The Brilliant Objects Embodying the Meeting of Disability and Design

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Design Meets Disability by Graham Pullin is about interdisciplinary thinking and how design for disabled people and mainstream design could inspire, provoke, and radically change each other. Via MIT

Since 2009 there has also been the start of a revolution in manufacturing technology and its accessibility. Which is very welcome: Assistive technology has been typically constructed from welded metal and vacuum-formed plastic, befitting the medical engineering workshops of hospitals. More affordable CNC mills, laser cutters, and 3D printers now enable complexity and accuracy in even — and especially — small batch and made-to-measure production.

But this might compound a tendency for disability design to be seen as an activity for hobbyists in home workshops. Although that workshop might contain a 3D printer, this is no guarantee of the quality in design that disabled people deserve. Working with disabled people themselves and often alongside those with technical skills, I would still argue that designers and architects have a valuable contribution to make.

The democratization of the maker movement can at times embrace a refreshing pragmatism. And design activism can empower individuals and communities. Yet the ethos of any project can be further expressed through design sensibilities, if these are included. And you can usually tell if they have been.


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