Access, Inclusion + Design, Let’s Talk!

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Variation in human ability is ordinary, not special, and will affect most of us for parts of our lives. Yet, we have designed a world full of barriers for a wide range of people because of social stigma or general unawareness. From architecture to interfaces, assistive devices to universal products, successful designs are inclusive of all users needs. Accessibility is the key to inclusion.

Through this event, RISD/Brown Design For America are bringing voices from all sides of the conversation together to facilitate a direct discussion about how to design an inclusive and accessible community for all. Social, cultural and economic inequalities are still being literally built into new places. At this Eat + Speak, join Design for America in investigating how to create designs with the understanding of the spectrum of human ability!

Our panelists:
Tina Pedersen and Jennifer Larviere, Providence disability rights leaders and wheelchair users
Matthew Shifrin, creator of Lego for the Blind
James Fuschetti and Theresa McSorley, practicing inclusive designers
Leslie Fontana, RISD Industrial Design professor.

Let’s talk about access, inclusion, and design!

These events are being recorded and photographed. By attending, you give your consent to be photographed, filmed, taped, and/or recorded.


Tina Guenette Pedersen is a motivational speaker who currently runs her own non-profit RAMP real access motivates progress. Tina is a 4x cancer survivor who 5 years ago walked into a minor surgery and took a stroke to her spinal cord, she is now paralyzed from the waist down. She is Ms. Wheelchair Rhode Island 2018 and currently Elite Women of Service Rhode Island 2019. Tina devotes her life to helping others by raising awareness of accessibility for all. From talking to school age children on introduction to engaging the disability community to bullying and dealing with life’s curve balls. Tina works with all businesses, professions and first responders on all areas of communication and best practices of working to include the disability community. She sits on the Governor’s commission on disability as Vice Chair and Chair of the Awareness committee. She loves the opportunity to share her story, meet new people and advocate for all.

Jennifer R Lariviere is a graduate of New England College of New Hampshire for Sports medicine. She worked at Putnam Investments as a retirement specialist until she could no longer manage a full-time position. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis MS in 2000. She went from being an active, sports oriented person to slowly lost much of her mobility and now utilizes a wheelchair for all of her daily activities. Jenn would love to make everyone aware that disability isn’t an end, but a beginning of a different adventure. She is involved with many MS groups including, the national walk and The MS Dream Center. Jenn has made many appearances for RAMP with Tina all over RI. She drives her own van and is very self-sufficient. Jenn also loves spending time with her cats and talking to new people.

Theresa McSorley is a recent graduate from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. She has a BS in Industrial Design and has been an intern at Institute for Human Centered Design for the past year. She is starting her first full time position as an Outreach and Project Coordinator. Hoping to infiltrate the innovation and start up space of Boston, Theresa is focusing on creating events, case studies, and media presence that will highlight IHCD’s expansive user/expert base as well as our years of experience designing for and with end users.

James Fuschetti is an industrial designer and alumnus of Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. Having had a family member diagnosed with a fatal illness at a young age, James grew up with an eye for universal design principles, and has spent his design career exploring the intersections of ability, technology, and design research. His previous projects have included exhibition design, contextual inquiry review, developing user interfaces, furniture design, and innovative toy and hard-goods. James currently works as an Inclusive Design Fellow at the Institute for Human Centered Design.

Leslie Fontana received her BFA in 1982 from Carnegie Mellon University and her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from the University of the Arts in 1989. She also studied at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. Through her consulting practice, les&more, Leslie designs for a variety of companies, offering product and system solutions. She has received awards from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Industrial Design Society of America, and the Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching form the Rhode Island School of Design, where she is a Professor in the Industrial Design Department. Leslie’s current research is on aging and inclusive design solution.

Matthew Shifrin is a singer, accordionist, and composer. He studies singing and Accordion at the New England Conservatory of Music. He recently had his acting debut as a blind subway musician in Mark Turtletaub’s “Puzzle”, with Kelly McDonald, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and is available for streaming on Amazon. Matthew loves helping blind people enjoy previously inaccessible forms of entertainment. He and a friend created a system of text-based instructions which let blind people build Lego sets independently. The system has been featured in Popular Science, MentalFloss, Time for Kids, Msn, Aol, and on YouTube, where PBS’s Documentary “How Lego Helps Blind

People See” has received over 85000 views. He’s now collaborating with Lego to generate text-based instructions using artificial intelligence.
With an engineer from the MIT Media Lab, Matthew started Project Daredevil, a start-up which creates Virtual-reality comics for the blind using 3D sound, and a motion simulating helmet, which affects the vestibular system, simulating motions such as flipping and flying. Matthew’s TED talk on creativity and accessibility is available here: