CRITICAL UX

Critique as a signal of hope

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Founder of hmntycntrd

When I look out into the UX community, I see a tired community, I see a frustrated community, I see a part of the community who has grown tired of all this talk around being human-centered while working in environments that struggle to be truly human-centered in ways that acknowledge privilege, power, and injustice.

There is plenty to critique  — but there is plenty to hope for too. 

Let's lean into both together.


Mariame Kaba

"Hope is a discipline."

Vivianne Castillo

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When we talk about disability in design, we often focus on accessibility. But what could design look like if it not only included disability but centered and celebrated it? This panel brings together disabled designers who challenge the ableist assumptions and norms of common design practices. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ What assumptions does "accessibility" make about disability?

+ What types of disability wisdom should we adopt in design?

+ What does it look like to design from a place of joy or anger vs. pity?

#1: Beyond Accessibility

3 thought-provoking panels

With American Sign Language Interpreters and CART Services for Each Panel

Liz Jackson is a founding member of The Disabled List, an advocacy collective that engages with disability as a critical design practice. The Disabled List examines how day-to-day practices of disability are both designerly and exploited by professional design culture. Liz is currently analyzing power differentials that are embedded in corporate disability initiatives: primarily through how brand partnerships with large scale disability charities serve to undermine and neutralize the work of disabled employees and independent activists. Through this process, Liz works to shift the focus from those who wield power to those who can be entrusted to harness it.

Meet the Panelists

Liz Jackson

Jen White-Johnson is an Afro-Latina, disabled artist, designer, educator, and activist, whose visual work explores the intersection of content and caregiving with an emphasis on redesigning ableist visual culture. When her son was diagnosed as Autistic, she began to examine the absence of black disabled children in digital and literary media and started creating zines to give visibility to disabled children of color. Her advocacy work has been archived in libraries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National Museum of Women in the Arts and has been featured in The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Teen Vogue, and AfroPunk. Jen is an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Bowie State University. She holds an MFA in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Meet the Panelists

Jennifer White-Johnson

She/her/They/ella | Twitter: @jtknoxroxs

What does an anti-racist design process truly entail? Although organizations often promote "diversity" as a solution to racist design--more diverse teams, more diverse data equals less racist design-- these initiatives often fail to address the racist assumptions of design and design operations. This panel brings together designers who are rethinking how their organizations study race and racism. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ How do we study race and racism without reducing users to essentialized categories?

+ How do we set up design teams that respect the lived knowledge of POC without tokenizing them?

+ How do we navigate the unique legal and ethical challenges of doing anti-racist research?

#2: Failure of Diversity

Stacey Houston, II, PhD is a Senior UX Researcher at Instagram. He helped to create and currently leads research for Instagram’s Equity team, whose mission is to ensure people from underserved communities feel welcomed, supported and empowered, on the platform and in their everyday lives. Dr. Houston uses a variety of advanced quantitative and qualitative research methods to understand user needs and to support product teams in building equitable products. Dr. Houston draws from his prior academic and non-profit research experience in racial inequity to drive strategy decisions across the company. He also engages external stakeholders in conversations about how to address inequities in research and product development processes. 

Meet the Panelists

Stacey L. Houston, II

HE/HIM | Twitter: @drhouston_II

Anne's nontraditional career path includes founding a statewide nonprofit organization, helping open a Caribbean restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, and consulting for the state of California. Her professional journey first started in the nonprofit sector, and this grounding in community cemented her focus on building inclusive and equitable user experiences since transitioning over to the tech sector more than a decade ago. During her time at Airbnb, Anne has been a UX research lead and manager, product manager for in-home accessibility and anti-discrimination, and currently serves as Head of Platform Equity Programs. Anne has a B.A. in Urban Studies, with an emphasis in Community Organizing, from Stanford University. 

Meet the Panelists

Anne Diaz

she/her | Linkedin:/in/annedia

Sharon Bautista is a Chicago-based user experience researcher and designer, currently Research Strategy Director at Designit. She has led design and research teams agency-side and in-house. Sharon gives talks regularly and teaches courses on topics related to inclusive design and organizational change. Since 2012, Sharon has also been an organizer of the UX Book Club of Chicago with over 2,000 members.

Meet the Panelists

Sharon Bautista

she/her | TWITTER: @HAPPY_STOMACH

Design has long been wielded as a tool of abuse, surveillance, and inequality. What does it take to dismantle the design ideologies and practices that maintain this status quo? This panel brings together abolitionists and activist designers who strategically use their craft as a form of resistance. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ How do we maintain our energy for resistance in environments that expect assimilation?

+ How do we dismantle our "inner cop"?

+ How do we design affordances subversively?

#3: Design as Resistance

Sarah Fathallah is an independent designer, researcher, and educator, who specializes in applying participatory research and design to the social sector, with impact-driven clients like the International Domestic Workers Federation, the International Rescue Committee, and Open Society Foundations, to name a few. Sarah is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris, where they studied International Business and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Affairs. Sarah also studied design innovation at the Paris Est d.school, User Experience design at General Assembly, and participatory design at MIT.

Sarah Fathallah

THEY/SHE | Twitter: @SFATH

Daly is a technologist with the Hacking//Hustling network. She has organized, participated in, and led grassroots movements for over a decade, the later half of which has been spent utilizing her skills as a cybersecurity and digital technologies consultant. She daylights as a staff technologist at a digital civil liberties nonprofit. 

Daly Barnett

SHE/her

Ploipailin is the founder of antiracistby.design – a team that helps design technology businesses and products that are – you guessed it! – antiracist by design. She's also a contributor to the akin – a research and insights studio that delivers radically progressive qual and quant insights to teams like Nike, adidas, and Electronic Arts (EA); and Worker Info Exchange – Europe's largest workers' data rights organisation fighting for fair treatment of gig workers.  

Ploipailin Flynn

SHE/her | TWITTER: @ploipailin

Meet the Panelists

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Let's lean into both together.

There is plenty to critique — but there is plenty to hope for too. 

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