New products will be designed to assist people with disabilities and will have universal design appeal for all. Following in the footsteps of the UK in 2012 and Washington in 2013, this will be the first time the Enabled by Design-athon will be held in Australia. Sydney’s University of Technology, in partnership with Cerebral Palsy Alliance, brings this event downunder, and representatives from a range of disability organisations will also be involved.

Over a two-day period, 12 teams of 10 people will be formed – made up of industrial design students, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, technologists, creatives, corporates and, most importantly, a person with a disability, totalling 120 participants in all – in order to be challenged to design and produce a product to assist people with a disability that will also have mainstream appeal.

“We’re creating a movement for accessibility for the masses so that mainstream products work for as many people as possible, including those with disabilities and older people,” said Denise Stephens from UK-based, Enabled by Design. “The Design-athon will challenge people’s preconceptions of assistive equipment and technology, showing how these products can be personalised, purposeful and beautifully designed!”

To help generate design ideas, teams are involved in an ‘empathy stage’ where they walk in the shoes of the person with the disability in order to gain a greater understanding of how their disability impacts upon their daily lives and routine. One of the most interesting parts of the Design-athon, this empathy exercise is an ideal way to promote understand for design professionals to generate ideas that will have a real impact on those who need them.

The idea of this fun and fast-paced challenge is to inspire the mainstream design and technology industries in Australia to embrace ‘design for all’, a universal design approach that includes not only the mainstream but also people with disabilities. A judging panel will select the winning prototypes, which will hopefully make it to production on the open market.

“Whether you’re an industrial designer, maker, techie, have an idea or itch that you want to scratch, or someone with a background in disability care and you’re interested in making amazing stuff, then we want to hear from you!” says Stephens.

Those who attend will hear lectures from various industry professionals and innovators and, once in teams, will be given a challenge based on a different type of disability to learn how great inventions can truly change lives.

Participants will be treated a social and networking evening hosted by the Commonwealth Bank at its Darling Quarter rooftop function area on Friday night, which is a separately ticketed event.

Sponsored by the Department of Family and Community Services, the main event is free of charge but places are limited so book online.


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