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Cooper Hewitt’s ‘Access+Ability’ Exhibit Celebrates Inclusive Design

03.15.2018 by Jenna Lippin
By Jenna Lippin

Open through September 3, 2018, Cooper Hewitt’s “Access+Ability” exhibition features a collection of the most innovative products, projects, and services developed from the concept of inclusive design. The selections featured were all created with the goal of helping those with physical, cognitive, and/or sensory disabilities to lead more independent lives.

With more than 70 highlighted designs, “Access+Ability” includes smart technologies, adaptive clothing, and new takes on everyday devices to assist with daily routines. Selections include:

• A collection of Prosthetic Leg Covers designed and manufactured by McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda for ALLELES Design Studio. The wide variety of colors and patterns offer the ability to shop in the same way we choose clothes.

• The Emma Watch developed by Microsoft researchers Haiyan Zhang and Nicolas Villar that uses haptic vibration technology to allow users with tremors to regain the use of their hands.

• The LOLA (Laugh Out Loud Aid) app created by Tech Kids Unlimited that engages youth on the autism spectrum to learn digital tools and collaborate through technology.

•The R82 Scallop Chair designed by Keria Gwynn and R82 and manufactured by GEFA. The portable seating element adds extra support when enclosed around a child’s “pelvis and trunk,” providing stability without preventing movement and offering sensory feedback to help create a sense of calm.

•The Blindways app from the Perkins School for the Blind that picks up where GPS falls short, guiding pedestrians who are blind through the "last 30 feet of frustration" to bus stops using community crowdsourced clues.

•The inclusive Los Angeles County Voting Booth (prototype; to be produced for the 2020 election) by IDEO, Digital Foundry and Cambridge Consultants, addresses all types of voters, including people unfamiliar with technology, speak languages other than English, are hard of hearing or have limited vision, use wheelchairs, and/or have learning disabilities.

Several products designed by Michael Graves are featured in the exhibit as well, including the Stryker Prime TC Transport by Stryker Medical, an innovative and more user-friendly model of the standard wheelchair. Also featured by Graves is a suite of shower accessories including a trellis grab bar with shelf, sprayer holder, and hook designed for Moen in 2016. The square grab “bar” featured multiple touch points to prevent slipping by both adults and small children, initially intended to help people with low vision to find the soap and a secure place to grasp.

Visit i+s’ Facebook and Instagram profiles to get a first-hand look at the exhibit.