2018 Universal Design Symposium


In March, Mount Ida College hosted its 3rd annual Universal Design Symposium.  This event focused on accessibility and universal design through talks by notable speakers, prototyping, and empathy building activities.

Students, design professionals, and community members with or without disabilities made up the six design teams!

These teams used design thinking to develop practical solutions that improve daily living for all. Designs were evaluated and prizes were awarded to the top ideas.


Meet the teams and their ideas.


Eleplated (Judges Choice)

Problem: Individuals with disabilities who have difficulties swallowing and/or chewing their food often need their meals prepared in a certain manner, whether that is chopped or pureed to make food easier to eat.  When going out to eat, these individual have to pack multiple bags to bring all their equipment, such as a blender, to prepare food.

Solution: Personalized dining kit that allows dining to be more autonomous and accessible.  Every kit is portable and personalized for each user.  In each kit there is a collapsible silicone riser, specialized plates and utensils, storage bag, and notes and tools that will inform the chef at the restaurant on how to prepare the meals.


The Power Stool

Problem: Individual has trouble getting to and from the floor for work due to limited mobility.

Solution: A powered lift that allows a user to transfer from his power wheelchair to the lift and lowered to the floor to work.  When the work has been completed, the lift will bring the user back up to power wheelchair height and allow for easy transfer.  The Power Stool is designed to be light, portable, and to take up a small foot print when stowed away.


Shtick Talk (People’s Choice)

Problem: “If I am going to a social event, I am being judged even before I interact with people – Because of my cane…”

Solution: A talking cane to serve as an ice-breaker.  A cane with a programmable audio device built in.  Users will utilize a website to create a community where individuals can share “wise-crack” ideas.


Universal Track

Problem: There a lot of different areas in the kitchen that are not well lit resulting in the installation of too many lights in one space with many switches.

Solution: A one-track system.  A universal friendly designed fixture that helps bring light to space where ever you are.  The lighting is automated so you don’t have to touch the structure itself it will follow you around the room.  It can be used in any room in the home.



Problem: Individual expressed that she is not able to control her TV and her lights in her own home due to her physical disability.  Many remotes she has tested are too difficult to use and finds that many “universal” remotes are not accessible to do their button size.

Solution: An app that adapts to its environment.  The app is able to be personalized and allows the user to control their TV or their lights by connecting wirelessly through Bluetooth or a separate control box.  Buttons are easy to read and to use.



Problem: Individual is unable to hold a smartphone and needs an assertive device that will help them use a phone independently.

Solution: A case that is light weight, with it’s own stand, made from a soft mold-able material, and includes a built in strap to secure the phone to the users hand.