Project DIG (UNleash 2017-sdgs)


We are addressing the poor health, quality of life, and wellbeing of poverty-stricken persons, in ethiopia, with lower- limb disabilities, who are subjected to using their hands to move, leading to contamination and infections/wounds and spread of disease.

According to WHO (2015), over 70 million people live with disabilities worldwide , most live in developing countries, especially in rural areas where health services are inadequate and hard to access (ILO, 2013). A case in point, Ethiopia has one of the biggest number of persons with disabilities in Africa, estimated at 15 million, (17.6% of population) (CBM, 2015) of which 23% have leg disabilities (DCDD 2017). Approximately 85 percent of people with disabilities live in poverty and can’t afford existing solutions for mobility e.g wheel chairs or crutches. Infrastructure in rural areas are not adapted to their condition and available solutions have failed to identify the constraints of the environment. This problem is prevalent in many different countries as attested by UNLEASH talents and practitioners in disability management.

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Our solution is to create a physical protective garment, and physical and digital platform where people with disabilities can co-create protective garments.

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By Using local resources (repurposing rubber from discarded tires), community members can create durable protective garments, at little to no cost, by learning from the platform’s community; thus creating a sustainable ecosystem. The garments will protect them from further physical injury while reducing the risk of infection and contamination. 

Through the physical and digital platform, 

those with disabilities will be able to create their own garments, offering them a space to be reintegrated into society and also creating potential job opportunities. The digital platform, will provide people with a hub for community and business 

engagement, while improving visibility and productivity of people with disabilities in Ethiopia.


While there are existing companies and organizations that have proposed and provided people with Lower-limb disability (LLD) solutions to improving mobility, most of these products are too expensive and scarce for the 95 percent of people living with disabilities in rural areas within Ethiopia. Currently, there are no sustainable solutions as many of these products are not locally produced, making them too costly to access and maintain and too difficult to scale. With our unique physical and digital platform, we will be providing people with practical and feasible knowledge, allowing them to create their own garments, engage with their community, and de-stigmatize disabilities.

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Meet the Team!



Molly Bonnell, Eric Biguyi, Gavantsa Khizanishvili, Maria Smolar, Katalina Park, & Maereg Wagnew

Together, Project DIG (Designing Inclusive Garments), was created to meet the UN SDGs. 1000 talents, from around the world, were selected to participate in a two-week innovation lab in Denmark where participants would ideate, brainstorm, prototype, test, and pitch their solutions to a panel of judges from UNICEF, the Carlsberg Foundation, Prime Minister of Denmark, and so on. 


Button Box

by Sam Azzarro, Alice Formwalt, Zhenhao Huang, Katalina Park, Jennifer Tis, Reynaldo Wu


Our project is designed to target a demographic group including, though not entirely limited to, the “technologically challenged” elderly population of New York City. We address the design issue of visually focused communication systems which cater to younger users who are familiar with or readily able to learn how to use technologically advanced digital devices and systems. Visual communication devices, such as smartphones, Skype, Facetime, and Google chat, often overwhelm older users due to their lack of modern technical knowledge. Most of the time, this leads the elderly to completely reject these methods of communication or become reliant on others to help them directly utilize these technologies. As such, we propose a methodological solution that will provide the elderly the ability to utilize visual communication systems on their own with relative ease.

Testing Script PDF

Testing Results & Lessons Learned

Storyboard & Workflow


Physical & 3D Printed Protoype 

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Chopsticks 4 arthritis


Everyday tasks and chores pose further challenges for those with arthritis. One particular problem amongst people with arthritis, is that existing culinary utensils, specifically chopsticks, are extremely difficult to use. 

This project stemmed from a personal experience. My grandfather suffers from severe arthritis and often complains about problems he has with zipping jackets, buttoning clothes, tying shoes, and using chopsticks!

User Personas & scenarios 

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Wireframes & prototypes (lo-fidelity -> high-fidelity)

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