Julie McGowan of Craigavon has designed the Urban Survival Kits (USK) project, working with 40 adults with disabilities from Northern Ireland, Germany, Poland, Turkey and Croatia to create tools that will make their journeys more accessible.
Having suffered a bout of functional neurological impairment after surgery in 2020 that left her partially paralyzed, she had to relearn how to walk and when she started traveling she realized the enormous obstacles faced by people with disabilities. Julie is a successful sculptor, photographer and performance artist and has to travel for her work.
She said: “Having a disability can make getting around extremely difficult, even short journeys can be problematic for some people. We’re looking at different ways to help people be more independent and feel confident about negotiating any obstacles they might face. »
Urban Survival Kits (USK) is part of the University of the Atypical’s international research program that explores new models of creative engagement with d/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people. It is funded by the Erasmus + EU program
The project brings people together this week with workshops at the Crescent Arts Centre, the Ulster Museum and on Zoom to examine individual needs which could include communication tools, improved identification systems and strategies for dealing with unfamiliar situations. .
Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of Atypical University, said: “We are working with four other EU countries to help improve the travel experience for people with disabilities locally, nationally and internationally. The project develops new creative approaches to travel for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people and creates tools and resources that will make travel easier.
The project is a two-year initiative of the University of Atypical and features a program of live and online exploratory workshops, local exhibitions in each of the participating countries, a virtual and 3D exhibition and an international exhibition that takes place in Belfast in 2023.
The University of Atypical Arts and Disability is a disability-led arts charity, taking an empowerment-based approach to supporting the involvement of d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people in the arts.