FIU Embrace workshop to improve accessibility

By: Denisse Machado Taboada/Contributing Writer

The core objective of FIU Embrace is to make the University an engaging and welcoming environment to every student with all ability levels through education, service, and research opportunities.

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, FIU Embrace will be celebrating the U.N. Day of Persons with Disabilities by hosting a Design Thinking interactive workshop.

FIU Embrace, which is part of the Office of Research and Economic Development, is an initiative working to promote the inclusion and well-being of adults with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Mainly, the aim of the workshop is to think, prototype and find workable alternatives that help facilitate everyday experiences of adults with developmental disabilities and to ensure their inclusion into University life.

This is the first event that FIU Embrace is hosting in recognition of the UN Day for Persons with Disabilities, celebrated annually on Monday, Dec. 3. The intention of the organizers is to compile all the possible answers to the issues tackled in the session and later present them to the University Provost Kenneth G. Furton.

“Our goal for this event is to explore what we can do as a group to ensure that the University is fully accessible to all learners, faculty and the community that comes to FIU to use the available facilities,” said Nicole Attong, director of operations at FIU Embrace.

The meeting will take place in MARC from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and the agenda will include a small presentation from Ciara Khan, program assistant at FIU Embrace, explaining the challenges faced by students with disabilities, group discussions and sharing of innovative solutions.

Both Attong and Khan highlighted the benefits of design thinking as a medium to give answers to the needs of the community and how they might one day transfer into the bigger spectrum of the Miami-Dade County.

Attong said that FIU is a microcosm where the Miami community is reflected. Advocating and finding accessibility solutions for the disabled community attending the University could lead to a number of practical initiatives that can eventually be implemented in the county and the state, they said.

“Design thinking is a person-centered approach to solving complex problems,” said Khan. “It is an innovative way to have these discussions and also get people thinking about solutions.”

Startup FIU will host the event and FIU Embrace will be partnering with the Disability Resource Center, FIU Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Management, Honors College and Upsilon Pi Epsilon. The event is open to all students, but those who wish to attend the event should register as there is limited space for participants.

“The only way we can ensure that our university is accessible and enjoyable to all, is to get the expertise of people from different groups and to bring to the table the best minds to solve challenging problems,” Attong said.