Qazi Fazli Azeem, MFA ’14

thesis abstract

Name: Qazi Fazli Azeem, MFA ’14

Current Title: Assistant Professor, Media Science Department, SZABIST University (Karachi, Pakistan)

Thesis cover

Information overload is a common symptom of too many media outlets and choices on the internet. Through my self-advocacy for Autism in South Asia, I wanted to simulate the experience of “sensory overload” among learners on the Autism spectrum. The use of technology in educational media has evolved from being a political tool of governments to the click-through-rate of search engine optimizers and websites targeting users with advertisements. As freedoms and choices are being challenged in the new frontier, new media has responded by accelerating the distribution and consumption of online content. Increasing internet censorship in developing countries such as my native Pakistan, continues to distort perceptions of culture and reality, insulating youth from free online educational materials. My role as an educator for design technology overlapped with online activism for educational inclusion and internet freedom. Living and working in a culture of self-censorship, online proxies and anonymous web browsing tools challenged me. Education has become a matter of perception, everything changes depending on who is teaching and who is being taught. This cognitive poly-morphism is the subject of my thesis and my art. We adapt and learn through our environmental and personal lens, our biases and stereotypes that we are indoctrinated into. To overcome them is a struggle that is mirrored in biological evolution through adaptation. The desire to survive, thrive and live necessitates our change of perspective, leading to a change in how we learn. My perspective on life changed, as I learned from people on the Autism Spectrum. Through trial and error, I learned how focus on things which make a difference in the world around me. I want the observer to experience my struggle in making sense of the world. I hope this experience moves the observer towards understanding the other, the person on the Autism spectrum, appreciating inclusion through a change in their perception.

Qazi Fazli Azeem was a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan and completed his MFA in Design at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design’s Dynamic Media Institute. He was a visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab and a global design ambassador for the Interaction Design Foundation. His educational technology research was showcased at the 2014 US Dept. of Education Datapalooza in Washington D.C. Fazli Azeem is Pakistan’s first & South Asia’s only International self-advocate for the Autism Spectrum since 2006. In 2013, he spoke at a panel at the United Nations in NY on World Autism Awareness Day. His inspiration is drawn through his interest in technology, education, neuro-diversity, futurism and new media. His work draws inspiration from learning differences and neurodiversity, to create better experiences for everyone.

Download “Inclusive interfaces” (PDF, 4 MB).