CripTech: Disability and Technology in Japan and the United States - An International Symposium

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.

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This event was helped made possible by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 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.



Man ties his shoe on a prosthetic leg.

Technology has the potential to greatly improve access and the full social participation of 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 United States

Satsuki AYAYAResearcher

Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo

Valerie BLACK, Doctoral Candidate

UC Berkeley

Asa ITOAssociate Professor 

Institute for Liberal Arts, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Regan BRASHEAR, Filmmaker

Yoshihiko KAWAUCHIProfessor

Department of Human Environmental Design, Toyo University

Abigail COCHRANDoctoral Candidate

UC Berkeley

Shinichiro KUMAGAYAAssociate Professor

Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo

Chris DOWNEYArchitect

Architecture for the Blind

Ninon LAMBERTResearch Student

Tokyo University

Lucy GRECOWeb Evangelist

UC Berkeley

Grant Jun OTSUKI*Lecturer

Victoria University of Wellington

Aimi HAMRAIE*Assistant Professor

Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University

Ayako SHIMIZUPresident

Hikari Lab

Laura HARRISON, Doctoral Candidate

UC Santa Cruz

Liz HENRYFuturist


David James SAVARESE* Co-producer and Subject


Sandra SOLOVAYAttorney and Vice President of Content for Higher Education


Ian SMITH, Board Member

Project Alloy

Brent WHITEAP Director

Ala Costa Centers

Gregor WOLBRING*Associate Professor

Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary


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

3:00 | Deej  film screening (73 minutes)

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

5:00 | Conference Day One ends

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
  • Q&A

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


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.



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