Sarve Bhavanti Sukhinah/ Sarve santu Niramayah
Sarve Bhadrani Pashyanti, Ma Kashchid Dukh Bhag Bhaveta

Let every one without distinction be happy. Let every one be without any ailment. Let every one look like Arya, noble and righteous. Let there be no one to have any share of sorrow or grief.

A Sanskrit shloka from a traditional Indian Inscription with a translation in English

.........."Welcome to the Blog".........

We need your inputs for this blog to build a body of knowledge that would help in strengthening the Universal Design concept in design education and design practice in the country. We would also like to share your related projects or experiences addressing different needs of the diverse population.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jamsetji Tata-NID Universal Design Initiatives

Under Jamsetji Tata-NID Universal Design Research Initiatives, we support Universal Design approach in Design to benefit all kinds of users, irrespective of their age, ability or situation. We started with a group mail earlier and now created this blog to share our ideas on a common platform.

The instituted objective of the Jamsetji Tata-NID Universal Design Research Chair is to address developmental gaps/requirements of the society for collective socio-economic-cultural development of the country. My work at National Institute of Design started in mid October’ 2009 with a goal to address the above objective and I began with a detailed annual draft plan with a three year plan-projection. The draft plan aspires to increase the Universal Design concentration at undergraduate, post graduate and faculty research level at NID first and then gradually take it to a larger scale, at national and international level. In Oct-Nov’2009, my work concentrated on developing an overall understanding of the objects of the chair, projecting future picture and linking it with existing structure at NID. The program coordinators of different design streams were contacted to discuss the draft plan and associated possibilities & constraints. The draft plan was further discussed with the interested faculty members to generate more ideas for the implementation of the plan. The faculty interactions finally led to the formation of a Core-Group for all such discussions related with Universal Design in future.

To start with Universal Design Initiatives, a ten day Open Elective on Universal Design is strongly suggested by the NID faculties. As a result an open elective is floated on ‘Universal Design for Social Sustenance’ to be held in January’ (11th-22nd) 2010. This will be conducted by Mr. Praveen Nahar and me with the support of local NGO’s. This course would build an understanding for ‘Universal Design’ with practical exercises based on theoretical foundations and enable design students to
· Understand and analyze the impact of design on diverse ability groups
· Develop processes and proposals for generating inclusive designs

There are many past projects of student and faculties focusing on functional limitations, age or gender issues. We plan to map and publish such past projects to generate a resource that will not only benefit a larger population but will also create a link between past and present efforts at NID.

To explore the possibilities for developing a Post Graduate Programme in Universal Design, some renowned experts of Universal Design involved in educational programmes at International level are contacted to advice on developing such programmes at NID. I thank Prof. Abir Mullick, Georgia-Tech and Prof. Beth Tauke, SUNY, Buffalo, USA for their suggestions in this matter. In first week of this month, we interacted with Prof. Birgit Weller, University of Applied Sciences, Hannover and Prof. Katrin Hinz, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, Germany, to explore the possibilities of Indo-German collaboration on Universal Design, during their visit to NID, heritage campus. It was an excellent experience; we shared our past work and explored the future possibilities. We all felt the need of understanding the common concerns and develop a program to benefit students, faculties and Universal Design field at large in both the countries.

‘Universal design’ philosophy argues for wholesomeness and making weak components in the society as strong as every other part. As an approach it is not new to the Indian tradition- examples of saree, dhoti (pieces of uncut cloth that fits everyone), Anglo-Indian toilet are known to everyone. Today this spirit is lost in the process of industrialization thus making life difficult and complex for all of us, not to mention the elderly and the people with disabilities. We are not only more in number than most of western countries but are also socially, culturally and economically much diverse and thus we need to discover an approach for Universal Design that is contextually more appropriate. We intend to discuss all these issues in this forum and invite views from everyone that will make all of us better equipped design professionals.