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Service design to become a world leader in disability and inclusion with UNSW


The challenge

While one in five Australians live with a disability, accessibility and inclusion is an afterthought for many institutions planning and implementing the experience of their service.

The University of NSW wanted to do more than meet the legal requirements for accessibility and inclusion on campus, they wanted to set a world standard—both as a tertiary educator and as an employer of choice.

Impact opportunity

UNSW had a Disability and Inclusion Action Plan, but it was missing the input of people living with a disability.

Today used a human-centred design process to address the knowledge gap in lived experience, and to direct the prioritisation of the action plan with a clear path to implementation.

The process

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Today partnered with access and inclusion experts Funktion, to co-deliver this project. This allowed for an approach combining our human-centred design process, and input from experts in the field, to create a human-centred access and inclusion strategy.

Client testimonial

They did a fantastic job creating a safe and secure space for UNSW students and staff to be honest, and openly share their lived experiences in the focus groups. We felt confident knowing this information would then be used to develop a meaningful and relevant Disability Inclusion Action Plan strategy moving forward.

The students and staff experience maps were a powerful tool to clearly outline students and staff journeys on campus. UNSW gained deep insights in their fears, joys, what worked and where we had to improve. The ‘high risk solution briefs’ were also helpful to paint a clear picture of the priority areas, the challenges and recommended solutions to address each priority area. I thank Funktion and Today for their thorough approach to our project.


With 2000+ staff and students who have disclosed that they are living with a disability working and studying at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), it’s vital that their needs, desires and expectations are at the forefront of planning, development and implementation of UNSW initiatives.

We heard and observed a wide variety of personal stories during our engagement activities.

The staff and students we engaged during the project displayed significant fortitude, determination and positivity for a better future. An overwhelming number of participants described their primary motivation for engaging with the project as a desire to help improve the UNSW experience for future students and staff members like them.

Understanding the challenges and planning strategically

UNSW staff and students-with-disability are required to contend with a number of challenges on a daily basis. These challenges vary widely, from small bumps in the road to significant barriers blocking them from effectively completing tasks and reaching their full potential—and in severe cases, discontinuing their UNSW experience altogether.

We developed a strategic framework to help guide the planning of actions and strategies for the future (using the foundations developed in the UNSW Disability Action Plan). This focussed on outcomes and goals in:

  • Policy and planning
  • Learning and teaching
  • Digital and IT
  • Built environment
  • Student life and
  • Workplace environment

Behavioural archetypes help institutions see people as people

A behavioural archetype is a model of human responses to experience. They provide an aggregate view of behaviours and influences, providing insight into who does what, why and how.

In order to design, develop and implement solutions for people, it’s useful to understand and empathise with how they behave, and what their needs and challenges are. The behavioural archetypes developed for this project highlight the six primary behaviours uncovered and are representative of both staff and student behavioural traits.

Inclusive futures

There’s an incredible opportunity at UNSW to deliver an inclusive future for staff and students.

The final set of artefacts were accompanied by a roadmap, split into three phases, covering the following 18-24 months and beyond. The roadmap and potential solutions were directly informed by the staff and student engagement activities and sector expertise, and prioritised in collaboration with UNSW.


We developed a clear, prioritised pathway for how to allocate budget to become a world leader in accessible tertiary education across the built environment, learning and teaching, student life and digital.

Photography by Chrissie Hall.


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