book_section-coverThe topic of design for disability is a complex issue on a number of levels, but it’s also an incredibly rich one.

Designers in the industry appear to treat disability design to as a novelty. Consequently the best lifestyle improvements for the “impaired” is to allow them the facility to excel within society. Through this lens, the World Health Organization’s definition of “disability” seems a little condescending to the “disabled,” but horribly unfair for society since most of the impact of society on the “impaired” is anything but negative.”
 The important/crucial point in the WHO definition is that disability is created through an interaction between an individual impairment and society. According to this view, it is society’s structures that create disability. For example: a wheelchair user does not have a disability until he arrives at a place where there is no ramp. As such, it is important to be mindful of the way that society actively (if not intentionally) creates disability.

IMG_9836In Design Meets Disability, Graham Pullin applies a lens to a field where most of us look away. The book is broken up into two broad sections: Initial Tensions and Meetings with Designers. In the early sections Pullin addresses the tensions between the medical community (which tends to address impairment) and the design community. Later chapters such as “simple meets universal” and “identity meets ability” begin to address crossover products

IMG_9833Disability and the action of design for “impairment” is an area largely neglected in the field of design, this book, even though some of which is hypothetical gives us an insight into what might be if the world’s best designers focused on user-centered outcomes that weren’t consumer driven. Pullen identifies four defining characteristics of common design by users that underlie this shun from disability design, the number of consumers, the diversity of their background, the lack of company constraints, and the fact that consumer designers actually use the designed product all contribute in building positive perceptions.