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Creating the next generation of disability pioneers

6 March 2020

3 mins

The Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) research and practice center (based at London’s UCL) is enabling students for the first time to explore the multi-disciplinary field of Disability, Design and Innovation. Taught across three top institutions: UCL, Loughborough University London and the London College of Fashion, students will experience a fast-paced learning environment, where theory is immediately taken into practice.

An MSc for an emerging field

Only 10% of the world’s 1 billion disabled people have access to the assistive technology they need, by 2050 this figure is set to double to 2 billion. New technologies provide opportunities for scalability and access, while individuals, communities, business, and governments are increasingly understanding the importance of the disability innovation space.

To power dynamic solutions, a new generation of solution-focused entrepreneurs is required. The GDI Hub’s MSc in Disability, Design and Innovation has been developed in direct response to this pressing need, providing the skills and knowledge for students to excel within this emerging field. 

Harnessing academic excellence, innovative practice and co-creation the course brings together design engineering, global policy, product development and inclusive design within the societal context of disability.

As the first cohort of students reach the half-way point of their studies, successes are already emerging.  Under the supervision of Dr. Youngjun Cho, a talented student Katherine Wang has written an original research article: “Using Mobile Augmented Reality to Improve Attention in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. This explores the use of augmented reality technology on mobile phones as a cost-effective intervention to improve attention management skills for autism spectrum disorder. The paper will be showcased at the ACM CHI 2020 LBW Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference in this space.

Students have also been working to support the European PRIME-VR2 project, researching virtual reality (VR) technologies for people with disabilities and sports injuries, including a literature on VR technology for rehabilitation, and technology to enable disabled people to control virtual reality games.

GDI Hub is a UCL based research and practice center powering disability innovation for a fairer world. A legacy of the 2012 London Paralympics, the GDI Hub is at the forefront of the global Assistive Technology movement and currently delivering AT2030 (Life-Changing Assistive Technology for All) a £20m UK aid funded programme to reach over 9 million people by 2020, testing new approaches and backing ‘what works’ to get AT to those who need it. 

Dr Catherine Holloway, Academic Director of the GDI Hub says; “The global potential for disability innovation is huge. New technologies provide opportunities for scalability and access, but to accelerate this movement we need a new generation of pioneers. The Disability, Design and Innovation master’s is the world’s first course in this rapidly growing area of expertise. Students will be taught in a uniquely multidisciplinary environment, learning from global experts, live research projects and high-profile global collaborations. We’re looking for exceptional students with the drive and determination to push the boundaries of this new area of study.”

Funding opportunities

Three Snowdon Trust scholarships are available for disabled students to join the 2020/21 cohort; one scholarship will fund tuition and a bursary (up to a value of £30,000), and two will fund tuition only (up to a value of £15,000). The GDI Hub and Snowdon Trust and are encouraging high achieving disabled students to apply.

For further information, please visit the MSc Disability, Design and Innovation programme webpage.

For notes for editors, please see the official press release.

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