After finishing Industrial Design, Charissa Ramirez worked as a packaging designer at the Product Development and Design Center Philippines (Design Center) from 1988 to 1996. She spent a few months in Southern Philippines, delivering design services to small business enterprises in hard-to-reach areas in Mindanao, travelling on the Design Mobile, a specially designed bus that converts into an exhibition area, workspace, and library.
Back at the Design Center, she was part of a larger group of product, furniture, graphic, promotions, and packaging designers, where they are leading and guiding the Philippines’ design industry with information on design trends, developments and technologies.
In 1993, she joined designers from Brazil, China, Thailand, and Mexico on a 3-month long scholarship studying packaging design, materials and processes, and attended workshops and study visits at packaging design agencies and manufacturers in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Japan. As part of this course, Charissa worked as an intern in a packaging design and communications agency in Tokyo, Design Mac, and was put under the tutelage of one-time Japan Packaging Designers Association President, Teisuke Mura.
In 1997, she applied for another scholarship and completed the Postgraduate Fellowship in Sustainable Technology and Product Development at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She became a design intern at Plato Product Consultants, where she was mentored by Roland ten Klooster, Plato’s principal designer. Her work with Plato resulted in a sustainable packaging and label design for a Dutch apple juice manufacturer, Jus de Pommes.
From 1997 to 2001, she taught Packaging Design and Marker Rendering to Industrial Design students at the College of Saint Benilde – De La Salle University in Manila.
In 2001, Charissa and her family migrated from the Philippines and settled in Sydney, Australia.
In 2003, Charissa taught Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and AppleWorks to design students at KvB (Karl von Busse) Design Institute in North Sydney. She then took on contract roles in desktop publishing, writing, and graphic design.
In 2013, while working for a NSW government agency she was tasked to create an accessible annual report. She took this on as a challenge, vowing to learn as much about accessibility. She requested to join the Digital Access team at Vision Australia as a volunteer. With the guidance of Vision Australia’s National Manager Digital Access, Neil King, and Digital Accessibility Consultants Gerry Neustatl and Leona Zumbo, Charissa learned about WCAG 2.0 and the techniques of how to make PDFs accessible, and the importance of providing access to people with disabilities.
She applied her new skills while working with the design and communications team at the NSW Office of State Revenue (OSR). Here she developed templates and processes and trained other designers in accessibility so that their forms and publications comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards. She also coordinated with the Communications team and the Web team to ensure the accessibility of their websites, videos are captioned, and documents that are translated into other community languages are accessible.
After her contract with OSR, Charissa continue to be involved with accessibility and digital inclusion. She is currently a Digital Mentor at leep.ngo.
Charissa has completed numerous courses and workshops on Accessibility, Inclusive Design, and more currently, Human-Centred Design (Service Design). She also delivers talks and workshops on accessibility, to design teams, and at A11yBytes and A11yCamps in Sydney and Melbourne. She was a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) until March 2017, a current member of the Digital Gap Initiative, and organiser of the PDF Accessibility Sydney Meetup.