Temasek Polytechnic student with cerebral palsy designs platform raising awareness about persons with disabilities
Nineteen-year-old Jay Ng aims to foster bonds between the able-bodied and persons with disabilities with his project.
When your path seems to be more challenging than others, it’s often tempting to just throw in the towel. This third-year Communication Design student from Temasek Polytechnic (TP), however, did the exact opposite.
Jay Ng Zhong Heng, 19, suffers from cerebral palsy but he refused to let his condition hinder him in any way. Instead, he used it as inspiration to look beyond just a one-dimensional point of view.
“Always try to explore different ways to tackle an issue. There’s always a different mindset and execution style to achieve what you want,” shared the student when asked about his biggest takeaway from his final-year project.
Dedicated to his mother who recently suffered a stroke, ‘Unique Bonds’ is a platform that aims to foster interactions between the able-bodied and persons with disabilities (PWDs) and educate the wider community about their experiences.
His work is a part of the polytechnic’s annual Design Show, a celebration of the works of graduating cohorts of design students. Spanning across five different diplomas, there are almost 400 projects on display this year. The show covers a variety of issues, ranging from sustainability to aiding people with disabilities.
Its aim is to inculcate a sense of responsibility in their designers to propose workable designs that are not just fixated on aesthetics, but also serve a purpose in solving societal issues.
Each student was given four months to bring their projects to life, from the drawing board to the actual completed prototype.
Despite the time constraints, Jay managed to deliver a comprehensive design solution. It was a solo feat that he achieved without aid from any assistive technology.
Surrounded by colourful poster boards, he gestures to the various aspects of his prototype while explaining the motivation behind his designs.
“Through this project, I hope to create a space where the able-bodied community can interact with persons with disabilities, and remove the stigma surrounding us.”
He designed a publicity campaign to celebrate the opening of the platform, comprising eight collaterals in total, such as posters, a website and t-shirts.
The posters inform the public of the purpose behind the space and intrigue audiences to find out more. Scanning a QR code at the bottom right of the poster will lead to an Instagram page, which sheds more light on the experiences of PWDs.
There is also a website that guides users to create a personalised profile that factors in their interests through categories such as Hobbies, Personality Traits, Favourite Quote and a Photo Gallery.
The website also has a chat function, encouraging conversation between users of the site. It helps the able-bodied and PWDs break the initial stereotypes they might have of each other.
Besides Jay’s project, there were other projects that also made commendable efforts to solve COVID-19-centric issues.
Product and Industrial Design student Lukas Lee You Jie, 19, wanted to create a product that would ensure user’s safety and hygiene in an endemic situation.
That led him to coming up with ‘AEGIS’, a material that incorporates visual hygiene into its design. It changes colour upon touch due to the thermochromic coating that changes from dark to light purple when in contact with body heat. This alerts users to possible contamination.
The material is made up of four layers, each with a special function.
Most notably, the first layer is an antiviral sheet produced by technology company Always Clean Live (ACLIV), that kills microbes in the time that it takes for the material to sanitise itself.
He also took into consideration the awareness of users, and included a memory foam layer which creates an indent upon a person’s contact with the surface.
Lukas plans to roll this project out to public transport operators like SBS Transit, for the material to be used on common contact areas on public transport, such as overhead handles and leaning panels.
The design show also awards the top three projects with the Sustainability Design Award (SDA), an award that evaluates designs that showcase high levels of social responsibility and feasibility.
One such awardee is Cheryl Yong SongQi, whose project addressed the issue of litter affecting marine life.
An anagram of the word lure, ‘RUEL’ is a hand-held compression moulding device that repurposes fishing lines into recyclable fishing lures. It also has extra storage spaces for users to keep their various hooks, weights, and other hardware.
To use ‘RUEL’, users simply have to wound their fishing line around the rubber protrusion and switch the motor on to gather the lines. Thereafter, the lines can be placed into the metal mould of the user’s choice. The moulding process takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
She plans to make the device affordable and accessible to the general public, with a proposed price of $50. However, plans to formally commercialise Cheryl’s product are still in the works.
Termed the ‘pandemic generation’ by their lecturers, this graduating batch has shown the resilience and grit to push past the difficult circumstances thrown at them.
Senior Lecturer Mr Chow Chee Yong, 53, said: “I think the unique thing about this year’s projects is the variation of works, previously unheard of. For example, we get projects relating to mental health and the pandemic. Previously, these issues would get played down a lot, but are now escalated.”
He also mentioned that in the design arena, social issues are critical. The emphasis has gone from creating beautiful things alone to designing with a deeper purpose in mind.
The projects are currently on display at TP on Mar 31 and Apr 1. Admission is free, although an appointment booking is required beforehand to view the works.
Visitors will be taken on special guided tours that last an hour, and group sizes permitted depend on the safe distancing guidelines of the day.