Top 10 inclusive solutions of 2021: the best initiatives of Ukrainian activists and foreign innovations
McDonald's app, the Carpathians for wheelchair users and an inclusive greenhouse: what solutions bring us closer to an inclusive society of equality?
What is the problem?
Our cities, socialization spaces, shops, hospitals, pharmacies… The list of places that are inconvenient and unsuitable for people with disabilities by their design can go on and on. However, the situation isn't hopeless: thanks to technology and the active people's initiative, our world is becoming more convenient and adaptable for all people. Find out what is being done in our annual selection of inclusive solutions!
What is the solution?
Jobs and avatars
An experimental cafe was created in Tokyo, where the role of servers is performed by robots, remotely controlled by people with disabilities and serious chronic diseases, for example, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The name of the establishment DAWN stands for Diverse Avatar Working Network. Robots, called OriHime-D, greet visitors, take orders, serve traditional Japanese food and burgers, and clean tables. The devices are equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers. Operators can control robots from home, while in a wheelchair or their bed, control their actions using a computer, tablet, or remote gaze control.
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An accessibility map for Kryvyi Rih to protect people in wheelchairs. And not only them
Such a map now exists in Kryvyi Rih. It has several layers, including the layer for people with disabilities, where there's information about the accessibility of the most important institutions for people with limited mobility: hospitals, local government bodies, sports facilities, administration service centers. There's also information about the inclusiveness of various business entities: shops, shopping, and entertainment centers. The map includes about 300 locations and is the first accessibility map for Kryvyi Rih. You can find the map here.
… And then the map for the entire country
The development was carried out by the Dostupno.UA organization; it has 30 cities, 800 locations, and 9 different filters. Locations can be categorized according to the level of ease of entry, toilet facilities, or facilities for parents with children. You can also download this map as an application to your phone using this link.
McDonald's implemented a unique sign language "translator" to help people with hearing impairments have a better sense of direction
Now more than 4% of McDonald's employees are people with disabilities, 64% of them are hearing impaired. They successfully work and build a career in the company. The new system provides for the assistance of highly qualified sign language translators in the video mode on a smartphone or tablet through a mobile application, acquired by the company. Communication takes place through video with a sign language interpreter, who voices everything that the hearing-impaired person says in sign language to the hearing person, and vice versa.
Tourist locations of the largest cities of Ukraine this year had temporary advertising with the slogan "This advertisement is inaccessible for a person in a wheelchair." Inaccessible advertisements were temporarily placed in locations where wheelchair access was difficult due to the lack of ramps and other features of urban infrastructure. Among such locations is Castle Hill in Lviv, the road to the Karazin National University in Kharkiv, the People's Friendship Arch, and the Park of Glory in Kyiv. A QR code leading to the Dostupno.UA website was placed on each sign with inaccessible advertising so that everyone could support the team that develops the topic of inclusiveness in Ukraine by becoming a volunteer or making a charitable contribution.
We keep learning important things
Lviv public organization Dream Workshop posted an educational video course on YouTube "Honest. Correct. Simple: Everything You Need to Know About Disability." This is a course on how to correctly speak and interact with people with disabilities, what autism and Down syndrome are, what first aid can be in crisis situations. The video series touches on socially important issues on stereotypes and prejudices that still exist in our society. The videos are publicly available at the link.
Inflatable and lightweight prostheses
Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have created an inflatable hand prosthesis, which is not only lighter than a conventional prosthesis but also several times cheaper, moreover, fully controllable. An "inflatable arm" can feel residual muscle signals to perform movements that the user intends to make: for example, pour juice from a bag or even zip up a bag! The prosthesis hasn't yet entered the market, but it's known that its cost doesn't exceed $500.
Electric trains improved: now they're more accessible
So far, only one carriage, but still. In the summer, Ukrzaliznytsia announced that it had completed the modernization of a suburban train and made it inclusive; this is the first train in Ukraine that is adapted for traveling by people with disabilities. In the new electric train, the cars are equipped for people with disabilities, have spaces for people in wheelchairs, ramps, buttons for calling the train crew, and all signs are in Braille.
Inclusive greenhouses in Vinnytsia
Thanks to the purposeful work of the Association for the Protection of Rights and Assistance to People with Disabilities Open Hearts, a greenhouse farm has appeared in the suburb of Vinnytsia, in the village of Dorozhne, where young people with severe disabilities work. Three-tier plant shelves are convenient for people working in wheelchairs. In addition, on opposite sides of the greenhouse, there is a platform where even two wheelchairs can freely pass each other. Work, the opportunity to realize oneself, communication, and consistency give people with disabilities not only the opportunity to earn money but also have a therapeutic effect. Read how it works here.
Courses that open the door to the world for people with visual impairments
In Lviv, courses for people with visual impairments IUS continue to work, which once began with educational events, and now are full-fledged courses where you can learn how to run your business or master a new profession (for example, a telephone operator), learn a programming language or just English. The first thing that is taught here is working with a computer. Students learn to use touch typing and adaptive software to help them hear and recognize what is happening on the screen. Teachers on the courses also have visual impairments, so they treat students with the utmost understanding and even help them find work after graduation.