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Review: UCD Conference Day

Blog posted by: , 18 May 2022 – Categories: UCD Conference Day.

In February we held our first Conference Day around user-centred working at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Our goals for the day were to highlight critical topics in design that we don’t talk about enough in government (or elsewhere!), and to give our user-centred design professionals a better sense of what people in prison and on probation experience, and what the job is like for people working in the probation and prison services. We want to share in this blog post some of the feedback we received for the day.

The day started off with a keynote from tech leader Ani Møller, who dialled in from Australia to talk about “Neurodiversity in Digital: designing for and working with neurodiverse people”.

It’s a very complex, but very important issue to be discussing and paying attention to in our work, as MoJ’s Chief Operating Officer, James McEwen, pointed out: “I attended the keynote session and learnt a tonne. The importance of compassionate leadership, and having a neuro-inclusive culture, is something I am working towards in my role as ExCo Disability Champion.”

Here’s how Eve Bayram, an interaction designer at MoJ, reflected on Ani’s presentation:

“The keynote session was fantastic. We always consider physical accessibility when we design services, but we need to be thinking about the impact of our choices on everyone. Sometimes design decisions might seem small, but they have a big impact. Like choosing a highly contrasting colour palette that makes somebody feel physically sick.

“These considerations are important wherever you work, but in the criminal justice system there is a higher percentage of neurodiverse people, so we especially need to take the time to listen to people’s personal stories and educate ourselves.

“What I loved most about the session was that it wasn’t just about digital services. It was about workplace culture. Ani gave some great advice about creating a neuro-inclusive culture at work and how ultimately everyone benefits from this. This session was so thought provoking and it left me feeling energised for the day and excited to learn more.”

Phoebe Brocket, also an interaction designer at MoJ, yesterday said:

“I haven't seen neurodiversity talked about much in the workplace, especially in how it relates to design, so I learnt loads and it made me excited to see MoJ-endorsed promotion of embracing differences in how we think and work — really insightful and positive!”

Next up were Filippo Cuttica, Lucia Prroni and David Etheridge from the UK Health Security Agency who talked about “Beyond accessibility: embedding inclusive design in public sector services” and facilitated a hands-on interactive workshop on their new framework.

A Heads of Profession (HoP) session gave an overview of the work the HoP team has been doing in the last half-year and finished with an open Q&A.

The 3 afternoon talks focused on lived experience of the criminal justice system:

  • Leanne Barnett  “A day in the life of a probation officer”
  • Alex Morris – “A day in the life of a prison officer”
  • Panel Discussion “What it’s like to be in prison (and then work at the MoJ)”

Karen Simpson, an interaction designer at MoJ, said:

“I wasn’t aware we had people with lived experience of prison and probation working in some of our teams until the UCD conference. I found listening to their journeys incredibly insightful. They bring a much-needed perspective to the work we do and a genuine understanding of how we can improve our services.”

Interaction designer Liam McMurray added:

“I thought the sessions were excellent. Hearing their stories really re-humanised the process — we’re always in danger of losing the people in the digital process.”

We are planning the next UCD Day for June/July — watch this space…


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