Enabled By Design Athon

Enabled by Design-athon wrap up.
University of Technology, Sydney
Cerebral Palsy Alliance and UTS held Australia's first Enabled by Design-athon.

The inaugural Sydney Enabled by Design-athon was hosted by Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the University of Technology, Sydney on the 25-26 July. The event was a great success. The event’s program is based on (and supported by) the UK organisation, Enabled by Design and was sponsored by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.
The goal of the event was to raise awareness of the needs of people with a disability and inspire Australia’s mainstream design and technology community to embrace universal product, technology and service design.
The 2014 Sydney event was the third involving a major world city, following the first event in London, England (2012) and the second event in Washington DC, USA (2013).
The event began with a number of Lightning Talks. Keynote speakers included Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design (UK), Dom Campbell from FutureGov (UK) and Marc Irlandez from UCP Life Labs (USA) who all extolled the virtues of “universal design” and the “design thinking” process. They presented case studies related to their work overseas.
Cain Beckett, an Australian business architect from PwC, spoke about the untapped and growing Australian market for products, services and technologies for people with a disability – particularly with the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The main ‘Challenge’ stage of the event took the 120 willing participants, including UTS design students, design industry practitioners, technologists, engineers, disability professionals and people with a disability, for a fast-paced 24 hour ‘maker fest’. Participants joined teams to develop a prototype to support the independence of a person with a different type of disability.
I was blown away by the empathy, creativity and execution of the 12 groups to arrive at creative solutions which were presented in the ‘Show’ judging session. However, the event was not about the solutions but was about the process to arrive at meaningful, worthwhile outcomes.
The event was very successful because every person participated wholeheartedly, worked incredibly hard and had a ton of fun along the way while being guided through the important Design Thinking and Human Centred Design processes. Everyone relished the opportunity to design with, and not for, the end-user on their team – the person with a disability.
Globally recognized experts in Universal Design provided mentoring and invaluable feedback on the practical application of the design thinking process and on the resulting outcomes (including judging final presentations). Through this everyone gained a greater sense of the importance of universal design (and applying Design Thinking) and its relevance in providing solutions.
The event was supported by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the University of Technology, Sydney. A showreel is available on Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s YouTube Channel and all of the Lightning Talks will also be available there in the next few weeks.
Enabled by Design is creating a toolkit available on Creative Commons that will allow any organisation in any country to run an Enabled by Design-athon.
For more details about the Sydney event, please contact Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Innovation and World CP Day Project Manager, Robyn Cummins T: 02 9975 8712.

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