Students in design-athon to help people with disabilities

30 March 2016

This week up to 40 students from the University of Sydney will take part in a design-athon to mastermind new products and technology that could help improve the lives of people living with a disability.

Enabled by Design-athon 2016 is hosted by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Photo: Remarkable, Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Enabled by Design-athon is run by Remarkable, a division of Cerebral Palsy Alliance with support from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, and hosted in the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning from 31 March to 2 April 2016.

A large student contingent from the Faculty’s design computing, interaction design and electronic arts, and architecture programs will participate in the 2 ½ day voluntary workshop.

The students will join designers, engineers, creatives, entrepreneurs and disability services professionals from across Sydney to make up the 110 participants taking part in the design challenge.

Associate Professor Martin Tomitsch, Head of the Design Lab at the University of Sydney says the design-athon is a great opportunity for students to apply the skills they learn in their degree in real projects, and to use design to make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities.

Technology can be an enabler and a hindrance for people living with a disability, but coming up with human-centred designs and products can greatly improve access for these people in our community. This is how our students are taught to think in the design-making process.
Professor Martin Tomitsch

Peter Horsley, Founder of Remarkable, says the workshop will demonstrate how inclusive technology can transform the life of a person with a disability - with empathy the starting point of all good design.

“Disability doesn’t have to be a special category of design – it can be a lens we look through to design better for everyone. We are excited to be partnering with the University of Sydney to practically demonstrate this to students, designers, makers and creators,” said Peter Horsley.

During the event, 11 teams will work through different issues that will shape the designs and prototypes for new products, services, systems and technology to assist people with varying disabilities.

Three organisations, Ability Mate, Makers Place Inc and Me3D, will create a mini prototyping lab at the workshop. A team of inventors and industrial designers will also be on hand to help teams turn their designs into prototypes using 3D printers and scanners and digital-cutting tools.

Enabled by Design originated in London in 2012. Similar events followed in Washington DC in 2013 and in Sydney in 2014. Enabled by Design-athon returns to Sydney for the second time.