Design meets disability

April 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

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

Graham Pullin is a lecturer in Interactive Media Design at the University of Dundee. He has worked as a senior designer at IDEO, one of the world’s leading design consultancies, and at the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering, a prominent rehabilitation engineering center in the United Kingdom. He has received international design awards for design for disability and for mainstream products.

“There is huge potential for innovation in the daily lives of disabled people. Graham Pullin’s timely and inspiring book describes a wide range of design challenges; many of these sound niche at first – but have broad potential. What are needed are off-the-wall thinking, design craft, and engineering brilliance — plus disabled people as expert co-designers”. –John Thackara, Designer and author of ‘In the Bubble‘.

Don Norman also wrote a  short review on the book:

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.

Design Meets Disability on

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