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DIT students collaborate on Universal Design Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks

Posted: 5 December, 2016

An exhibition of universal product designs is on display at the National Museum, Collins Barracks– a project by DIT and Enable Ireland.

An exhibition of universal product designs created as part of the Community Design Challenge is on display at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks– a project by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Enable Ireland.

The designs were co-created by product design students from DIT and expert Assistive Technology (AT) users – people with disabilities who are highly skilled in the use of assistive technology.

Through the meetings at the Museum with the expert users, students worked to create design plans that address daily living challenges in creative and innovative ways. New ideas emerged for Assistive Technology solutions ranging from letter opening devices to novel ways to improve wheelchair mobility.

“This collaboration was a great experience” said Elizabeth, one of the Expert AT Users, “The students were very passionate about getting the product right for my needs. For me, it was really great to see students coming up with a really viable solution that would solve a lot of other people’s needs too.”

For the past three years, the Community Design Challenge has taken place at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks. Over the past five years more than 150 engineering and healthcare students from DIT and Trinity College Dublin, and Purdue University (Indiana, USA) have worked on creating universally accessible designs, collaborating with a panel of expert assistive technology (AT) users on design teams, supported by Enable Ireland and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI). 

“The goal of this exhibition is to raise the profile of DIT students learning with the community through innovative co-creation,” explains Bernard Timmons, Lecturer in Universal Design at DIT, “and to promote this method of working to the designers and investors of the present and future, and ultimately refine this process to improve the potential of the best designs getting to market.”

Siobhan Long of Enable Ireland says, “This exhibition highlights the importance of universal design as a means to removing social barriers for people with disabilities. Within this iconic venue, exhibiting these designs underscores the value of this work, and highlights creative ways in which challenges experienced by individuals with disabilities can be addressed through true collaboration.”

The Museum’s Director Raghnall Ó Floinn expressed how important this exhibition is, saying: “Access to the collections and exhibitions for all our audiences is integral to the Museum’s mission - this is why this project is so important and we’re proud to have this exhibition on display at the Museum - these designs and the collaborative processes by which they were produced are so relevant, inspiring and exciting.”

The Community Design Challenge is sponsored by Leckey, a Northern Irish company that designs and manufactures postural mobility devices.

The Universal Design Exhibition went on display last week in advance of December 3rd, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The exhibition will be on display from December 2016 until June 2017. Admission is free.

More information 

Short video about the Community Design Challenge 2016