Design to Improve Life

Project Leaders: Elizabeth Roberts, Simon Kinnier

Number of participants: 25

Duration: 5 days


This project aims to demonstrate – through the power of creativity and design –  the potential to tackle challenges around hidden disabilities. This project will focus on raising awareness of the different spectrum of Visual Impairment (VI).

The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design will introduce students to ‘people-centered’ design and guide and support them through co-creative workshops that put real people at the heart of the design process.

The project centres around the issue of Vision Impairment (VI) and its varying and sometimes subtle forms; and includes an open brief that will allow students from all disciplines to actively participate and explore and define themes.  With the benefit of user engagement and insight they will then be encouraged to work together and develop potential interventions and solutions that address the perceived lack of awareness around many VI conditions.

On the first 2 days, before the group work starts, the students will hear the diverse stories and experiences of people and experts from the VI community and gain an insight into the condition and the day to day challenges they face.

Outcomes can be creative and imaginative and can develop organically throughout the week, but potential directions for intervention could be, for example, designing a new symbol/visual cue to signify that you are partially sighted or devising a low-budget but effective campaign. The design choice is yours.

Project Aims

To introduce students to inclusive design concepts and methods. To creatively explore the potential of designing and researching in people-centered ways.


Day 1- Explore

Inspiring day of introductions; students will hear from guest speakers from the VI community presenting key insights on the core issue, and from expert practitioners in inclusive design.

Using creative activities/icebreakers to get to know each other, form teams and generate initial problem statements, hypothesis – and in response to the open brief – concepts for services, applications or products..

Day 2: Define

Public speakers from the Vision Impairment (VI) community share their human stories. The opportunity for students to interact directly with people with a Vision Impairment (VI) and further develop their ideas for a service, product, or campaign.

Day 3-4 Develop

Project development, supported by staff from The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and VI community.

Day 5: Deliver

Put together presentations (in chosen format); and present to whole group and an expert judging panel. Drinks after!

Future Opportunities: This project will be the first collaboration between the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. The intention is that further projects can develop building on this initial collaboration. Therefore, if they wish to, students may have further opportunities to develop work in this area.