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Open Minds Cards

The Open Minds Cards are an integral part of the Creative Innovation Lab experience, serving as a springboard for ideation and empathy-building. The cards help simulate diverse scenarios by representing different personas, conditions, and environments. Through their use, participants are challenged to think creatively about accessibility and inclusion, fostering a deeper understanding of how design can impact the lives of individuals with disabilities.

The cards are designed primarily to help participants explore the experiences of people with different disabilities and the impact that design can have on their lives. Drawing from three piles of cards, participants work in groups to discuss and hypothesise scenarios and narratives in which a person might encounter issues of exclusion or disadvantage.

The first pile contains the Person cards. We have created these cards to briefly describe an individual rather than a ‘type’ of person. This creates a concrete and specific character that the participants can build a story around and imagine obstacles and potential solutions. Focusing on an individual provides a stronger foundation for empathy and understanding and underscores that issues of exclusion are generally experienced at an individual and personal level.

Next are what we call the Condition cards.

We remind participants that ‘disability’ is not a personal attribute but rather a consequence of the interaction between a person and their environment.

People who experience disabilities are not “less able” than those who do not but instead experience limitations in certain situations due to the design of their environment. It’s also important to keep in mind that a condition may not be permanent and can change over time. For instance, an injury that could heal or an experience of profound grief that subsides and becomes more manageable over time.

The Disabling Environment cards are physical and virtual spaces that people may find themselves in, and that introduce problems, challenges and excluding factors.

Issues of inclusion are not typically solved by attempting to change people. In design, the thing that you can change and adapt is the environment, the way it is constructed and the objects and technologies within it. The creation of a product or service is unlikely to change a person’s character, nor any facts about their physical or mental condition. But it is possible to design an environment in such a way that it means that the person is not disadvantaged, excluded, or disabled by that environment.

By drawing from all three piles of the Open Minds Cards, participants construct narratives and scenarios about specific individuals with certain conditions in a range of environments and the experiences that they have as a result of their interactions with those environments.

As part of the Open Minds course, students experiment with the cards in different ways: with rapid-fire idea generation, group discussion and hypothesis development.

The Open Minds Cards are one of the unique tools developed specifically for this Erasmus+ education project.

By drawing from all three piles of the Open Minds Cards, participants construct narratives and scenarios about specific individuals with certain conditions in a range of environments and the experiences that they have because of their interactions with those environments. As part of the Open Minds course, participants experiment with the cards in different ways: with rapid-fire idea generation, group discussion and hypothesis development.

As this is a publicly-funded initiative, we have made the print files openly available should you wish to get some made for your classroom, youth group or organisation - or if you would just like a set for yourself.

The Open Minds Cards are available in English, Swedish, Finnish, Croatian, Portuguese and Albanian.

You can also order them directly from us at MTF Labs, and we will arrange to get them printed and shipped to you. Feel free to get in touch.

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Co-funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union

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