Kat Holmes

Keynote Speaker
Photo: Kat Holmes

Kat Holmes is the Director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft, where she is recognized for her thought leadership in reexamining disability and diversity as a source of innovation. Holmes was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business for 2017. At Microsoft, she leads a team of designers, strategists and researchers to improve the inclusivity of products such as Windows, Cortana, Xbox and Office. The company’s Inclusive Design toolkit that she spearheaded was described in the February 2016 issue of Fast Company as a "radical" evolution of design thinking and practices.

Holmes works with professionals across the industry in identifying potential consumers who are excluded from using their products, and redesigns solutions with the close participation of people who have a range of abilities and disabilities. This collaborative process has yielded a broad array of customer experiences including: learning tools that blend text wrapping, audio-assisted reading and personalized fonts to aid students with dyslexia as well as anyone learning a new language; and communications tools using AI to visually represent the location and intensity of a sound, but also its emotional inflection.

In recent years Holmes has experimented with ways to make filmmaking a part of the design process. Her documentary Inclusive examines the future of inclusive design for digital technology; and her two-part series Captivated by Her explores how human emotion can stimulate new interactions with technology, as inspired by the Spike Jonze film Her.

A frequent public speaker, Holmes has lectured about design for forums including the White House’s South by South Lawn, design.co, Pixar, Walt Disney Imagineering, Girls Who Code and her alma mater, the Yale School of Management. She enjoys partnering with companies, universities and students to practice inclusive design in their work.