Universal Access NY

This research project focuses on the experiences of wheelchair users and aims to bring awareness to the microaggressions and lack of accessibility of the urban living experience.

To help bring awareness an interactive narrative was developed to help educate young adults in urban areas to think about universal design and accessibility.

Play Game
Learn More about the Study

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.

About 1 in 4 people with a disability will face at least one incident of discrimination every day.

-Brandon Gaille, Small Business & Marketing Advice

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.

Disability Statistics

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

The general employment rate is 70%, and only 29% of people with disabilities are employed full or part-time. The employment gap is greater in New York City than it is at the State or national level.

-Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York

People with disabilities, have higher rates of health insurance coverage nationally and in New York State,  compared to people without disabilities.

-Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York

In New York City, 52.4 percent of people with disabilities spend more than one-third of their income on rent compared with 42.1 percent of their non-disabled peers.

-Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York

Across all age groups, the employment-population ratios were much lower for persons with a disability than for those with no disability

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.

Learn More

  • New York City Is Still a Disaster for the Disabled
    Article by New York Intelligencer that is insightful about the experience of living in NY having a disability
  • How I Overcame the Stigma of My WheelchairA as-told-to account of a women who is quadriplegic overcoming an unimaginable obstacle.
  • CIDNYCIDNY (Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York) is a nonprofit organization that is the voice of people with disabilities in New York City. They offer many resources and reports regarding the community.
  • The Disability CollectionVerizon Media created a library of stock images with people with various disabilities to repicture disability stereotypes.