Global Disability Innovation Hub celebrates fourth birthday with #DisabilityInnovationDay
7 September 2020
As the GDI Hub celebrated its fourth anniversary on Thursday 3 September 2020, Vicki Austin, CEO of the GDI Hub Community Interest Company, reflects on what it means to launch #DisabilityInnovationDay for the disability innovation community worldwide.
On 3 September 2020, the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI) celebrated its fourth birthday with the launch of #DisabilityInnovationDay – asking what is possible for the future of Disability Innovation and sharing a vision for a more inclusive future. A UCL research and practice centre, GDI was born of the legacy of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and launched four years later at Rio 2016. Now working with partners in more than 25 countries, GDI has already impacted 2.5 million people and intends to reach over 15 million people by 2024.
In the four years since its launch, the world has change immensely. There can be no better time to be working on assistive tech and digital innovation, and never has the need for access and inclusion been greater. Only by growing diverse teams, sharing our learning, and building the broadest partnerships will we level the playing field and ensure no one is left behind.
The London 2012 Paralympics enabled a new way of thinking and new approaches to drive inclusion – which we now call Disability Innovation. #DisabilityInnovationDay was an opportunity to celebrate the disability innovation community globally, marking a milestone on the journey so far and exploring future opportunities to change the world for the better. Asking questions such as: ‘what if we built a world that was accessible to all?’, ‘what if there were more disabled leaders?' or 'what if every child had the opportunity to watch the Paralympics?’, the GDI channeled the spirit of the Games to celebrate the values of determination, equality, inspiration and courage.
Voices who joined #DisabilityInnovationDay included the International Paralympic Committee, GATE (Global Cooperation for Assistive Technology) and UNICEF, as well as 13 year old Ugandan Para Swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe in this inspiring video:
In the four years since it launched, GDI has developed a profile of more than 40 projects with a value of over £40m. In 2020, GDI will see the first year of graduates from our award-nominated MSc in Disability, Design and Innovation, delivered with our founding partners UCL (University College London), UAL's London College of Fashion and Loughborough University London. From traditional research projects like CrowdBot, which helps wheelchair users navigate in crowds, to AT innovations tested in real time, GDI has supported governments as well as communities and private sector partners to lead change. The launch of Innovate Now, Africa’s first Assistive Tech Accelerator, as well as AT Impact Fund later this month, continue that momentum.
We look forward to continuing to build collaborations across the Disability Innovation community, as we drive towards a fairer world and build towards the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games.