technology startup accelerators.

Human Rights and Technology

12:00pm-12.25pm, Thu 18 October 2018

The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a major project on Human Rights & Technology. The project is being led by Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow and was launched at an international conference in Sydney on 24 July 2018. An Issues paper was also released on that day, covering several important topics, including accessible technology for people with disability.

The project will examine the challenges and opportunities to protect human rights in an age of rapid technological development. Globally, efforts are under way to respond to this and an Australian perspective is important.

The project is focusing on responsible innovation. This involves meeting Australia’s international commitments to protect human rights alongside the pursuit of technological advances in driving our economic growth and social development. One of the key issues that the Commission is seeking feedback on is accessible technology for people with disability.

The Commission wants to hear from stakeholders across the public and private sectors to inform proposals for the Discussion Paper, set for release in mid-2019.


Zoe Paleologos

Senior Project Officer, Human Rights Scrutiny Team

Zoe PaleologosZoe Paleologos is a Senior Project Officer in the Commission team.

With legal and scientific qualifications, she has professional experience in human rights law, advocacy, research and community capacity building.

Zoe has worked for NGOs, and in the private and public sectors.