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The Meaning of Time

February 2016
 
  
Experimental, adaptive devices designed together by students and self-advocates
 
In the course of the regular gatherings of Israel Elwyn's Self-Advocacy group in Jerusalem, group members Dudu and his friends have raised questions about the concept of time as it relates to their daily lives.  For instance, "When the bus is late, what does that mean in terms of getting to work on time?"  While some of these self-advocates with intellectual disabilities are comfortable working with a weekly calendar, the more distant future can be challenging: keeping track of the group's twice monthly meetings can be difficult and holidays and birthdays present even greater challenges.  Some find counting weekends helpful, along with reminders from friends, staff and their mobile phone.  Relational markers are also helpful guides such as:  "My turn to speak with the apartment support staff is the day after my roommate does it."
 
Presentation by students 
 
When lecturers in the Visual Communications Department at the world renowned Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem were contacted in order to help find solutions for this important subject, they eagerly accepted the challenge.  A cross-departmental course was created for students from the David Yellin College of Education's Special Education Department and Bezalel, who named the course, "When is Time?”
 
Course work for the students (from both Bezalel and David Yellin College) included meeting with the self-advocates and trying to find practical and need-specific solutions to the question, “When is time?”  The students and self-advocates were paired in working groups. Their meetings took place in the self-advocates' homes, places of work, during various activities and at Bezalel so that the students could get to know and understand the self-advocates’ varied needs.  Each group developed a different device for their 'customer' based on that person's requirements.
 
The results of the students' labors were recently presented before the self-advocates, family members, course lecturers, Commissioner Ahiya Kamara (Israeli Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities), and staff from Bezalel, David Yellin College and Israel Elwyn.  Among the products designed was a clock with images to cue the user as to what event needs to take place at a given hour of the day.  Another product innovation presented was a bracelet with interchangeable charms with icons representing the day's tasks and appointments.  These and the other experimental products developed by the students were received by the group members, who will use them in the coming months and provide feedback for any needed modifications.  This collaboration has already had an impact in affirming to the self-advocates that their needs and desires are valued.  In addition, the design students and those studying to work in the field of special education, received a very personal and practical education on the needs of adults with disabilities. The project has the potential to launch mass-market devices that can make time management that much easier for people with disabilities. 
 

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The Self-Advocacy Project is a joint initiative of Israel Elwyn and Beit Issie Shapiro in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Ruderman Family Foundation.In the course of the regular gatherings of Israel Elwyn's Self-Advocacy group in Jerusalem, group members Dudu and his friends have raised questions about the concept of time as it relates to their daily lives.  For instance, "When the bus is late, what does that mean in terms of getting to work on time?"  While some of these self-advocates are comfortable working with a weekly calendar, the more distant future can be challenging: keeping track of the group's twice monthly meetings can be difficult and holidays and birthdays present even greater challenges.  Some find counting weekends helpful, along with reminders from friends, staff and their mobile phone.  Relational markers are also helpful guides such as:  "My turn to speak with the apartment support staff is the day after my roommate does it."
 
When lecturers in the Visual Communications Department at the world renowned Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem were contacted in order to help find solutions for this important subject, they eagerly accepted the challenge.  A cross-departmental course was created for students without disabilities, from the David Yellin College of Education's Special Education Department, who together with the self-advocates named the course, "When is Time?”
 
Course work for the students (from both Bezalel and David Yellin College) included meeting with the self-advocates and trying to find practical and need-specific solutions to the question, “When is time?”  The students and self-advocates were paired in working groups.  Their meetings took place in the group members' homes, places of work, during various activities and at Bezalel so that the students could get to know and understand the self-advocates’ varied needs.  Each group developed a different device for their 'customer' based on that person's requirements.
 
Last Wednesday, the results of the students' labors were presented before the self-advocates, family members, course lecturers, Commissioner Ahiya Kamara (Israeli Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities), and staff from Bezalel, David Yellin College and Israel Elwyn.  Among the products designed was a clock with images to cue the user as to what event needs to take place at a given hour of the day.  Another product innovation presented was a mobile phone holder/key chain that included a small translucent sleeve to keep appointment information visible.  These and the other experimental products developed by the students were received by the group members, who will use them in the coming months and provide feedback for any needed modifications.  This collaboration has already had an impact in affirming to the self-advocates that their needs and desires are valued.  In addition, the design students and those studying to work in the field of special education, received a very personal and practical education on the needs of adults with disabilities. The project has the potential to launch mass-market devices that can make time management that much easier for people with disabilities. 
 
The Self-Advocacy Project is a joint initiative of Israel Elwyn and Beit Issie Shapiro in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Ruderman Family Foundation.





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David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

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