To Stacy Branham, people with disabilities are the original life hackers—and that’s a bad thing. The University of California, Irvine computer scientist doesn’t think anyone should have to be a MacGyver just to get through life. Marginalized groups often adapt apps and gadgets to suit their needs. In the 1950s, for instance, visually impaired people manipulated record players to run at higher speed, allowing them to “skim” audio books for school or work; today, browser extensions that hasten videos have the same effect. Branham wants to use similar insights to design better products from the start. “Innovation is having the right people in the room,” she says.
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