Published on 28 March 2018
Egalité - Diversité - Handicap

On April 5th, the symposium ‘Handiversité’ organized by Université Paris-Saclay will present technical and educational innovations in the field of disability. Its specificity: gather scientists and stakeholders from Université Paris-Saclay, as well as associations and companies.

Disability is often considered as a constraint, especially by human resources departments. However, it is a tremendous source of innovation, as the third Handiversité symposium organized by Université Paris-Saclay intends to show. The symposium will bring together researchers, large companies and SMEs, as well as associations and communities.

"About thirty projects will be presented by researchers and start-ups, and even by students," says Hélène Maynard, researcher in computer science, and one of the organizers of the event. “This is the first time that individuals and small associations take part to this symposium. It confirms that the conference fulfills its role of aggregator."

Looking for good ideas

There is something for everyone: theses on topics related to disability, technical innovations, educational projects... For example, a project carried out by three researchers from ‘Laboratoire d’informatique’ (Limsi) (computer lab) aims to transcribe automatically sign language into written text, based on videos. The company Auticonsult works on hiring autistic people to work as consultants. Students from the IUT Orsay develop a project to order wheelchairs with a tablet. EDF, which hosts the conference, will present its actions destined to help disabled people to go sailing... the projects are far too numerous to present all, and all exciting!

According to Sylvain Chevallier, who co-organizes this symposium, "it's an opportunity to look for good ideas, useful for disabled people, but not only. Gyrolift, for example, a device that enables to move both sitting and standing, was first designed for handicap. But in fact it also serves all those who constantly move from sitting to standing. Today, we must change the process of innovation: from the beginning, we must design objects that are suitable for everyone, or at least easy to adapt. "

Shared projects

Beyond the presentation of projects, the purpose of this conference is to make people from different worlds meet. It is indeed uncommon for associations, researchers, students, companies and even individuals to have the opportunity to learn about and share with others on the same topic. The symposium Handiversité is a springboard to collaborations. For example, Nokia is collaborating with Paris-Saclay and an association on digital accessibility trainings open to everyone.

Disabled people are involved. They carry several projects, for example on the training of future teachers who know how to adapt their courses regarding disabilities. Several projects aim to better integrate them: the Association des paralysés de France funds a thesis on the participation of disabled people in innovation processes, and the start-up Lowpital, led by a PhD student, aims to bring disability specialists closer to disabled people. Because innovation on disability cannot go forward without the main concerned people.