When in the summer of 2016 Biodiversity, one of the biggest foundations in Bulgaria approached me and asked for a service design consultancy, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of my clients come from corporate and startup world.
The foundation was about to open a summer adventure green school for kids in Uzana, the geographical center of Bulgaria. That sounded like a great idea, but what was even better is that they wanted to use inclusive/universal design in order to make the school and all activities accessible for kids with special needs.
We had a team of 20 experts with a different background: marketing, PR, scenario writing, ecology, journalism, graphic design - all have spent already a week at the location in order to get to know the local flora and fauna.
My teammate Ivelina Gadjeva and I had to make all these people walk into the future visitors shoes for the empathy to happen. We had a pretty weird shopping list, even by design thinking standards: spikes, flags, duct tape, whistles, plastic cups, and around ten different types of glasses, recreating varied eye conditions.
Some participants had their arms clocked with duct tape, some wore glasses and off we went to the forest. They all had to follow the spikes we have nailed in the ground beforehand and find hidden treasures.
Design thinking workshops are usually fun to attend. This one makes no exception, but it went much deeper making participants empathize with the future visitors with disabilities of the green school. At the end of the project, we had a number of great ideas about future inclusive activities.