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Fresh graduates find jobs based on their innovative thinking of universal design.Taipei city’s innovated activity the Citizen Café, “Let’s Chat”.

       During graduation time, challenges in entering the workforce are the biggest concerns college graduates have. How to find an ideal job? To the disabled, without accessibility the office even wouldn’t be available. On June 21, 2020 the Taipei City Foreign and Disabled Labor Office (TCFDLO) held the Citizen Café Activity, Let’s Chat, for students. Disabled students and other students were invited sit together, mixed and matched at table, talk about their ideas on the employment in the future. The enthusiastic dialogues among the students have opened some new avenues for a student who we refer to as A-wei. He is from the Chaoyang University of Technology. Another student, known as A-de, who is visually impaired, is from Shih Hsin University. After finishing a three-hour session, all participants were eagerly waiting for the next activity.

       This activity was hosted by the TCFDLO, and included a dialogue between the disabled students, and non-disabled students. It started with the concept of a “universal design”. Its aim is to encourage the students to imagine or understand how the disabled face challenges in the workplace. In the future, when students enter the workplace, they could become the designers of social revolutions who are able to assist businesses to establish a friendly workplace environment. The participants were students of Shih Hsin University, Chaoyang University of Technology, Chinese Culture University, University of Taipei, and National Changhua University of Education. The departments they represented include Dept. of Social and Public Affairs, Department of Law, Dept. of Visual Communication Design, Dept. of Public Policy and Management, and Graduate Institute of Rehabilitation Counseling. In their dialogues, it showed that their points of view were very different. They were grouped at tables and to start dialogues. The leaders of the group were from the fields of Social Design and innovative design. They were as follows: the pioneer of social design platform “5% Design Action”, Hong yenzu and Wang Yujane, who are good at social design; the vice manager of the Duofu Holidy, Liu Yi-Chung, who started his career in the field of barrier-free transportation; The responsible person for the Sandwiches Lab, Lee Wan-Jien, who has created an innovation of merging the Arts into social design; The Co-founder of the Warm Things Healthy Life, Lien Pei-Yin, whose organization deals with assistive device consultation; The social innovation worker, Hu Tin-Suo, who is a disabled; The founder of the Universal Design Workshop, Yu Hong-Yi. Many participating students came to this activity out of admiration for them, and expected to get acknowledge of social innovation work. They, with the profound experiences in social innovation, led the students to initiate and maintain productive dialogues. The students gave extremely positive feedback.

       A student of Chaoyang University of Technology, who goes by the name “A-Wei”, attended the discussion on the topic “Happy and fair benefit to employees”. He expressed that everyone is looking forward to having a happy workplace. Like other employees, the disabled employees have their own expectations for the company where they work. Sometimes, the company treats their employees to travel. Employees have their own preferences for the place to travel so they can’t appreciate the gesture of goodwill that the company has. How can a company make the employees feel satisfied? The company needs to find out a common ground from the differences to make their workers happy. In the discussion on the topic “Universal and friendly work environment”, a student intern, whose alien is Hsiao-may, expressed that the office supplies are supposed to be in a specific place. Sometime “we are told that the stationery is over here, and then over there”. To an employee with a visual impairment, it can be difficult to decide where the real location is. In this case, it’s essential to have an easily identifiable location that remains constant. In addition, it’s important to have a map of the location where the office supplies are kept. So, “whenever we need something, we don’t need to always ask someone to help”. It is mandatory to have a user-friendly work environment. The normal habits for some might pose problems for the disabled. A small change can greatly increase the communication quality between two sides. The social design is not hard. The most important thing is to put yourself in our shoes. And a creative resolution strategy can be innovated and implemented.

       Director Chen, Hsin-Yu from the Department of Labor in the Taipei City Government expressed their wish that students enter the workplace one day. Knowing disabled school mates and learning more about people with disabilities during the school year will increase the development and promotion of products in a workplace where there might be disabled workers. The disabled are the potential consumers of certain products. How could we create a thing which is a convenient for the disabled to use and create an approach for us to work together with them. The Citizen Café Activity, Let’s Chat, was a good start for us to have some new avenues.

       Throughout the dialogues, between the groups who are mixed and matched at table, many young people get the chance to share their views on issues related to disabled employment. They naturally mix well with one another. The TCFDLO have designed various activities and encourage the disabled and others to take part in them. Information on activities can be found on our website https://fd.gov.taipei/, or on our Facebook under “Taipei Job Plus Fans.”

Taipei city’s innovated activity the Citizen Café, “Let’s Chat”

Taipei city’s innovated activity the Citizen Café, “Let’s Chat”