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Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

Disability, Design & Innovation; an MSc for change-makers

Dr Youngjun Cho

Associate Professor at UCL Computer Science & Interim Programme Director of MSc DDI & Computer Scientist

As interim programme director, it is an honour to welcome students into our pioneering MSc programme. There are over 1.2 billion people globally with a disability - 80% of which are in the global south. This number is much higher when it comes to invisible disabilities.

Throughout COVID-19 people with disabilities have been disproportionately excluded. Global supply chains have been disrupted particularly in low and –middle income countries, affecting both access to assistive technology (AT) and service provision. Building back from the pandemic, it is essential to improve accessibility of AT and main stream technologies as well as inclusion in all facets of society. There has never been a more important time for Disability Innovation. Join us to strive for global solutions together.

MSc in Disability, Design and Innovation

Launched in 2019, the MSc Disability, Design & Innovation (DDI) is looking forward to its fourth year, running this year at the centre of UCL East.

The DDI MSc is the flagship programme hosted by Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub, part of UCLIC and UCL Computer Science, and the world’s first and only WHO Collaboration Centre for Assistive Technology) which brings together world leading expertise in disability, technology, and innovation from its three founding partners: UCL, Loughborough University London and University of the Arts London.

This pioneering MSc programme, awarded by UCL, sits at the leading edge of disability innovation, providing students with the skills and knowledge to become change-makers in the space of accessible and assistive technology and inclusive design. Tackling global grand challenges such as inclusive innovation from a new perspective, the programme explores emerging technologies in disability and international development contexts, appropriate accessible and assistive technology production, and engineering inclusive design and systems thinking.

Our students

DDI is home to people who have vision to pave the way to address global challenges and contribute to disability innovation, impacting every aspect of society to make it fairer. Our student cohorts are from diverse disciplines all bringing unique and valued experience into the emerging area of Disability Innovation. From computer science, psychology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy to user experience design, international development, product design, neuroscience, medicine, disability activism and law – this ground-breaking programme is developing the thinkers of tomorrow.

With the multidisciplinary nature of design the DDI MSc traverses, the programme enables students to view the interaction of everything from computer science to policy making, to understand and respond to real world problems though a solutions focused, inclusive lens. In 2022 this year, our new lab will open at UCL East, on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, providing cutting-edge prototyping equipment and facilities for DDI students.

Nominated for a Tech for Good award in its first year, the DDI MSc celebrates DDI students and alumni’s awards and successfully published work in international journals, magazines, and conferences, such as the ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) - turned from coursework, project-based assessment and dissertation. For example:

  • Kate Mattick (19/20 cohort) won RSA Student Design Award with ‘Chat-e-Cycle', proposing the design of a tandem bicycle linked to a community scheme allowing residents to unite on a side-by-side experience for transport, exercise and social connection in rural areas.

What our students say;

“As a disabled person, DDI offered me the skills to solve problems in the world that I encountered. Solving them not just for me, but for everyone else in the future. My background was in Psychology, I had no programming experience, and I was unsure about how good a fit my skills would be for the programme, but DDI is so broad and varied that you can flourish with almost skills that you bring to it. Whether your strengths are in thinking creatively, or doing research, or in business, this course has something for everyone. It is a complete kit for bringing your vision into reality, and the skills you learn will be useful for whatever you go on to do.”

Change the world starts here. Join us.

Published works by Disability Design and Innovation MSc students include:

  • A DDI alumna (Akriti Pradhan) and the project supervisor gave an invited talk at the 2nd Conference of the International Society of Cosmetic Therapy in Japan (11 November 21). The title of the talk was: Inclusive Beauty: Cosmetics for Blind and Low Vision Consumers