Universal Access NY
Universal Access NY is a research project to start discussions about universal design and the importance of access for people in the disability community. Persons with disabilities face widespread lack of accessibility from public buildings and spaces, to services such as health, education, transportation, and emergency response. This project aims to educate individuals on the microaggressions and lack of accessibility of the urban living experience in a wheelchair user’s daily life. Having gathered data through first hand experiences from wheelchair users who live in New York, I was able to develop an interactive narrative game.
As of July 2019,
120 (or 25%) out of 472 total stations in the New York City Subway system are accessible to some extent.
-New York Times
Many articles has shown that there is a lack of general knowledge within the general population about microaggressions. This project uses a social awareness campaign made of an interactive narrative and an educational resource website to help bring awareness to young adults about universal design and accessibility. The narrative is a simulated journey to test the user’s knowledge about obstacles that this community faces in their daily lives. The goal of the game is to generate empathy and provide the user with access to important resources and information to deepen their knowledge and perspective.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 930,100 people with disabilities living in New York City in 2017, representing 11 percent of the total population.
-U.S. Census Bureau
30 percent of college-educated employees between the ages of 21 and 65 working full-time in white-collar professions in the U.S. have a disability
-Center for Talent Innovation
Across all age groups, the employment-population ratios were much lower for persons with a disability than for those with no disability
-U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What is Universal Design Activism?
Universal Design activism uses the concepts of universal design to create political and/or social awareness of issues that a group encounters. Activist design creates a series of questions or proposals using media to provoke, or question, or experiment political/social conditions. The point of this campaign is to bring awareness on the microaggressions of urban living for people who use wheelchairs. There are certain issues that this community faces that most people are not aware about and is usually not a tidy fix. A way to highlight these issues, I wanted to develop an interactive game to educate people on those experiences. With how the educational game is structured, it can easily be applied to create different journeys for various disabilities.
Interactive Awareness Game
The videos above highlight the initial stages of user testing of the narrative. The purpose of the game is to portray an interactive journey that simulates the stresses of the obstacles that someone who uses a wheelchair may encounter on a daily basis. The goal of the game is to generate empathy and provide the user a basic perspective of those obstacles that wheelchair users constantly face. The game also has an educational component that gives the user an opportunity to learn about why certain obstacles would be considered as microaggressions. The game is designed to motivate the user to get through the journey. If the user loses the game, there is also an explanation as to why they lost and be given an opportunity to restart the game after they have lost all their chances.