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Book Reference: ‘Design Meets Disability’ by Graham Pullin

This has been the MOST helpful resource so far. Pullin so distinctly draws on the impact that technology has on our identity and how other more established technologies clearly changes the way society sees them. E.g. ‘eyewear’ as the prime example. After reading this, I feel much more confident with the area that I am going into. There is still work to be done. Stigmas that need removing. Technology that needs to be redesigned or rethought. There’s so much room for improvement.

P.XI. ‘How many other examples design for disability might that be said of?’ This was stated when looking at Charles and Ray Eames’ beautiful leg splint designs. Pullin was saying how not many other designs for disability are made to look as elegant.

P.XIII. ‘Trickle down effect whereby advances in mainstream design are expected to eventually find their way into specialist products for people with disabilities, smaller markets that could not have supported the cost of their developments.’ It’s usually that mainstream design slowly reaches disabled people but sometimes (rarely) it’s the other way round.

P.XV. ‘A richer balance between problem solving and more playful exploration could open valuable new directions.’ This is where the design is at.

P.1. ‘Any language used to describe the issues around disability is understandably0and rightly- politically charged.’

P.1. ‘The World Health Organization recognises disability “as a complex interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the environment and society in which he or she lives.” Adopting the World Health Organization’s classification, … I will use impairment to refer to a “problem in a body function or structure.’

P.2. ‘An environment or society that takes little or no account of impairment, people’s activities can be limited and their social participation restricted. People are therefore disabled by the society they live in, not directly by their impairment.’ Social model of disability.

P.3. ‘Here, I will try to avoid the term user because it sounds too functional, too focused on a task, whereas products also affect us by being owned, carried or worn.‘ Important; the word ‘user.’

P.4. ‘But might flesh coloured prostheses and miniaturised hearing aids send out tacit signals that impairment is something to hide?’ hiding vs highlighting disability. Fashion is important.

P.4. ‘This has come about not just by involving the skills of designers but also by adopting the culture of fashion.’

Sun glasses and eye glasses. Sunnies are cool. What could the equivalent be for insulin pumps / pens? Heroin?

P.15. ‘ The priority for design for disability has always been to enable, while attracting as little attention as possible.’

P.15. ‘The approach has been less about projecting a positive image than about trying not to project an image at all.’

P.15. ‘But is there a danger that this might send out a signal that disability is after all something to be ashamed of?’

P.15. ‘It is more difficult to define a positive image purely from these perspectives.’

P.15. ‘Eyewear is one market in which fashion and disability overlap.’

P.15. (eyewear) ‘Addresses a disability, yet with little or no social stigma attached.’

P.15. ‘Perhaps fashion with it’s apparent preoccupation with an idealised human form is even seen as having little to say about diversity and disability.’

P.16. ‘The very fact that mild visual impairment is not commonly considered to be a disability, is taken as a sign of the success of eyeglasses.’

P.16. ‘Medical appliances and their wearers as patients’ Wrong words!

P.17. ‘Attempting camouflage is not the best approach, and there is something undermining about invisibility that fails: a lack of self confidence that can communicate an implied shame. It is significant that glasses continue to coexist with contact lenses, which do offer complete invisibility.’ Do not do camouflage. There is no shame.

P.19. ‘Eyewear positions glasses more as an item of clothing than as products.’ Glasses; all different frames, shapes colours. Fit the design to the wearer, give variety and choice. ‘Diabeteswear’ ‘pumpwear’ ‘needlewear’ ‘pancreaswear’.

P.23. ‘For many hearing-impaired people, their inability to hear clearly is far more socially isolating than the presence of their hearing aid.’

P.23. ‘Where total invisibility is impossible, the last resort has been to mold hearing aids in pink plastic, betraying a white, Western bias in itself.’

P.27. ‘What it means to design a hearing aid changes if normal human ability is being surpassed, not just restored, and the design plays an additional role in expressing these augmented capabilities.’

P.27. ‘Like Jewelry, the design seeks to complement the body rather than attempt to be camouflaged against it.’ Why are pumps on the belly? The specific design goes further (hearing aids and glasses)

P.29. ‘In some ways it is the body itself that is being redesigned.’

P.29. ‘Mullins could be said to have become an icon of the capable and glamarous disabled person, yet she is clear herself that the best thing she can do for people with disabilities is not be thought of as a person with a disability.’

P.31. ‘Her legs have a beauty of their own, not just as objects, but also in relation to her body and posture.’

Different people have different needs however. a rock climber with a prosthetic leg and an athlete with a prosthetic leg would have different goals and would need the design to be different.

P.35. ‘But a hand is more than a tool – it becomes part of the wearer’s body image, a visual as well as a functional termination of their arm. Yet the design of the split hook barely acknowledges the wearer’s body or their clothing.’

P.37. ‘And for the people around them, I wanted the prosthetic hand to be an object of healthy curiosity, a work of art.’

P.37. ‘It seems important to continually challenge existing approaches, just as this is the way in which every other area of design, art and science progresses. All too often attitudes are spoken of as if homogeneous “Amputees want discretion” Well not everyone, not always.’

P.38. ‘More confident and accomplished design could support more positive images of disability.’ This would play a part in the representation of people with a disability. Captain hook representation. What examples are there of those with insulin pumps?

Maybe don’t try and solve a problem just yet, just explore materials, beliefs and ideas.

What could diabetes technology look like in the home environment vs the office environment. Just like glasses; contacts for work, glasses for home? The element of choice needs to be given!

What if there was a shop that you could go to to try on different diabetes technology and browse?

P.113. ‘There is an increasing recognition that controversy can be employed to challenge and change attitudes. ‘ This could relate to devices standing out.’

P.183. ‘Disabled people do not all share a single experience, even of the same impairment; likewise, designers in the same discipline do not follow a single approach or hold the same values.’


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