Universal Design: An Intercultural Perspective

Bios & Handouts

Scheduled at 9:15am in Meadowbrook II on Friday November, 17.



  • Foad Hamidi, Dr. , University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


We describe how we are using Universal Design in a transnational project in which an open-source prototyping platform for non-verbal individuals and their caregivers is used to create DIY assistive technologies in Western Kenya.


Universal Design (UD) is an effective approach to creating inclusive and accessible systems and services for individuals with diverse abilities. In this presentation, we describe how we used UD in an intercultural context and the strengths and challenges we experienced. We describe how we co-designed an open-source prototyping platform, TalkBox, for non-verbal individuals in Canada and the US, and how we adapted and deployed this technology in a new cultural context, Western Kenya. This talk will be of interest to researchers and practitioners who work with individuals in different cultural contexts and are interested in questions of intersectionality and intercultural collaboration. Additionally, we share lessons learned about the possibilities of DIY assistive technology in developing contexts and in transnational projects.


  1. Universal Design applies can be used to address multiple types of diversity.
  2. Users with disabilities are situated in their cultural setting that needs to be taken into account in design.
  3. DIY assistive technologies have potential for appropriation and application in different cultural settings.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Other

Topic Areas

Assistive Technology, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Foad Hamidi

Foad Hamidi is Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Information Systems Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He specializes in the participatory design and evaluation of tangible and embedded systems, including digital living media systems, for children and adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. He is also interested in using digital media to facilitate creative and learning processes in intercultural settings for children and adults. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, Toronto, Canada.