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Aids For Assisted Living Projects Benefit Both The Engineering Design Classroom And The Disabled Community

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Design for Special Services

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.191.1 - 12.191.14



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Paper Authors

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Kara Chomistek University of Calgary

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Graham Armitage University of Calgary

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Phillip du Plessix University of Calgary

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Clifton Johnston University of Calgary

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Daryl Caswell University of Calgary

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Mohamed Nazir University of Calgary

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Marjan Eggermont University of Calgary

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Diane Douglas University of Calgary

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Brigit Knecht University of Calgary

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Aids for Assisted Living: Creating a new curriculum to eliminate socially constructed barriers in disability research Abstract

Independent life becomes a challenge for individuals with disabilities when disability research and development fails to produce results that are beneficial for the disabled community. Poor research and development in disability research creates socially constructed barriers that not only offend the disabled community but also make means of attaining the maximum amount of independence more difficult. These barriers include the discriminatory actions and attitudes of non-disabled individuals as well as poor design in infrastructure, communication and transportation. Insufficient engineering and a lack of consideration of the needs and abilities of the disabled community has led to the incorporation of a Aids for Assisted Living project in a first year engineering curriculum. Engineering Communication and Design is a course that has developed two projects in collaboration with the disabled community in hopes of increasing awareness among students and staff as well as providing means for the community to be actively involved in product development and research. The first project focuses on increasing the independence of children with disabilities in play, through the design of toys and multi- functional play centers for a children’s hospital. The second project focuses on the increase of independence for adults with disabilities around the home, specifically in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room. Both of these Aids for Assisted Living projects were developed through extensive consultations with the disabled community with the common goal of starting to diminish some of the socially constructed barriers experienced in disability research. This is hoped to be achieved through student-research subject interaction as well as engineering principles and design. Engineering principles, incorporated through the foundation of the design trinity: familiarization, functionality and testing will be applied to disability design by students who will use these principles to create a fully functional prototype.


It is challenging for individuals with disabilities to get the necessary assistance they need to become fully ‘enabled,’ without surrendering their independence to those wishing to reverse the effects of their ‘disablement’.1

Insufficient access to engineering and a lack of consideration for the disabled community leads to the question addressed by this paper: Can the incorporation of engineering design education together with unsolved problems in aids for assisted living help to both overcome socially constructed barriers in disability research and provide engineering students with a meaningful experience in real world design?

Individuals with disabilities face challenges every day to acquire the necessary assistance they need to perform basic activities of daily life. For disabled individuals, independence is the ability “to perform practical tasks alone or without direct help” as well as “being able to make decisions about one’s own life, to be in charge in daily life, regardless of how this is being accomplished.”2 Independence is one of the highest priorities of the disabled community but methods of gaining this independence particularly through disability research has often been seen as bothersome and unsuccessful.1,3

Chomistek, K., & Armitage, G., & du Plessix, P., & Johnston, C., & Caswell, D., & Nazir, M., & Eggermont, M., & Douglas, D., & Knecht, B. (2007, June), Aids For Assisted Living Projects Benefit Both The Engineering Design Classroom And The Disabled Community Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2304

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