Mutually Beneficial Meeting: SDI’s Steve Foelsch and Wash U’s “Designing for America”

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Director of Disability Studies at Starkloff Disability Institute, Steve Foelsch was contacted by Washington University earlier this year and asked to interact with several of their students from “Designing for America.” This organization is part of the national network committed to design, innovation, entrepreneurship and the capacity to make change.

Comprised of students from different areas of study, the students’ majors varied from architecture and engineering to fashion design and anthropology. “This is great to see students with varying interests and skill sets interested in people with disabilities, because the subject of disability is not a narrow subject.  It is an all-encompassing subject of the whole human experience,” Steve professed.

Over several months, the students met with Steve at his apartment and took walking excursions in downtown St. Louis. The students not only learned what resources and accommodations people with significant disabilities use in order to work and live in the community, but examined real-life applications of accessibility and more importantly, Universal Design.

“It was a mutually beneficial learning experience,” Steve said. “The students kept asking me for real-life examples of what people with significant disabilities living in the community experience, while giving me suggestions on how to rearrange my living quarters in order to make life more convenient, efficient and of course, more independent.”

The learning experience culminated in Steve attending Designing for America’s presentations at Washington University. Steve also had a Barbecue & Baseball picnic on his patio where the students had the opportunity to meet Colleen Starkloff and speak to her about independent living and universal design.

Well-designed wisdom for all.

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