Faculty perspectives on interprofessional collaborations between occupational therapy and industrial design

A qualitative ethnographic inquiry





Incorporating a user-centred approach to universal design solutions improves functionality and access for a more diverse group of individuals to engage with end products within everyday environments successfully. Interprofessional collaborations between industrial design and occupational therapy are one approach that integrates a user-centred universal design perspective throughout the design process, as occupational therapists have unique expertise in understanding how individuals participate in activities and engage with everyday products and environments. This qualitative ethnographic inquiry explored faculty perspectives (n=5) involved in interprofessional academic collaborations between design and occupational therapy at the university level in the Northeastern United States. Five themes emerged: 1) “Benefits of Collaboration:” Improving the Design Process; 2) “Benefits of a Mutual Approach:”: Supporting Design Learning; 3) Interprofessional Awareness and Education Approaches “Help and Hinder” Collaboration Efforts; 4) Benefits and Challenges to Accessing: “Navigation of the Obstacle Course”; and 5) “Minding the Gap:” Professional Education and Training. Findings suggest that interprofessional collaborations between occupational therapy and industrial design via an embedded model positively impact design outcomes and influence student and faculty learning during the design process, clarify educational objectives, and prepare student industrial designers for future professional practice.

Author Biography

Kimberly Mollo, BFA, OTD, OTR/L, Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Kimberly Mollo obtained her bachelor of fine arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 1991, her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in 2006, and her doctorate in occupational therapy from Chatham University in Pittsburgh in 2015. She is a full-time Associate Professor at Jefferson in the Occupational Therapy Department. Prior to becoming an occupational therapist, Dr. Mollo had an active 15-year career as a freelance graphic designer. During her design tenure, she was employed as an in-house staff designer at various center city design firms and marketing departments within The Vanguard Group, The University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Drexel University. As Senior Graphic Designer at Joel Katz Design Associates, she specialized in information design, wayfinding signage, identity branding, and promotional print design for clients such as PennDOT, The Center City District, Germantown Friends School, and Richard Saul Wurman. From 2012 through 2016, Dr. Mollo partnered Jefferson’s Occupational Therapy Department with the University of the Arts' Industrial Design Department to engage in novel interprofessional collaborative experiences. In 2016, she migrated her collaborative work to Jefferson's East Falls Industrial Design (ID) and Graphic Design (GD) Departments to further grow this type of innovative programming. She currently serves as a Faculty Mentor for Center City OTD students who are embedded in both the ID and GD programs for their Doctoral Capstone Experiences. She also coordinates and manages various other collaborative opportunities occurring in tandem with Philadelphia's Parks and Recreation Commission. Dr. Mollo's other passion is working with children, adolescents, and young adults experiencing executive functioning deficits, motor planning disorders, visual perceptual disorders, non-verbal learning disorders, ADHD, anxiety, mood disorders, developmental trauma disorders, and high-functioning autism. She aims to improve the quality of life for those experiencing significant mental illness (SMI) with the belief that all individuals, with the right supports and opportunities, can successfully participate in everyday tasks and meaningful activities.


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How to Cite

Mollo, K., Peterson, M., & Brown, R. (2022). Faculty perspectives on interprofessional collaborations between occupational therapy and industrial design: A qualitative ethnographic inquiry. Journal of Accessibility and Design for All, 12(1), 76–115. https://doi.org/10.17411/jacces.v12i1.360