My journey with Disability, Design and Innovation
When I found the Disability Design and Innovation MSc I felt as if I had discovered the capstone that would bring together all the different parts of my life under a single roof.
My name is Richard Amm and I have always been interested in a broad array of things that seemingly had very little to do with one another. I’ve done scientific research, art, disability rights campaigning, policy work, electronics and business management. When I found the Disability Design and Innovation MSc I felt as if I had discovered the capstone that would bring together all the different parts of my life under a single roof. It connects not just the things I was good at, but also the things I care about, am interested in, and bring me joy.
I was drawn to this MSc because I believe it will give me the tools to fix big problems. Having a broad skillset with disability, research methods, statistics and design thinking will help me approach things much better than any individual specialisation could. The world has a lot of complex problems and I cannot begin to address them alone. I hope this MSc will help me find the others, not just the ones who share a dream of building a better world, but also the ones who have the knowledge, skills and will to achieve it.
I feel that I have a unique professional background that I will be bringing to the MSc. I obtained a first in my BSc which was in Psychology at Greenwich University. My dissertation there quantitatively explored the underlying personality traits that predict disability prejudice. Since then, I have been working as a research assistant for the robotics lab at Queen Mary University where we are exploring technology use by wheelchair users. I am also on the Lewisham Disability Commission, a government task force set up to integrate UN human rights legislation into local council policy. I have also been a disability campaigner for many years and have excellent networks for finding disabled research participants.
A big reason that I am passionate about disability is that I experience it in my own life. I have Muscular Dystrophy and have been using a powered wheelchair for many years. I had originally eventually decided to train as a psychotherapist specialising in resilience, adaptability and chronic illness. But during my psychology training I realised that:
the problems that disabled people face are less to do with individual psychology and more to do with systems of structural exclusion and prejudice that are externally imposed on us and limit our abilities and opportunities to fully participate in society as equals.
I am excited to be starting this MSc, I have high hopes for the skills it will give me and the sorts of things they will enable me to do in the future. After the MSc, I plan on doing applied research as well as more disability-centric psychological research. I have a range of ideas for ambitious future projects, such as setting up an accessible housing cooperative and a carer cooperative. I want to develop new assistive technologies like an open-source modular wheelchair, and implement policy changes to improve equality for disabled people.
MSc Disability, Design and Innovation
The MSc Disability, Design and Innovation has just welcomed its 3rd ever cohort.
The programme offers the opportunity to study across three top London institutions; UCL, Loughborough University London and the London College of Fashion. Through this diverse masters programme students learn about design thinking approaches to solve complex problems and are equipped with skills in research, engineering and innovation.