February 8: Accessibility, Mobility, and Design

Accessibility, Mobility, and Design event details

Wednesday, February 8 | 2 PM to 3 PM EST | GC Room 9100 (Skylight Room) | RSVP
Twitter Chat: @FuturesED#fight4edu

Live stream:
Live captioning:

Google Doc:
The Graduate Center has a wheelchair accessible entrance at the southeast corner of 35th St. and 5th Avenue. If you need any accommodations to be able to participate comfortably in this event, please contact us at

Description: Join the Futures Initiative on Wednesday, February 8 from 2-3 for Accessibility, Mobility, and Design, a conversation about the meaning of mobility and the role of design as a process that can cultivate a culture of accessibility that goes beyond accommodations. Sara Hendren (Olin College of Engineering) and April Coughlin (SUNY, New Paltz) will discuss physical, structural, and attitudinal barriers within and outside of the classroom, that shape access to education for students with disabilities. The discussion will be moderated by Jessica Murray (Futures Initiative Fellow, GC Doctoral Student in Human Development). Space is limited, so please RSVP if you plan to join us. If you need any accommodations to be able to participate comfortably in this event, please contact us at

This panel is the fourth in this year’s series The University Worth Fighting For. This series ties student-centered pedagogical practices to institutional change, race, equality, gender, and social justice.

After the event, between 3-4pm (EST), HASTAC Scholars Christina Bosch, Jen Polish, and James Hammond have prepared a Twitter chat where we will focus on questions of intersectionality and what might be at stake in today’s political environment. Please join us via hashtag #fight4edu!

2:00 – 3:00 In person and live stream event
3:00 – 4:00 Reception & Twitter chat

This event is co-sponsored by the CUNY Disability Scholars, GC Digital Initiatives, and the Center for the Humanities.

Panelist Bios 

Sara Hendren is an artist, design researcher, and assistant professor at Olin College. Her work engages adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. Her work has been exhibited in the US and abroad and is held in the permanent collection at MOMA (NYC), and her writing and design work have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, FastCo Design, and on National Public Radio (US), among others. Work at various stages includes ramp design for wheelchair users and skateboarders; low-tech assistive devices; the long-running Accessible Icon Project, which she co-founded; and a book on the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, out from Riverhead/Penguin in 2018-2019. She lectures widely and formerly taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. She runs Olin’s Adaptation + Ability Group and the Abler website.

April Coughlin has been a “wheeler” since the age of 6. She is an accomplished teacher, disability rights activist and former competitive triathlete, competing in several races and marathons. She earned her doctorate in Special Education with a focus on Disability Studies at Syracuse University. She is a passionate advocate for accessibility, particularly regarding physical environments. A champion of spatial access, April has a portfolio of considerations and suggestions to improve the usability of most physical locations. For years, April has also worked closely with individuals with spinal cord injuries to mentor them and ease them into their new reality. Likewise, she has worked with doctors and care providers to deliver sensitivity workshops and advice. April currently works as an Assistant Professor of Adolescent Special Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Her research is focused on disability, access, and equality, and she is committed to increasing awareness and education about the need for physical access and inclusion for students with disabilities.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309