Whether it’s designing a wheelchair with skates or a medical device that helps stroke victims walk sooner, 1125@Carleton and the Research, Education, Accessibility and Design (READ) Initiative are collaborating to make a difference in the lives of those with disabilities.
“What we can do with 1125 is so phenomenal. There’s so much potential,” says Dean Mellway, director of Carleton’s READ Initiative.
Launched in fall of 2013, 1125@Carleton is a collaborative and innovative work space on campus that brings the university together with communities – locally and globally – to co-create solutions for sustainable communities. It is a Living Laboratory where Carleton researchers can partner with local and national companies, organizations and governments to provide resources and inventions that make a difference.
Mellway says the READ Initiative has similar goals, but with an emphasis on helping those with disabilities – that’s why working with 1125@Carleton was a natural fit.
“We’ve been watching the development of 1125, and the whole idea of bringing the community at large together with Carleton to make good things happen is pretty much a mirror of what READ is all about. Except we’re strictly talking about people with disabilities, and organizations that serve those with disabilities,” he says.
Sandra Crocker, associate vice-president (Research Planning and Operations) and interim executive director of 1125@Carleton, agrees that working with the READ Initiative made sense for both organizations.
“As READ’s mandate has grown, 1125 has certainly grown with it. And, we’ve seen opportunities to bring these two things together,” Crocker says.
She adds that having the READ Initiative’s expertise on projects going forward will be a tremendous benefit to 1125, and that READ will help 1125 engage with an important part of the community.
“I think it’s a way of doing outreach that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to do,” Crocker says. “At the end of the day, 1125 believes it’s important to have the community involved at the very beginning and that’s what READ can do.”
Mellway says partnering with 1125 will also be beneficial to READ, and help provide visibility and resources to the initiative.
“We’re a pilot project and we have a two-year commitment to see what READ can do,” Mellway says. “To be able to collaborate with other organizations on campus like 1125, who is well resourced, and to be able to share with them is just fantastic. It just makes us more real to the community and it’s a wonderful thing.”
Using 1125’s space on campus has helped READ reach out to students with disabilities and 1125 recently hosted an event for disabled students about employment opportunities in the public service, he says.
The event immediately filled up, he says, and 1125’s space was able to accommodate the amount of students.
“Carleton is becoming so well-known as a community that cares about accessibility,” Mellway says. “I have great hopes for (this partnership). If you connect the right people with the right resources, things are going to happen.”