A blog about universal and accessible design
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"Art and Abilities" - an annual special exhibition/event at the University of Michigan.
Online slide show about web accessibility, by Ann McMeekin.
Cool thing: via Designing Well, a 1949 film clip of the "Step-Saving Kitchen," with a reminder of how many of these suggestions (standard postwar scientific management stuff) would be considered "universal design" today (music added by YouTube user and is not original):
Easy-to-reach shelves and storage, cookbook page holder, pull-out work surface to sit at, and a rolling cart. Not to sure about those drop-in cooking surfaces though...
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Some restaurants that lack elevators, or that have stairs without proper hand rails, train their staff to look out for the handicapped and help them enter. But, in my experience, most do not. I know of many clubs in wonderful older buildings, often ones that are landmarked, that have little or no access for any level of the disabled. I wonder if the general feeling is that a landmarked building is exempt from the ADA.We are looking for comments and examples of accessibility issues from all who visit our site. Please remember that at any hour of any day, any of you could join us handicapped—temporarily, I hope—due to a sprained ankle, a bike injury, or other chance accident. Leave your public comments using the form below [here], or e-mail your examples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The call is for New York complaints, mainly -- but it would be interesting to see a central spot for accessibility watches. I wonder what the most common access issues are, in ADA compliant, noncompliant, and exempt spaces?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Poster designed by three Delcastle, Delaware high school students for Disability History and Awareness Month. One of the team drew on her own disability experience in the design, which I find very clever. It must have been fun making up handwriting for all of those people! Read about it here.
Photo description: the poster reads "Don't Label Me As a Failure!" in block letters, with a lot of colorful "Hello, My Name Is ___" stickers below with the names of famous people with disabilities - ranging from Helen Keller (with a smiley face) to Jay Leno (dyslexia), Dan Ackroyd (Tourette's Syndrome) and Thomas Edison (Deaf).
Thursday, October 1, 2009
In access hacker Liz Henry report on visiting Whirlwind Wheelchairs - a great review of the work Whirlwind does making wheelchairs for (and in) developing-world contexts - she describes conversations about sharing DIY tinkering/engineering info. One of the Whirlwind folks mentions having piles of plans and materials but no where to put them; they also discuss how many people have small technical solutions that could be shared with fairly simple instructions, but no easy way to distribute. Liz writes,
I ended up feeling like we were all talking about a similar vision and project. A central repository, managed by a trustable institution that won’t go away, with the information portable, translatable, and with room for comments and input and tagging. Phase 1 might be simply scanning rather a lot of information and sticking it up somewhere that it could be indexed by search engines. Metadata could be added and good OCR correction done on the PDFs, by people hired from a grant and/or by volunteers coordinated in the manner of open source software projects. Phase 3, probably at the same time as phase 2, would be builders and makers, trying some of the projects and posting feedback, which might just be a photo or two of the build or the result, with a paragraph of description. Phase 4 we can think of as the times people improve on an original design in their subsequent builds.
I think Liz really hits on one of the big issues in assistive technology development: information and access. My sense is that there are parts of the design world who are interested in simple instructions, easy DIY products (like ReadyMade, which publishes simple home/furnishing hacks as well as selling mail-order kits; and the whole Make/Instructables world). It really strikes me that this is what Graham Pullin's Design Meets Disability misses (though it raises other interesting issues) - the reality of how people get things, afford them, make them. I'd love to see more about groups like Whirlwind that operate outside of the giant medical technology company world. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that they are operating outside of the US health care system.
Speaking of David Serlin, he is giving a talk called “Touching Histories: Personality and Disability in American Sex Studies of the 1930s” at U Penn next week, on October 6: info here.