Design meets disability

Pullin, G. (2009). Design meets disability. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

A powerful, important book. Eyeglasses made the switch from shameful medical appliance, which is how the British National Health Service labeled them, to revered fashion item, so much so that people who didn't need glasses would wear them anyway. If eyeglasses can do it, why not hearing aids, wheelchairs, or walkers? Change stigmas into desirables. Moreover, as the proponents of universal design have long proclaimed, meaningful design aids everyone.

Consider the visually impaired - which means you, yes you with the perfect eyesight. If you are in a really tedious, but important meeting, do you dare sneak a look at your wristwatch or phone? No: you have to look as if you are paying full attention. You are visually impaired. So why not a timepiece that gently vibrates the time to you? All of us have impairments at one time or another: why not design for them, helping both ourselves and those who have them permanently. But because we are all impaired one way or another. As we grow older, through both accident and age, all of us will accumulate changes in our abilities, so why not embrace the designs that help us? Make them fashion accessories, make them objects of pride.

This is a powerful book, for not only does it send a strong, welcome message, but it does so with elegance, complete with wonderful photographs aimed at stimulating the imagination and the creative mind. Not all the illustrations are about disabilities. Not all disabilities are disabilities.

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