ProtoPolicyAsia: empowering local communities and Government in Malaysia in addressing social issues in ageing and disabilities

The 12-month project, ProtoPolicyAsia, aim is to increase local community participation in the Malaysian national policy-making process to work together with relevant government agencies on social issues that relate to older persons and persons with disabilities.

It involves the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Malaysia, Petrosains – The Science Discovery Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Lancaster University, Sunway University in Malaysia and United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health in Malaysia.

The project has been funded by the AHRC as part of the GCRF Highlight Notice for International Development:  Follow on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme.

Small-Group Clinics as Follow-Up to Workshop on PwDs and Access to Education

Following the 17th September 2019 workshop with Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), we ran two design clinics on October 1st and 2nd at Sunway Clio Hotel. The first group included blind participants whereas the second group included the deaf. Both clinics put the participants through their paces by combining futurology methods with fast prototyping approaches. Further, the participants were asked to consider the social impact (and consequence) of their proposed prototypes.

The October 1 clinic centred on training teachers in the implementation of creative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education. A subsidiary of this project is a proposal for developing a master creative lesson plan. Much of the clinic time was spent considering the present probable and plausible (and some possible) scenarios relating to current policy implementations and existing policy possibilities.

The participants found that the lack of diversity in the teaching body and insufficient teacher preparation had led to the systematic exclusion of sensory-disabled students from STEM subjects at the school level, despite policies that suggest otherwise. They were interested in the realization of universal design in science education that could allow for a more inclusive approach to the teaching of STEM at all levels. The group of that there has not been much work done on STEM education and the disabled in the Malaysian context.

The clinic on October 2 focuses on education for the deaf. A key issue is a national policy of using of Kod Tangan Bahasa Malaysia (KTBM) instead of Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) in schools. BIM is a unique language developed by the Malaysian deaf community and is well-suited to their communication needs whereas KTBM is a code (not a language) that signifies Bahasa Malaysia. While KTBM was intended to help deaf students learn Bahasa Malaysia grammar, the deaf community finds it laborious to use, unintuitive, and less effective at communicating meaning than BIM—making KTBM an obstacle to teaching and learning.

Much of the clinic time was spent on helping hearing participants understand the differences between BIM and KTBM and the experience of their deaf counterparts in using the language and the code. The group continued to explore a process for transitioning to BIM, the needs of deaf students who have additional sensory or learning disabilities, and the integration of hearing and deaf students (including exposing hearing students to BIM from primary school).

The participants of both clinics have since taken their respective prototype proposals online as they continue to collaborate, where they will not merely be working with each other, but are reaching out to other stakeholders and experts with similar interests. Besides the original participants who continued from the September 17th workshop, we have additional participants, from both academia and Ministries, who were intentionally brought in to lend perspectives that would contribute to a deepened consideration and refinement of the proposals.

Watch this space for future reveals.

ProtoPolicyAsia September “Co-designing Workshop involving Persons with Disabilities – Accessibility and Education”

ProtoPolicyAsia successfully hosted a one-day “Co-designing Workshop involving Persons with Disabilities – Accessibility and Education” on 17 September 2019 at Sunway Clio Hotel. A total of 12 participants attended the workshop; with two participants representing the Deaf Community, two participants representing the Visually Impaired Community and one representing the physically challenged.

The workshop is centred on exploring how the PWDs and special needs education could be part of the educational mainstream, with proposals that could be developed for implementation at the policy level. From this workshop, we envision subsequent workshops that involve co-designing the adaptation of speculative design to participatory design involving specific PWD communities.

The workshop began with an introduction to speculative design and its potential use in disability research and education. Participants were provoked to identify main themes on disability that will be used throughout the workshop based on the questions that were provided to them prior to the workshop. Following that, they worked in groups to map out disability issues they have identified as unresolved in the consideration of accessibility and education.

Following the mind-mapping exercise, the identified issues were grouped into few pillars; Expertise, Infrastructure, Resources, Priorities, and Disability & Culture. Next, the groups moved on to co-design problem framing by co-creating problem statements that could be worked on with the use of speculative design. They were again challenged to think outside of the box using the 4Ps future cone concepts of the “Possible, Plausible, Probable, and Preferable”. At the end of the session, both groups present their prototype ideas.

What’s next?

We are planning to conduct a “Design Clinic” with the participants to further refine the prototypes that were developed during the workshop. We aim to showcase some of the prototype(s) in the upcoming public dissemination events.

More details to follow and for more information please contact Liza (lizaht[at]sunway.edu.my / 60137678897) and Dr Yong (mhyong[at]sunway.edu.my / 03-7491 8622 ext 7165).

ProtoPolicyAsia August “Futurology Workshop”

ProtoPolicyAsia hosted a half-day “Futurology Workshop” on 16 August 2019 at iLabs Makerspace at Sunway University, an extension to the “Champions Workshop” and “Co-designing Workshop with Community Members” held in July 2019.

The workshop was attended by Champions from the previous workshop, students, and Sunway University academics. The workshop aimed to introduce its participants to theories and practice of future through a curated series of activities to impart participants with some future thinking skills. The workshop ended with a game play as a microsimulation of the process of future thinking.

Mapping Trends and Signals

The workshop began with the Mapping Trends and Signals led by Ringo Harrison. This exercise continued over the duration of the workshop, prior to the final activity, where participants were asked to map their understanding of futures in a cumulative exercise.  Participants were divided into two groups and tasked with developing two maps on categories, signals and trends, which ends with the development of policy recommendations.  It was at the end of all lectures that the participants consolidated their maps and presented their findings.

Futures “Lightning Talk”

The next session involves a series of Futures “Lightning Talk” by four invited speakers who are academics from Sunway University; Distinguished Prof David Bradley, head of the Centre for Biomedical Physics ,  A/Prof Lau Sian Lun, head of the Department of Computing and Information Systems, A/Prof Gopalasamy Reuben Clements, co-founder and vice-president of Rimba, and Dr Goh Yi Sheng, senior lecturer at the Department of Art & Design.

Prof Bradley’s talk discusses “Inhabiting Hostile World” and shared his expertise on radiation physics to a broader consideration of technologies for dealing with a  hostile radioactive world. A/Prof Lau discussed, through the “The Future in ICT, about changes across time, its affect in communication that included a take-home message: “let future ICT connects us, but not control us.”  Biodiversity conservationist, A/Prof Clements used repeat of a dystopic past in possible futures to jolt participants to consider more seriously, the  “Future of Forests” by using the motif of the computer short-cut keys, “CTRL-ALT-DEL” to present how the present could be reset to create a forest-friendly future. Dr Goh introduced participants to the “Future of Design” by bringing AI to the design of human connectivity. The presentations were interjected with 2-minute Q&A before the speakers came together as a panel, at the end, to position their respective lectures within the context of the future of policies.

Different Strategies of Future-Thinking

The next session was led by Dr Clarissa Lee on “Different Strategies of Future-Thinking”. The session was divided into five sections which are, foresight approaches, emergence vs. disruption, timelines and scaling, futures in policy, and ethics. The objective was to inform participants with existing methodologies of foresight to scaffold the lightning talks session.

Gaming the Future

Ho Yi Jian led the last session,“Gaming the Future” not merely to field-test the prototype of a game designed to expose players to the experience of speculative design, but also served to consolidate the overall learning process.

For more information please contact Liza (lizaht[at]sunway.edu.my / 60137678897) and Dr Yong (mhyong[at]sunway.edu.my / 03-7491 8622 ext 7165).

ProtoPolicyAsia July “Champions Workshop” and “Co-designing Workshop with Community Members”

ProtoPolicyAsia successfully hosted a two-day “Champions Workshop” on 1-2 July 2019 followed by the “Co-designing Workshop with Community Members” on 3 July 2019 at Sunway University. These workshops were follow-up workshops based on the Introduction to Speculative Design for Policy-Making Workshop held in April and May 2019.

Champions Workshop

17 participants “Champions” from government agencies, and community-based organisations and non-government organisations attended this interactive workshop held in Sunway University. The aim was to train the Champions’ on participatory speculative design, to engage participation, and also to co-design with the facilitators for community members. Champions learnings from Day 1 and 2 will be put to test on Day 3, when the community members were brought in to the workshop.

The workshop started with an opening address by Dr Yong Min Hooi, who explained the overall project aims and specific expectations in the coming 3 days.

The two-day workshop was facilitated by Andy Darby and ProtoPolicyAsia Lead PI, Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves, both from Lancaster University. On Day 1, the Champions were introduced to Speculative Design (SD) by letting them create their own speculations of themselves. Andy led the session by stimulating the Champions’ mind in defining design and SD followed by provocation on present and futures. He introduced PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental) as a method to integrate SD at their workplace. Andy also introduced best practices in facilitation for Champions will need this skill in the subsequent workshop. On Day 2, the Champions practiced on exploring provocative solutions for their identified issues. They were then split into 7 pairs to work on their plan for the day after. The facilitators were also split up to support each new pair to guide and prepare them for the next day’s session.

We also pilot-tested the SD boardgame at the end of Day 2. The boardgame (spearheaded by Dr Clarissa Lee) is aimed at introducing SD in a fun engaging manner and to allow meaningful feedback to the game developers.

Co-designing workshop with Community Members

On 3 July 2019, 20 participants from the general public attended the “Co-designing Workshop with Community Members”. 18 were senior citizens and 2 represented the Person with Disability community. These 20 were divided to specific pairs and we had between 5 to 6 people per group. As per yesterday’s pairings and support from one facilitator, the two Champions introduced SD and facilitated their group members to build a future solution to a current/future problem. The Champions worked hard at explaining what is SD and how best to address specific needs within each community, while managing individual differences. At the end of the session, each group presented their day’s work “prototype” and explained the importance of their prototype(s) to the crowd. The Champions were debriefed by the facilitators on their performance and expectations on future workshops.

The 3-day workshop for the Champions has been gruelling and tiring, but to which the Champions demonstrated their knowledge and skill remarkably. Seeing the prototypes (although it was made from play-doh) helped Champions to ‘see’ possible and preferable outcomes.

What’s next?

We will host a two-day “Futurology Workshop” and “Pre-Prototyping Workshop” to be held at Sunway University in August where the Champions will refine the prototypes developed with the Community on 3 July. We aim to showcase some of the prototype(s) in the upcoming public dissemination events.

We look forward to seeing more participatory sessions, and welcome the general public to view our prototypes.

More details to follow and for more information please contact Liza (lizaht[at]sunway.edu.my / 60137678897) and Dr Yong (mhyong[at]sunway.edu.my / 03-7491 8622 ext 7165).

ProtoPolicyAsia Public Seminar on ‘Design in Healthcare’ and ‘Social Cognition in Malaysia’s Elderly’

ProtoPolicyAsia’s Lead PI, Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves and Malaysia PI, Dr Yong Min Hooi recently presented a public seminar at the United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) on Thursday, 4th July 2019. The seminar was attended by approximately 25 attendees from various academic institutions in Malaysia.

Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves presented on design in healthcare whereby he introduced a range of international case studies about the role of design in shaping the relationship between health, wellbeing and urban environments for now and in the future. With the rising number of older persons in the population, the number of people living with long-term conditions and diminishing resources to support healthcare has led to a significant shift in where and how healthcare is delivered. One challenge is how to reduce the cost and burden of disease, particularly of non-communicable disease, by focusing more research work around prevention and looking at how design can be useful in such causes. Dr Emmanuel also related his presentation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal #3 on “Good Health and Well-Being” and discussed well-being in relation to density, deprivation and walkability. Another interesting study shared by Dr Emmanuel was the Dust Bunny which aims at exploring hygiene practices in different home environments in Ghana to understand the home as a source of infection of AMR bacteria carried by dust. Lastly, Dr Emmanuel included the topic on Speculative Design and the ProtoPolicyAsia project.

Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves

The next speaker in the public seminar was Dr Yong Min Hooi, who presented empirical evidence collected from the Malaysian and UK populations comparing age and culture differences on Theory-of-Mind (ToM) tasks. The first study shared by Dr Yong was the “Theory-of-Mind in Malaysia: A Behavioural and Eye Gaze study on Age-Related Differences”, a study funded by the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS), Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia. The study examined the affective and cognitive ToM in older and young adults using Movie for Assessing Social Cognition (MASC) in an Asian population. The second study shared by Dr Yong was the “Social cognition and Executive Function among Older Adults in the UK and Malaysia: Links to Socioeconomic Factors”, which was funded by the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund, British Council UK and MIGHT Malaysia. In her presentation, they investigated the effects of age (young vs. old adults) and culture (Western vs. Asian) on the interpretation of social cues across a range of different measures of social cognition, and executive function across different cognitive measurements.

Dr Yong Min Hooi

Both speakers commented about the challenges faced by older persons and how we can promote healthy ageing practices, either through design or awareness on specific deficits associated with ageing. Further, these challenges have a wide ranging impact from policy-makers to individuals caring for their aged parents. Overall, the seminar attendees were very engaged and provided good feedback during the presentations, suggesting that these topics are easily relatable to their home/work environment.