Youth Sports Direct - Ability Sports Competition
Youth Sports Direct - Ability Sports Competition

This project was developed for the Universal Design module at Loughborough University Design School, under the tutoring of George Torrens, senior lecturer at Loughborough. The aim was to design an enabling and inclusive sports product for school pupils living with physical and/or cognitive impairment.

My three final designs were submitted to the Youth Sports Direct Ability Sports Competition and the "Wavy Wall" design was showcased at the Youth Sports Trust 2015 Conference as one of the five finalists. All the products entered had to be co-designed with pupils from two special schools, Dorothy Goodman School and Ashfield Academy, which partnered with Loughborough University for the project.

Part 1 - Empathic modelling
This was a group exercise simulating a situation in which one of our peers would have a specific disability while the others would act as carers, pedestrians and observers, in order to have a closer notion of the end user's needs and daily limitations.
Empathic modelling exercise at the surroundings of Loughborough University campus
Part 2 - Visit
On our first visit to the Dorothy Goodman School, we were given instructions for a non-intimidating body language, since the pupils had a wide range of cognitive impairment or learning difficulties, such as autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as others that could not be diagnosed. We were also encouraged to:
- keep positive eye contact;
- leave enough space for wheelchair access;
- reduce noise distractions.

We then met the pupils and their teacher at the Upper School. The school staff prearranged a session for all participants to introduce themselves, without distinguishing hierarchy between staff, designers and pupils. The visit included seeing the facilities such as safe spaces, sensory rooms, sports courts, football field, accessible playground, food technology area and games room (pictures were not allowed for privacy reasons).

Part 3 - Interview and co-design
At this point each designer partnered up with a pupil for co-designing a product for them to use at school for sports and physical/social activities. The product could be for indoor or outdoor use, depending on the pupil's preferences and limitations. 
Data recorded from the interview with the pupil on 31/10/2014
​​​​​​​My co-designer was a 13 year old boy which already loved sports, and my first task was to interview him and find more about his needs and aspirations. From the interview, it was clear that the design outcomes would have to keep him busy and active during the whole activity, would also have to provide a challenge for the team and be inclusive to wheelchair users.

In the following visit I brought the following sketches, which I discussed with my co-designing mate and he would make suggestions to make them more interesting and challenging, as well as come up with other uses for them.
Three concepts brought to the co-design activity, with some notes made after the pupil's feedback
Part 4 - Final designs

The Target-tree and Wavy Wall concepts were designed to be multifunctional products which could inspire different types of activities among the children. 

The co-designer’s choice was “Target-Tree”. The main reason beyond his choice was the constrain of being blindfolded, which made the exercise harder. Besides, it helped people to develop communication skills, and the tree shape would give a pleasant aesthetics in a school playground.

The insights for this concept were the pupil’s aspiration for playing in teams and his preferences for ball games. It also encourages other people with cognitive impairments to practice communication skills. There is also the potential to be inclusive to a wider range of disabilities, including visual and physical impairments.
Presentation boards as they were shown in the last visit
First concept, "Pick-a-Ball"
Target-Tree - Concept chosen by the pupil as the best idea
Wavy Wall - concept shortlisted for the YSD Inclusive Design Competition in February 2015.
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Youth Sports Direct - Ability Sports Competition

Youth Sports Direct - Ability Sports Competition

Universal Design project made for Loughborough University Design School. The aim was to design an enabling and inclusive sports product for schoo Read More