Designing an integrated living with Persons with Disabilities


The workshop participants developing prototypes to help persons with disabilities overcome their challenges. UNDP/Nami
The workshop participants developing prototypes to help persons with disabilities overcome their challenges. UNDP/Mohamed Lotfy

Imagine a person with a certain disability trying to enter buildings in Cairo, ride a train, go on a 50 centimeter pavement that is completely inaccessible or take a stroll in the streets. Is it possible to guarantee it without the hassle, the difficulty and especially, without the danger? These challenges may seem fairly simple, but in fact they are complicated and intricate matters that persons with disabilities find difficulty to manage on their own, day in, day out. Persons with disabilities encounter tremendous challenges in transportation, jobs, education and other integral aspects of life.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Fab Lab Egypt and Misr El Kheir Foundation held a 3-day workshop in Cairo titled ‘Design for integrated living’, focusing on the integration of persons with disabilities in the society, inclusion in decision-making, through generating ideas and simple, cost effective prototypes.

Highlights:

  • Persons with disabilities encounter tremendous challenges in transportation, jobs, education and other integral aspects of life.
  • Wide range of participants gathered and showed the utmost passion and commitment to produce tangible solutions that would aid persons with disabilities in leading an easier, inclusive and integrated life.

Wide range of participants; persons with disabilities, family members of persons with disabilities, student engineers, techies and designers, gathered and showed the utmost passion and commitment to produce tangible solutions that would aid persons with disabilities in leading an easier, inclusive and integrated life. Through the workshop, they worked together and came up with solutions, creating an atmosphere of inclusion, sense of community, and eliminating the 'I know better' component.

Prototypes included an actual miniature, fully operational sliding door to make bathrooms accessible for persons who are physically impaired, and a clear, well-structured media campaign on how to promote and mainstream sign language, as well as an interactive gaming machine for public areas, where one can see him/herself through a camera and try to echo the signs that is shown.

“…We have seen ideas created that would suit all the disabilities. Like visual disabilities, we know how to identify currency or colors or the street with these ideas." said Mr. Khaled Hanafy, Accessibility and Technology Empowerment Manager, National Council for Disability Affairs and one of the workshop participants.

As a follow-up action of the workshop, Misr El Kheir Foundation will provide support to each of the group's prototypes, and will host a 2-day training on innovation and entrepreneurship in December for all participants.

The technological prowess, the commitment and the innovation of the participants in this workshop were remarkable; there was a sense of entitlement and empowerment, where participants started to feel that the solution is not so farfetched, yet, it lays in their hands and not others.