Element of the Month: Isaac Haney-Owens

Image Description: Text on image reads “February 2024: Element of the Month: Focus Group (1.0). Design Process Outreach is important to me because it allows people with disabilities to be part of the conversation from the start. It is important to include people with disabilities in focus groups because it allows them the opportunity to give their perspective on housing as a person with disabilities…” Isaac Haney-Owens, a dark-skinned man with glasses and a beard is pictured, along with the element of Focus Groups.

The Inclusive Design Standards equip designers, builders, and developers with guidelines and frameworks for disability-forward housing creation. It highlights cross-disability accessibility and design decisions that are anchored in inclusion. Each month we feature one of our partners and the Element they’re most excited about.

Name / Affiliation:  Isaac Haney-Owens / Communications Analyst / The Kelsey

Image Description: Isaac, a dark-skinned man wearing glasses and a grey shirt, is pictured.

This month’s element comes from San Francisco native and Giants fan, Isaac Haney-Owens. Isaac is the longest-running employee of The Kelsey and the team member who met CEO Micaela Connery first. In fact, they met at one of The Kelsey’s early focus group. Isaac operates on the Communication Team creating and posting social media content as well as hosting a podcast where he gets to interview prominent leaders both locally and nationally. Isaac loves the element “Focus Groups” for its deep sense of engagement and voice it gives the most marginalized of a community. In his opinion, Focus Groups allow people with disabilities to be “a part of the conversation from the start.”

Name of Element: Focus Group (1.0)

Description: Involve people with disabilities and potential future users or similar populations in focus groups / sharing feedback before design begins.

Design Category: Design Process

Impact Area(s):  Mobility & Height; Acoustics & Hearing; Vision; Health & Wellness; Cognitive Access; Support Needs

Why is this element important to you, personally or for the project?

Design Process Outreach is important to me because it allows people with disabilities to be part of the conversation from the start. It is important to include people with disabilities in focus groups because it allows them the opportunity to give their perspective on housing as a person with disabilities. It’s important for people with disabilities to give their perspective on housing because it helps to make housing more accessible and inclusive.

How did this accessibility element change (for the better) the overall project (optional)?

After giving feedback in a focus group on The Kelsey Civic Center and The Kelsey Ayer Station projects, I eventually took on a formal role at The Kelsey.  It is important to get input from people with disabilities about what is best for the project to make it more accessible.

What recommendations would you make to someone designing a disability-forward housing project (related to the design standards)?

I would recommend using the Inclusive Design Standards so the building would be more accessible and inclusive. I would also make sure people with disabilities are part of the conversation and kept in the loop. People with disabilities giving their input and feedback is important in making projects more accessible.