In 2011 support from The Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust allowed the RSA to commission a series of design workshops. The aim of the workshops was to determine a range of ways to teach practical design to patients both during the rehabilitation period and after discharge.
Design as a discipline, or thought-process, can address the dramatic loss of confidence and diminished motivation that results from a sudden physical impairment. As a structured way of approaching problems, design is a useful tool in re-building confidence. Working with this group on a new model of design-training focused on self-reliance and creative resourcefulness will yield knowledge with potential for widespread replication among other groups of people whose independence, fulfilment and social participation are challenged.
The total project proposal includes inspirational introductory design lectures/workshops at the specialist spinal units in the UK and Republic of Ireland; a residential design workshop for spinally-injured people and carers; an evaluation and stakeholder review; a policy seminar for health and social services professionals; a published report containing the design training model with recommendations for scaling and replicating the project; and an published visual essay on existing design improvisations by disabled people.