Disability and Technology in Japan and the United States

DECEMBER 7-8, 2018

an International Symposium




Technology has the potential to greatly improve access and the full social participation of disabled individuals in Japan and the United States. Both countries have invested considerable sums in these directions, but often this research is being conducted separately from the key stakeholders. This symposium brings together technologists, anthropologists, educators, and other researchers who are working on the nexus of technology, access, and design in Japan together with scholars, engineers, researchers, and activists in the United States for a four-day symposium and workshop in Berkeley, California, the home of the independent living movement. The majority of the participants identify as disabled people.


For an accessible version of this website, click here:


Japan + International

Satsuki AYAYA, Researcher

Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology

The University of Tokyo

Asa ITO, Associate Professor 

Institute for Liberal Arts 

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Yoshihiko KAWAUCHI, Professor

Department of Human Environmental Design

Toyo University

Shinichiro KUMAGAYA, Associate Professor

Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology

The University of Tokyo

Ninon LAMBERT, Research Student

Tokyo University

Grant Jun OTSUKI, Lecturer

Victoria University of Wellington

Ayako SHIMIZU, President

Hikari Lab

United States

Valerie BLACK, Doctoral Candidate

UC Berkeley

Regan BRASHEAR, Filmmaker

Abigail COCHRAN, Doctoral Candidate

UC Berkeley

Chris DOWNEY, Architect

Architecture for the Blind

Lucy GRECOWeb Evangelist

UC Berkeley

Aimi HAMRAIE*, Assistant Professor

Center for Medicine, Health, and Society

Vanderbilt University

Laura HARRISON, Doctoral Candidate

UC Santa Cruz

Liz HENRY, Futurist


David James SAVARESE*,  Co-producer and Subject


Sandra SOLOVAY, Attorney and Vice President of Content for Higher Education


Ian SMITH, Board Member

Project Alloy

Brent WHITE, AP Director

Ala Costa Centers

Gregor WOLBRING*, Associate Professor

Department of Community Health Sciences

University of Calgary


* Speakers indicated with a * asterisk will present remotely via teleconferencing software

Friday December 7 - Conference Day One

Open to the Public – no pre-registration needed

9:00          Coffee and Pastries              

9:15            Opening remarks: Dana Buntrock (CJS), Toru Tamiya (JSPS), and Karen Nakamura (DisStudies)       

9:30           Panel 1: Neurodiversity and Technologies of Inclusion and Access 

     9:30           Kumagaya Shin'ichiro– Introduction to Tojisha-kenkyu (User-led Research) in Japan:  Co-creating narratives within

                        the invisible minority community

     9:50           Ayaya Satsuki– Toward Inclusive Society and Culture for Autism Spectrum: Tojisha-kenkyu (User-led Research) on                                Social Majority and Accessible Information Design

     10:10          Brent White– A Neurodivergent-Designed Educational Model (NDEM): Neurodivergent-Lead Design

     10:30         Laura Harrison– Neurodivergent Co-Participatory Research

     10:50         Panel discussion and Q&A

11:30          Break

1:00           Plenaries on Inclusive Spaces and Universal Design

     1:00            Yoshihiko Kawauchi– Universal Design in Japan

     1:30             Aimi Hamraie*– Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability

     2:00           Q&A

2:30           Break

3:00p        Deej  film screening (73 minutes)

     4:15              David Savarese* - – literacy, self-determination and interdependence for non-speakers

5:00          Conference Day One ends

* Speakers indicated with an asterisk * will be attending via teleconference or telecommunication.

Saturday December 8 - Conference Day Two

Open to the Public – no pre-registration needed

8:50          Coffee and Pastries              

9:00          Fixed Film Screening (60 min) w/ introduction by director Regan Brashear

10:00         Discussion on Transhumanism, Feminism, and Crip Futurities

                     Gregor Wolbring*, Liz Henry, Ian Smith | Moderator: Franky Spektor

10:45          Plenary on Disability Centered Design

                    Chris Downey– Universal Design and the BVI Perspective


11:30           Break

1:00            Plenary

                    Ayako Shimizu– Technology x Mental Health Care -Why we do it, what we do, what we will be doing

1:45             Panel 2: Care Robotics, Human-Computer Relations, and AI

     1:45            Ninon Lambert- Who cares? Exploring the entanglements of interaction and care with social robots in nursing homes

     2:05           Grant Otsuki*- Human-Machine Interfacing as Utopian Practice in Japan 

     2:25            Disscussant: Valerie Black                            

2:45            Break

3:00           Panel 3: Crip Futurities

     3:00            Asa Ito– Disabled person’s Interaction with objects and self-governance

     3:20             Lucy Greco- Title TBA

     3:40            Abigail Cochran– People with Disabilities' Use of On-Demand Transportation Services

     4:00           Sandra Solovay- Disability Tech at the Margins: Weighing Our Options

                          Note: due to unforeseen circumstances, Dr. Miele is unable to attend

     4:20            Discussion

5:00           Closing Remarks: Karen Nakamura (DisStudies) 

* Speakers indicated with an asterisk * will be attending via teleconference or telecommunication.


ASL interpretation and CART services have been requested for the conference and films will be open captioned and audio described. The conference venue is wheelchair accessible and is located in downtown Berkeley near the Berkeley BART station.


Please do not come wearing any scents or perfumes (including essential oils) and please respect the scent-free zones in the conference area. Scented individuals (including essential oils) may be asked to move.


Please note that there will be small children and service animals present.


For all other access requests, please email


This event was made possible by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the UC Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society Disability Studies Cluster, the Robert and Colleen Haas Chair in Disability Studies, and Making Change Media

We also want to thank the SF Lighthouse for the Blind, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, UC Berkeley Disabled Students Program, Ala Costa Centers, the World Institute for Disability, the UC Berkeley Disability Compliance Office and in particular Chris Downey, Cecile Puretz, Brent White, Ella Callow, Marsha Saxton, Alex Ghenis, and Martha Velasquez for allowing site-visits to their specific locations as part of the pre-conference.


Poster design and sketch of Rose the bionic woman are copyright 2018 by Franchesca Spektor. All rights reserved and used with artist’s permission. Image description of conference artwork: A woman who has a human-looking face, forearm, wrist, and hand; she has a robotic-looking shoulder, upper arm and elbow. We see her from behind, and her face is turned to the side.




David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Suite 100
Berkeley, CA 94704

Green from the ground up, the Brower Center is a powerful model of sustainable, mixed-use development. Utilizing the latest in energy-saving technologies and recycled building materials, the Center makes as light a footprint on the Earth as possible, taking into account the true life-cycle cost of building construction, operation, and maintenance.

Designed by acclaimed architect Dan Solomon, the Brower Center follows the example of some of Europe’s most distinguished green buildings in both its contextual fit and use of innovative technologies. In so doing, the Brower Center is articulated with a distinct base, middle, and top.

The base is formed by awnings, arcades, and entrances for the various ground floor uses, while the middle of the building is defined by exposed structural columns and various light control devices. A projecting upper floor and sculpted awning structure that orients photovoltaic panels southward toward the sun delineates the building’s top.

The Brower Center has received a LEED Platinum rating, the highest possible rating from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.


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