Toward Sustainable Universal Design @ Temple University

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Universal Design takes a whole person/whole environment approach to design. The thrust is toward inclusion, and away from possible stigmatization, by designing places, processes, and products for the widest range of possible users.

However, sometimes the best solution involves Assistive Technology -- a more customised design solution that is uniquely suited to an individual and their functional abilities. Both Universal Design and Asssistive Technology work together to produce a more inclusive world.

And one program at Temple University is doing that on a global scale. As Mobility International USA (MIUSA) demonstrates worldwide, study abroad by students with disabilities is a powerful force for good in the world.

From the "Culturally Appropriate Solutions" program website:

On a daily basis, people with disabilities face numerous barriers that prevent them from participating in and contributing more fully to activities in their home, school and work environments, and their communities.

Technology has enormous potential to eliminate such barriers. When technology supports are present at an early stage, persons with disabilities are better able to develop functional skills that enhance their opportunities for inclusion in everyday community life. The proposed interdisciplinary program seeks to train advanced undergraduates, mostly juniors and seniors, majoring in school-related disciplines (e.g. speech communication, special education, physical education, recreational therapy, occupational therapy, and educational technology) in the development of culturally sensitive approaches to utilizing assistive technology.

Read a firsthand account in Jared Goyette's blog Disabilty in the Brazilian Context

Further Reading:

Promoting the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Society Through Assistive Technology: Culturally Appropriate Solutions

Mobility International USA

A Public Broadcast Sysytem (PBS) Resource on Universal Design

A PBS Resource on Assistive Technology

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