A Talk in Search of a Home

I was recently invited to speak at a major conference. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw my participation. Now, my talk needs a home!

I recently submitted a talk to a major conference coming up in April 2020, and was delighted to be invited to speak. Unfortunately, as the conference doesn’t cover travel expenses, I decided to withdraw my participation (there’s another article to be found in this).

However, I’m passionate about this subject, and I’m excited to bring this talk to life, so I’m looking for another conference or speaking opportunity that would be a good fit.

Here’s the abstract! If you’re an event organizer and if it sounds like a talk you’d like to hear, send me a message today at hello@quinnkeast.com!


Happy Side Effects: Challenging Ourselves to Keep Our Future Realities Accessible

The short version

The digital space continues to evolve at an incredible pace. For those of us living with disabilities, new technology can herald new eras of inclusion and accessibility—even if it’s just a happy side effect. Unfortunately, monumental jumps can also leave us behind as new technology is used to bring back old routines while reigniting the behind-the-scenes battles around the business case for inclusive design.

As a UX designer living with profound hearing loss, Quinn Keast will share his deeply personal story of cyclical inclusion and exclusion as technology evolved. He’ll present his theory that we’re entering a new era for inclusion and accessibility through technology – and why we must challenge ourselves to challenge what’s to come.

The long version

This talk is a look back on my own experience growing up with technology while living with profound hearing loss, and the distinct eras of inclusion and exclusion created by monumental leaps in technological capability.

I grew up right as the internet was becoming big. As a happy side effect of the early days of the internet, the world became accessible to me: MSN messenger and its ilk, SMS messaging, and text-based forums were my nirvana. This era, to me, represented excitement, hope, and optimism.

Unfortunately, as we took the next big leap in technological capability, we used new technology to go back to “the normal” ways of doing things. Take video calls: suddenly, interviews and meetings required people to hear each other over video.

Or, we used new technology to offset responsibility onto individuals, rather than ourselves as product creators.

The way we do things in the world and at work shapes how people perceive ability, and this era reinforced a perception of “can’t do.” Rather than excitement and hope, this new era represented frustration and exclusion. The happy side effects were lost, because they were just that – barely-recognized side effects.

But, I think this is cyclical. Lately, I’m feeling a lot of the same things I did when the internet was first exploding into the public consciousness: excitement, hope, and optimism. I think we’re at the beginning of a new era of inclusivity and accessibility – as long as we recognize it and embrace it, and challenge ourselves to maintain it.

The conference theme touches on senses, and how our work shapes what people perceive and have available to them. With AR and VR around the corner, we’re at the cusp of another technological leap.

I want to challenge each of us to challenge what’s to come, and to anticipate who we might be leaving behind. What potential happy side effects exist in our world today? How can we make them more than a side effect, and challenge ourselves to avoid another cycle of exclusion?

What will attendees gain?

This talk is for everyone. It’s a very personal look into the impact of technology, and technological evolution, on someone living with hearing loss, for both the better and for the worse.

Attendees will be challenged to recognize how big leaps in technological capability can often leave people behind. We’re facing one of these big leaps right now with AR and VR right around the corner, and as we bring these new realities forward, we have to make sure we’re not leaving anyone behind.

It’s also an inspiring reminder of the potential positive impact of our day to day work. While we have a lot of talks going around right now about the need to remember the potential negative effects and ethical implications around technology, there’s also potential for “happy side effects,” and we should seek those out and embrace them when we find them.

In the end, this talk is pragmatic, personal, and positive.


Interested? Send me a message today at hello@quinnkeast.com!

  • Accessibility
  • Community
  • Speaking