Sarah: You’re Listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. A podcast that explores the interaction between people, design, and activity. Good Fit Poor Fit is part of The Universal Design Project, a nonprofit organization with a vision for every community across the USA to have a surplus of homes and opportunities for social participation that are universally and financially accessible.
[00:00:23] Learn more at universaldesign.org. Hello, hello! Welcome to another episode in our mini series: UD and Me. Today, we’re going to learn about another new team member and what really sparked her interest when it came to universal design. Today, we’re chatting with Sally Kiker, who’s a master’s of occupational therapy student at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC.
[00:00:50] Rebecca: Sally will be working with us until the end of July, so get ready to hear a little bit more from her in the coming months.
[00:00:57] Sally: Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be getting started with The Universal Design Project.
[00:01:03] Sarah: We are super excited to have you with us this summer, Sally, and I am glad you are going to be able to contribute to some of our podcast episodes too.
[00:01:12] So, just so our listeners can get to know you just a little bit more, Sally, what brought you into learning more about universal design, and getting excited about UD being a student?
[00:01:26] Sally: Well, Sarah, I’m glad you asked. Actually, this past semester I took an environment and technology course where I learned about universal design and assistive technology.
[00:01:37] One of our very first assignments was to listen to an episode of the Good Fit Poor Fit podcast. But I didn’t stop at just one. I spent the rest of my afternoon that day, learning about universal design through your podcast episodes. So next thing I know I’m drafting an email to you and Scott asking if you would take me under your wing, and here I am!
[00:01:57] I’m excited to have this opportunity because I see firsthand how advocating for universal design through this platform is a great way to educate the public and get people really excited about universal design. So long story short, this podcast is actually what made me so excited about universal design.
[00:02:15] I was immediately drawn to the creative aspects of this area of OT practice, because I’ve always loved crafting, painting, drawing, really any form of artistic expression. I think universal design plays on these strengths of mine. And I also love how universal design is so inclusive, considers the greater good, and is really accessible to all.
[00:02:37] Rebecca: Hey, Sally, I love that story, and I’m so glad that we here at Good Fit Poor Fit could inspire such excitement about universal design! That is exactly our goal. So that’s really encouraging. Thank you so much. We appreciate that. So, moving on, what is your favorite non-home related universal design feature?
[00:02:58] Sally: My favorite non-home related feature is a new product line from Nike called FlyEase.
[00:03:04] FlyEase shoes are guided by the principles of universal design and were created to be accessible to all athletes. Along with being functional for people with various abilities, these shoes are colorful, they’re fun, and they’re appealing to children and adults alike. The shoes are pretty hip and trendy, if you ask me, which helps to normalize accessible fashion. The FlyEase design includes three different innovations, including step-in shoes. These shoes are completely hands-free. They also have zip-up shoes, and a pull-tight design, which features two large loops on the tongue and the heel of the shoe for an easy slip-in mechanism.
[00:03:46] These designs are really great options for individuals who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to tie and untie laces or otherwise manipulate a standard sneaker. This may include people with fine motor deficits, arthritis, tremors, or amputations. These designs are also great for anyone looking to get in and out of the door faster and more efficiently.
[00:04:06] I personally would love to have a pair to keep by my front door for walking my dog, taking out the trash and getting the mail. I think the FlyEase products really embrace the first principle of universal design, which is equitable use. The product is marketable and useful to people with diverse abilities, skills, and preferences. However, when I was looking for a pair of my very own, I did notice that the accessible FlyEase designs were very low in stock or sold out completely. So it seems like this particular product line is less readily available than Nike’s other non-universally-designed shoes.
[00:04:43] Sarah: What a good UD example, Sally. And yes, there are, oftentimes I’m running out the door to go grab the mail or something quick, and I specifically look for shoes that are easy to slip on, like clogs or sandals, and I don’t have to tie. However, I think the uniqueness of these shoes is what gives the support and structure of active footwear that is easy to put on and keeps the shoe in place easily as well.
[00:05:09] That’s a really interesting point you brought up about not being able to actually obtain them or buy them online because of the low stock, or being out of stock, which is kind of sad. But I’d hope that more people can see the advantages of a shoe like this to really help drive consumer interest and encourage Nike to increase their availability. So if you hear this Nike, keep making these shoes because you’re really onto something great.
[00:05:37] So Sally, we’re going to switch gears a little bit. Can you talk about your favorite home-related UD feature?
[00:05:45] Sally: Sure! So one of my favorite home-related features that is universally designed is lighting systems. So, this might seem very simple, but I think lighting plays a very large role in the feel of an environment, and also influences how people interact with their surroundings. So in particular, I love lights with a dimmer and a timer. Lights that are automatically scheduled to turn off and on are great for those who stick to a regular wake and sleep schedule, and automatic lighting is also an effective safety feature, especially for when people are out of town. Lights that are on a timed schedule can give off the illusion that people are home, even when they’re not.
[00:06:30] And the dimmer feature is quite simple, but it can allow the user to adjust the light levels to best suit their sensory needs, and accomodate for changes in natural light throughout the day. So, at night, especially before bedtime, I like to dim the lights to a very low setting to make my space feel relaxing, whereas in the daytime, I like to have all lights on full brightness to keep me focused and awake.
[00:06:57] Rebecca: Yeah, I think those are really great points about lighting that you make. I certainly agree, and even in my work, working with companies to make their office spaces better for people with all different abilities, I’ve seen how lighting can make a really notable difference in functionality over workspaces and things like that.
[00:07:15] So if we think about that in terms of the home, whether you’re doing dishes over a well-lit sink, or maybe working from home at a desk with good task lighting, that can really make all the difference. So, Sally, I think, is really keen that you are already onto these types of universal design features. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing a bit about your story with us and our listeners.
[00:07:40] Listeners, we appreciate you and look forward to sharing more with you soon. Stay well out there!
[00:07:46] Sarah: Thanks for listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. I’m your host Sarah Pruett, Program Director and Occupational Therapist at The Universal Design Project. Learn more about our work at universaldesign.org, and find more episodes and links to subscribe at goodfitpoorfit.com. If you have questions or topics you’d like to discuss, email us at [email protected]
[00:08:17] Thanks for fitting us into your day!
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