CMU2.0 – architecture and technology for social inclusion

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This summer marked the end of the second generation of workshops and activities at Senseability Urban Mobility Club, with the mission to create contexts of interaction between the visually impaired and able-bodied people. AMAIS NGO launched the project in 2017 and the goal is to work together and adapt to an unfriendly city, but also to start the foundations for an #InclusiveBucharest.

CMU2.0 approached 2 subjects of major importance for urban mobility and social inclusion – technology and architecture. From an inclusive approach, they can facilitate the access of blind people to an independent life, respecting their rights to education and a career, culture and sports and a public space adapted to their specific needs.

The project was supported by ING Tech Romania and throughout the year there were over 25 workshops where the instruments used were assistive technologies, tactile maps, canes and opaque glasses, each played a part in growing the skill-sharing community and over 150 visually impaired and able-bodied people took part.

Assistive technology

In this era of technology, an independent life can be achieved by innovative solutions that provide information that were totally inaccessible in the past to the visually impaired. Assistive technology is an important ally for social inclusion and within CMU2.0 a new unit was developed, called CMUTech.

CMUTech has 2 types of workshops – basic technology to teach the use of a computer and the Internet and how to use a smart phone to gain access to all kinds of useful information and coding hub that supports blind people with an interest in IT. The hub offers a starting point to those planning to attend a university in this field, and later on, to get a job. Part of the workshops took place at Bucharest University – Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science and the rest were online sessions. The hub is managed by 3 of the 5 visually impaired professionals active in IT in Romania.

Architecture and inclusive design

The lack of accessibility in the built environment is one of the objective reasons for the (self) isolation of people with disabilities from Romania. The approach aimed at teaching future professionals about inclusive design, students from the Faculty on Interior Architecture at Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism.

The students worked in groups, alongside visually impaired people and each team designed an installation to engage the senses. Each installation can prepare people with disabilities for the exploration of the built environment so they can become more aware of the tactile, acoustic and other perceptions that are not usually explored as part of an independent life frame. The project was managed by a team of architects from AMAIS and was based on the relation between architecture and the senses, along with the importance of empathy – traits that define inclusive design.

The club opens again in autumn with new workshops and activities. More details on CMUSenseability page and www.amais.ro.

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