Co-designing the future of disability
No one understands the disability experience better than the people who live it every day—which is why UTS is calling on them to help shape a new program of disability research.
Areas of research enquiry:
- health geography
- data science and analytics
- design thinking and human-centred design
- education, employment and entrepreneurship engagement for young people
- transport mobility and security
- speech pathology and swallowing
- social interaction between people with disabilities
Inviting people with disability to co-design the products and services they need to live more fulfilling lives? It’s a novel idea—and it’s about to become reality thanks to a new partnership between UTS and Melbourne-based disability services provider Onemda.
The collaboration is based in Onemda’s newly-built innovation centre in Doncaster East, which opened in March 2019. Here, UTS researchers and people with disability, their families and carers will work together to create a research program that reflects critical areas of disability need.
“Our innovation centre is a physical space where researchers can actually sit down and talk to people with a disability and their families and carers and hear from a grassroots perspective what’s happening in their lives,” says Onemda Disability Instructor, Janice O’Connor.
“We want researchers to be able to trial and test their ideas with the end users of their products and services so that we can see what works, adjust as we need to and learn from that.”
The partnership combines two specific—but very different—types of expertise: UTS researchers bring a proven track record in the delivery of industry-focused disability services research across multiple domains. By contrast, Onemda staff and clients are the experts in lived experience—a critical component that’s often missing in more traditional research environments.
For Onemda, UTS was an obvious choice when it came to partnering with a university.
“When we were first looking to move into the R&D space and build an innovation centre, we were told early on that, look, you need to go and talk to UTS—they’re doing some really innovative stuff in NSW and across Australia with disability research,” O’Connor says.
“The openness of UTS to engage with industry and service providers like Onemda is phenomenal.”
The university has worked with a range of disability-focused companies, including Northcott Innovations, Greystanes Disability, Achieve Australia and the Council for Intellectual Disability.
These collaborations have produced everything from assistive technologies, such as a prototype for a step-climbing wheelchair, to design solutions and new frameworks and policies that guide the delivery of disability services and programs, leading to UTS’s growing profile as a research partner of choice within Australia’s disability sector.
In its early stages, the UTS-Onemda research partnership will focus on seven areas of enquiry (see box). Hosted internships and supervised student placements will also be part of the agreement.
Find out how UTS can help you design, develop and implement new innovations in the disability sector. Contact email@example.com or phone +61 2 9514 9681.
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash