Thoughts from a reflective designer

Hi Everyone.

It's been a reflective couple of months. The recurring theme is there is so much to be done in the world and - guess what? - we have the ability to do it. Isn't that amazing? Every one of us has the ability to make the change we wish to see.

That being said, here are some musings on disability design that have been floating in my head the past month or so. For reference, "Mike" is Mike Harris, director of the Paralyzed Veteran's for America and good friend to ADAPT.

Mike harris, director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, speaking with attendees of the interdisciplinary design confrence // April 2016

Mike harris, director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, speaking with attendees of the interdisciplinary design confrence // April 2016

“Disability doesn’t discriminate.” This is Mike’s favorite phrase as a manual wheelchair user. And he’s right. Disability doesn’t care if you’re black or white, straight or gay, rich or poor. It can affect anybody at any time, but for some reason we don’t treat it that way—especially when it comes to design. We create buildings with the accessible entrance artfully hidden by a row of shrubs or found in a side alley. We create hearing aids to be as small and inconspicuous as possible as if it’s shameful to require one. We install bathroom sinks and locate the drain pipe in the center of the sink rather than to the side, even though this prevents wheelchair users from getting close enough to use it.

All of these examples come from wheelchair users speaking to student designers at an interdisciplinary design conference I organized last spring. We've identified (a few of) many problems. Now it's time to work.

- Laura, CEO