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Julia Cassim

Senior Research Fellow, Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, Royal College of Art : UK


Julia Cassim is Senior Research Fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, Royal College of Art.
Her career as a writer, designer and researcher focused initially on making museum collections of art and artefacts cognitively and physically accessible to people with sensory or learning disabilities.
Julia studied fine art and art history, first at Manchester College of Art and Design and then at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music where she received a Japanese Government postgraduate sculpture scholarship.
From 1971-1998, she was resident in Japan. She worked as arts columnist of The Japan Times, and founded Access Vision, a non-profit organisation for visually impaired people engaged in research on alternative modes to access and interpret museum collections of art and artefacts. She also curated and designed award-winning exhibitions for audiences with visual impairments and learning disabilities. “Into the Light - Museums and their Visually Impaired Visitors”, her book published by Shogakkan in 1998, draws on this experience - work that has continued alongside her work in inclusive design with a further focus on the curation and design of exhibitions of work by visually impaired artists.
Returning to the UK in 1998, Julia joined the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre. Since 2000, her research focus has been the involvement of disabled people in the design process as a spur to innovation and inclusive thinking and the development of knowledge transfer methodologies about inclusive design to the design and business communities.
She organises the annual DBA Inclusive Design Challenge in which severely disabled people are partnered with professional design teams in live design projects to develop innovative products and services for the mainstream market. The purpose is the development and dissemination of replicable examples of inclusive design and appropriate methodologies whereby designers are enabled to understand the principles, practice and creative and commercial rationale of inclusive design and use that knowledge in their work.
Information on this can be found on the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre website (


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