Conference Program

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Rosenfeld Media Invites You to Join us for an Evening of Expert-Led Virtual Roundtables on Civic Design

Sign up to participate in one of 10 virtual roundtable discussions, each facilitated by the knowledgeable speakers and sponsors who will be presenting at this year’s conference.

We hope you’ll join us as we Meet, Mingle, and Muse on what Matters Most. It’s the perfect appetizer before you dive into the three day feast that is Civic Design 2022!

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We invite you to join us in kicking off the Civic Design 2022 Conference with a very special pre-conference event, featuring opportunities for networking with your colleagues in the Civic Design community, discussions of important issues affecting the practice, and networking with our speaker and sponsor thought leaders and your peers.

Guests will participate in an evening of virtual roundtable discussions, facilitated by the knowledgeable sponsors or speakers who will be presenting at this year’s conference. Each roundtable will dive deeply into a critical Civic Design topic, after which all of the guests will come together, share their takeaways, and network!

We hope you’ll join us as we Meet, Mingle, and Muse on what Matters Most. It’s the perfect appetizer before you dive into the three day feast that is Civic Design 2022! 

RSVP ASAP – space is limited!

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If we seek to build effective, trustworthy public institutions, we must look for opportunities to affect change with design in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. It’s important to focus on designing great customer experiences. But equally as important and perhaps less visible are the experiences of government employees with heavy workloads and scarce resources, internal systems, processes and data sources, as well as infrastructure and platforms that are prerequisites for building great products. These factors shape the ability of institutions to effectively do their work. And they are areas ripe for design.

Public servants and civic technologists have an important role in restoring trust in our institutions. By building services that provide equitable access to benefits, seamless transactions, and streamlined user experiences, we have an opportunity to strengthen confidence in our government’s ability to serve people’s needs.

Drawing from nearly a decade of experience supporting digital services—from rebuilding HealthCare.gov to launching integrated benefits programs nationwide– attendees will learn how Nava practices design within critical, yet often unseen scenarios, enabling the government to deliver transformational digital services to millions of people across the country.

Theme One—The Decade Cycle: 10 Years Back, 10 Years Forward

What have we learned from the last 10 years? And what do the next 10 look like? How do we continue to break down silos and institutionalize design?In the span of 10 years, what was once new and agile becomes bureaucratic and baked into the system. There can be a multitude of political shifts. Leadership changes cause rapid change in priority, growth, and direction. And the thing that was once new and experimental might not be the vehicle for change anymore — another reformation is needed.

What have we learned from the last 10 years? And what do the next 10 look like? How do we continue to break down silos and institutionalize design?In the span of 10 years, what was once new and agile becomes bureaucratic and baked into the system. There can be a multitude of political shifts. Leadership changes cause rapid change in priority, growth, and direction. And the thing that was once new and experimental might not be the vehicle for change anymore — another reformation is needed.

Civic design is a young field with old roots – and we forget those roots at our own peril. This talk will be a narrative survey, starting with activists challenging the design of public spaces in the 60s, and will trace a fifty year arc from those roots to the language of accessibility we use today so often in the public sector. We’ll cover organizations, private and public, that have shaped the field, and end suggesting what we owe ourselves for the next fifty years. A reference guide for early careers, and a deeper contextualization for someone later in their career.

You can move much faster when others have paved a way. About a decade later than others, our federal-level government digital service unit only started in late 2020, during the pandemic. It’s growing rapidly now, expanding to 120 people by the end of 2022, and taking shortcuts thanks to other units elsewhere. Magdalena will share what the team achieved by building on the experiences and outputs from other international digital service units, how planting the seeds through a fellowship program was pivotal as an enabler, and where they want to be by 2030.

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In 1993 Don Norman coined the phrase User Experience (UX), suggesting software be built with user’s needs at the core. In 2001, Agile was formally introduced as a framework to accelerate and improve software development. We’ve come a long way in 20 years, but there’s often still questions about how UX and Agile fit together. In this session we’ll share best practices we’ve found helpful in creating alignment, managing workflow, and improving outcomes.

The goal is not to endorse a specific framework but to speak broadly to agile concepts and their application for UX practitioners in navigating the Agile landscape.

Depending on where you are in the world, there are several reasons why civic design has become a valuable methodology for governments. Within the scope of our work in Istanbul, We will talk about increasing the capacity of institutions producing and providing public services to create innovative services, system design, and adapting civic design models to innovative service development processes for local governments in developing countries.

Four female leads at Coforma reflect on their first year in civic design: a Product Design Lead, a Design Research Lead, a Content Design Lead and a DesignOps Lead. Using diaries, they’ll journal about their prior experiences (10 years back), their first year at Coforma, and postulate on the 10 years ahead. Framed in their respective areas of practice, our four panelists will discuss design as discipline, as experience, as architecture and as vehicle for revolutionary change. We hope to uncover multi-potentialities within the civic design and technology space that could influence endless improvements within the private sector.

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Many organizations struggle with justifying and prioritizing accessibility. One of the primary reasons is because they’re thinking about accessibility all wrong. Instead of a checklist, a list of legal requirements, or a set of shackles holding designers and developers back, it’s time to start thinking of accessibility as what it is: an opportunity to innovate!

In this presentation, Fable will draw from our expertise helping organizations like yours start the accessibility journey, to change the way you think about disability, assistive technology, and accessibility. We will demonstrate that accessible products are more flexible, customizable, and useful for all users. We’ll also show you how accessibility is directly tied to the creation of many of the most exciting and innovative technologies of the last 50 years, and how it’s changed the entire world for everyone. This presentation will inspire you with the information and ideas you need to accelerate your accessibility journey.

The design industry’s relationship to the field of business has long been established and continues to become further entangled each year. But designers aren’t just satisfied with only disrupting the business sector—they’re keen to disrupt the social sector too. Unfortunately, the weaknesses baked into the discipline of design (that have been present from the start) are readily exposed when designers enter complex social issues and treat them like any other human-centered innovation challenge. The lack of a moral framework, let alone a set of ethical guidelines, put designers at great risk of doing more harm than good.

In Australia, the public sector is marred by a legacy of efficiency-driven systems that put some of Australia’s most vulnerable at risk. The outcomes of recent Royal Commissions triggered by these failures suggest that the public sector is moving into a new era. Project proposals now require ethnographic research and meaningful collaboration with people who have lived experience of systems failure. We will share our trajectory as a ten-year-old design organization advocating for and driving these practices, recent project case studies about mental health reform and co-production, and a series of provocations about the path we see ahead.

Wrap-Up

Please join the hostess with the mostest, Rebecca Blakiston for a fun, informal evening of making connections with some of the coolest Civic Design Cats in the field.

Whether you are currently on the job hunt, seeking advice about professional growth, or simply hoping to learn more about your co-attendees, this event is an excellent opportunity to expand both your knowledge base and your network of contacts.

The format is exactly what the name suggests: with enough time to make a connection and learn something new, attendees will interact with one another in small, rotating groups!

We’ll see you at 2:30 PM PT/ 5:30 PM ET for an hour of Fast and Fun Conversations!!!

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Theme Two—Power Structures: Shifting How and By Whom Design Gets Done

Many civic designers work on a spectrum of “Design For/ Design With/ Design By” to fit the opportunity for influencing change. Some civic designers have been able to become the facilitators for communities designing their own solutions, while others are having to fight to engage the people who use and deliver the service they are working on. As these power structures continue to shift, how do civic designers navigate within their own organizations, communities, and field of practice to know when to employ the right methods? Where does design provide craft that is different from other types of expertise? How do we care for our communities, our colleagues, our teams, and ourselves as we design?

Many civic designers work on a spectrum of “Design For/ Design With/ Design By” to fit the opportunity for influencing change. Some civic designers have been able to become the facilitators for communities designing their own solutions, while others are having to fight to engage the people who use and deliver the service they are working on. As these power structures continue to shift, how do civic designers navigate within their own organizations, communities, and field of practice to know when to employ the right methods? Where does design provide craft that is different from other types of expertise? How do we care for our communities, our colleagues, our teams, and ourselves as we design?

Senseless acts of violence change lives forever. For the victims and their families, life will never be the same. But wounds, particularly those inflicted by racism and hatred, injure entire communities; and communities must find a way to move on. Civic design, practiced at a community level and led by leaders from inside, offers a generative approach to restoring agency, purpose and power. It has the potential to rekindle hope and trust, and to reclaim power, despite those who tried to take it away. This session illustrates how civic design is being used to heal an injured community.

Without relationships, qualitative research findings will be filed away and forgotten. By focusing on two core types of relationships, researchers can make their findings relevant and impactful. First, researchers must build trusting relationships with those they aim to learn from: clients of government programs, frontline workers, and community-based organization staff. And in order to do anything with the collected data, researchers must also build relationships with those who have the authority to actually improve the government programs and systems. In this session, speakers will share how they’ve realized the full potential of research through building authentic, trusting relationships to influence change.

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Most people become researchers, designers, and writers in order to make an impact. And there is no setting more impactful than the public sector, where your work can literally change the lives of millions: veterans, taxpayers, students, refugees, policy makers, and more.

Interested in making the move into the public sector? You’ll find a rich, diverse, and at times confusing landscape of government agencies at all levels, where such terms as “user experience,” “customer experience,” and “human centered design” are still relatively foreign. To get hired there and to get things done, you’ll need to understand the civic landscape and the unique constraints it places on designing products and services.

Join us for a discussion with three civic design practitioners who will answer your questions and help you decode what’s involved in understanding the landscape of design in the public sector.

As civic designers, we are adept at listening well, understanding complex interactions between people and within systems, and identifying creative opportunities. Working on teams that often comprise many disciplines, perspectives, and motivations, we must approach teamwork with intention and importance. While differing opinions and interpersonal dynamics are inevitabilities of collaborative work, our civic design superpowers uniquely position us to navigate conflict skillfully.

While tackling some of our communities’ toughest, most intractable challenges, we must care for ourselves and our teams too– so that we can live well and serve sustainably. This session will begin with guided self-reflection. We will then explore conflict navigation through a lens of mindfulness, systems-thinking, and human-centered design.

At a large U.S. federal agency, we’ve partnered across agency personnel, vendors, and contracts to build a single design culture that delivers an exceptional customer experience while meeting evolving business needs. We’ve built collaboration and critique rituals, tooling approaches, and design governance processes to organize 75+ designers into a unified practice all working together on a single, digital experience. We’ll share what worked, what didn’t, and provide a set of principles and tactics you can use right away – in any government agency – to begin building your own cohesive design practice, even when your ecosystem is anything but cohesive.

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You may be familiar with desktop screen readers like JAWS, and desktop voice control like Dragon Naturally speaking. You might know about WCAG, and popular automated testing tools for your websites. But what about mobile apps? How do accessibility techniques apply on the touch screen? As the entire world moves mobile first, your accessibility strategy needs to adapt. In this talk, we’ll introduce you to some of the changes that managing mobile-first accessibility correctly requires. We’ll cover some of the most popular assistive technologies on mobile, give you tips for automated and manual testing of your mobile apps, warn you of some of the pitfalls to watch for, and help you bring your mobile accessibility strategy to the next level.

The role of innovator and civic designer is often one that pushes for change, sees things through a different lens. However, people with marginalized identities are often challenged to be seen, heard, and make an impact in work places. We will chat about our challenges as innovators in homogeneous spaces, but also tactics and tools we can use to help diverse groups of people be champions of change in civic spaces. This session will unpack the ways in which our hidden biases can minimize the contributions of designers and how we can uplift groups of people as champions of change.

There’s scant data on how the economics of a successful civic design practice squares with its values. What’s fair pay for doing this work and a fair price to pay or charge for it? And how do you start and scale a design team that values a culture of care, transparency, and empowerment — for staff, partners, and publics — when our shared unit of value is a dollar bill? This session will provide real numbers and tools for making your team’s business model and team structure as radically collaborative, transparent, and equitable as your design product.

Wrap-Up

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The metaverse, virtual reality, Web 3.0, distributed infrastructure, the Internet of Things, wearable computing, and AI: all these things are going to change the face of accessibility over the next 10 years. In this talk, Samuel Proulx, Fable’s Accessibility Evangelist, will give you an overview of what the current landscape looks like at the frontier of accessibility and assistive technology. Where’s the research taking us? What might be coming down the pipe?

Theme Three—Physical Environments: Interactions Beyond Screens

The work of civic designers increasingly spans the blurring lines between the public and digital worlds. Designers must consider how people spend their time in and moving through these spaces as they navigate personal, family, community, and commercial needs. We’ll examine the innovative strategies, tools, and technologies designers employ to pursue equitable, inclusive, and connected public spaces.

The work of civic designers increasingly spans the blurring lines between the public and digital worlds. Designers must consider how people spend their time in and moving through these spaces as they navigate personal, family, community, and commercial needs. We’ll examine the innovative strategies, tools, and technologies designers employ to pursue equitable, inclusive, and connected public spaces.

Want to learn how to make the future you see in your mind come to life? Cut through red tape, flip limitations on their head and inspire meaningful progress in both the short and long-term by creating artifacts from the future. Artifacts from the future are designed objects or creative representations of everyday life at a different point in time, meant to persuade or challenge, develop champions and align resources. Learn how to create and share your own “preferred futures” as well as cautionary ones through artifact design with a civic design strategist, experiential designer and certified futurist.

This session examines design interactions beyond screens — supermarkets, train stations and kiosks alike — to examine the ways we’ve grafted the digital world into everyday life without bringing along the users of these tools and technologies. We’ll explore the ways that friction causes bottlenecks in the delivery of government services and how designers can use research and collaboration to uncover these pitfalls before they’re too hard to fix.

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User research helps you engage the people who will use the service you’re building, increasing the likelihood that you’ll create something that truly meets peoples’ needs. But equitable recruitment—ensuring that you’re engaging users from all walks of life—can be difficult to achieve.

Traditional user research practices often exclude people like those who don’t have access to the internet or can’t take time off work, but who might most need to access a service. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for promoting equitable research, we aim to share inclusive and respectful research practices that foster trust with research participants and government stakeholders.

Attendees will gain an understanding of Nava’s approach to conducting user research, lessons learned, best practices, and how our work contributes to more equitable access to public services for millions of people and vulnerable populations across the country. Participants will hear examples from Nava’s research and walk away with concrete practices they can implement in their work.

Providing information to public transit riders is complex. The information needs to be consistent across touchpoints and channels. Like many old, large organization ours is defined by its silos. When information is inconsistent across channels and touchpoints our organizational silos become apparent. More importantly, inconsistent information causes confusion for transit riders. While we can’t stop maintaining and improving the information in our ‘silos,’ we build bridges across them so that riders get consistent information. This approach requires us to be intentional and patient.

The complex challenges local government is tasked with addressing are often the result of national government policy or lack of one. One such challenge is the high cost of living. While working within the Tel-Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the team was tasked with reducing the high cost of living in the city. In this presentation Sarah will share a design process that engaged residents but left leadership behind, how the team overcame this obstacle to eventually engage city leadership and drive implementation of a radically innovative policy (one where local government picks up the slack in the national policy).

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As fake news floods our feeds and small businesses suffer due to disruption from startups, many tech designers are hearing exhortations to focus on ethics. There are tool kits, checklists and even a sort of hippocratic oath for designers to take. These efforts are laudable and understandable, and they can help in some ways — notably, in reducing harms of bias. But ethics also have limits because private sector capitalism is a force that is much bigger than anything that any one person can do. Instead, a countervailing force, such as the public sector, is needed to shape our technology. How might designers better understand, and even seek to work with and strengthen the public sector — whose role it is to shape society?

Alexandra is the author of the new Rosenfeld Media title, Deliberate Intervention: Using Policy and Design to Blunt the Harms of New Technology

Speakers from the conference will speak on the themes of the conference, reflecting key insights that emerged over the three days and leaving us with critical questions we can carry forward as a community and individuals after the conference.

Amahra Spence will speak on the themes of the conference, reflect back key insights that emerged over the course of the three days, and leave us with critical questions we can carry forward as a community, and individuals after the conference is over.

Wrap-Up