Providing a major platform for the growing movement toward accessibility and inclusive design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum presents products, projects and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive and sensory—that expand their ability to lead independent lives and engage more fully in the world. On view Dec. 15 through Sept. 3, 2018, the “Access+Ability” exhibition features more than 70 works, from adaptive clothing and eating implements that assist with daily routines to apps and “smart” technologies that aid in social interactions and navigating the environment.

“Cooper Hewitt is committed to accessibility in its broadest sense, with exhibitions and programs that involve all communities in thinking about how design can empower users,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “The diversity of works on view in ‘Access+Ability’ embrace the latest developments in digital technologies and fabrication methods, along with a user-driven focus on enhancing what people can do when given the opportunity. In partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the exhibition will be accompanied by our first-ever Cooper Hewitt Lab, a two-week-long series of programs in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery to further the dialogue about inclusive design.”

“Access+Ability” will be installed in the museum’s first floor Process Galleries and organized into three sections: Moving, Connecting and Living. To inform the selection of objects, co-curators Cara McCarty, Director of Curatorial at Cooper Hewitt, and Rochelle Steiner, Curator and Professor of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art & Design, University of Southern California, engaged with users, designers, caregivers, activists, occupational therapists and neuroscientists, among others.

From increasingly versatile canes and customized prosthetic leg covers to shirts with magnetic closures and shoes with a wrap-around zipper system, the exhibition shows how products created over the past decade are not only becoming more accessible and functional, but fashionable. Through the integration of groundbreaking assistive technologies, 3-D printing and haptic feedback, new design solutions are also extending sensory perception, providing new ways to navigate and negotiate the environment, and promoting greater access to sports and recreation.

A variety of interactive elements will be installed throughout the exhibition to engage visitors, underscoring the importance of prioritizing users throughout the design process. These include: Blindways, an app designed and developed by Perkins School for the Blind, which guides pedestrians who are blind to bus stops using community crowdsourced clues; the eye-tracking, speech-generating devices of Tobii Dynavox, which enable hands-free communication and computer access; and several of Apple’s accessibility apps that operate via Switch Control, VoiceOver or voice-command software.

In an effort to respond to the proliferation of new products, a gallery adjacent to the exhibition will be devoted to several rotations of new work as well as crowd-sourced suggestions of innovative, accessible objects and services. The museum will also host a stimulating, ongoing online conversation on, with contributions by prominent figures in the accessibility movement.

Highlights of objects on view include:

  • Racing Wheelchair, 2016, designed by BMW Designworks, in collaboration with athletes Tatyana McFadden and Chelsea McClammer. Using 3-D scans, the wheelchairs were customized to improve aerodynamics, safety, durability and ergonomics, leading McFadden and McClammer to win four medals in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
  • PillPack, 2013, designed by Gen Suzuki and collaborators at IDEO, a service that assists people with managing multiple daily medications, pre-sorting and organizing medication into pouches, labeled with the day and time for each dosage.
  • The inclusive Los Angeles County Voting Booth (prototype; to be produced for the 2020 election), 2015, designed by IDEO, Digital Foundry and Cambridge Consultants, addresses all types of voters, including people unfamiliar with technology and who speak languages other than English, who are hard of hearing or have limited vision, in wheelchairs, and with learning disabilities.
  • Prosthetic Leg Covers, ca. 2011, designed and manufactured by McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda for ALLELES Design Studio, which adorn and add a human silhouette to prostheses in a large variety of colors and patterns and the ability to shop in the same way they choose clothes.
  • Emma Watch, 2016, developed by Microsoft researchers Haiyan Zhang and Nicolas Villar, is a wearable device that uses haptic vibration technology to allow users with tremors to regain the use of their hand.
  • The SoundShirt, 2015-16, designed by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz for CuteCircuit, translates the experience of listening to music for the deaf and hard of hearing. By embedding 16 sensors corresponding to each part of the orchestra—strings, woodwinds, percussion, etc.—into the fabric of a specially designed shirt, music is felt as an immersive experience of tactile sensations.
  • Developed by Tech Kids Unlimited, LOLA (Laugh Out Loud Aid), 2015, is an app that engages youth on the autism spectrum to learn digital tools and collaborate through technology.
  • From a partnership between Cooper Hewitt and Pratt Institute, a selection of six products that students designed in 2016 in collaboration with CaringKind, a nonprofit dedicated to Alzheimer’s caregiving, to meet the needs of the community with empathy and care.


The first-ever Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access, taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery, will be a hub for conversations, activities, workshops and events for all ages and communities on the topics of accessibility and inclusion. Programs include a Designing Accessible Cities Symposium, which will unite policy makers, designers and educators as well as the public. Additional programming includes an installation of student projects from universities nationwide; Teen Access Design Challenge; Visual Description Storytelling Salon with Columbia University; film screenings in partnership with ReelAbilities; Museum Access Consortium Universal Design Workshop; Accessibility Hackathon with Google Cloud Machine Learning APIs; Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s Program; and Creative Growth Rug-Making Workshop. More information and a full roster of events will be posted on

“Access+Ability” and Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access are made possible by major support from AARP and Ford Foundation.

Funding is also provided by Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund, Cooper Hewitt Master’s Program Fund and August de los Reyes.

“Access+Ability” and Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access are presented in partnership with New York City’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.


The exhibition “Access+Ability” and Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access are part of Cooper Hewitt’s greater, ongoing effort to broaden access and awareness to its campus, exhibitions, programs and online presence. From wheelchair accessibility to sign-language interpretation to touch tours and braille signage, the museum offers a variety of services for visitors who are deaf or have limited mobility or vision loss. Morning at the Museum, a free program for visitors with cognitive and sensory processing disabilities, takes place on select Saturdays one hour prior to the museum opening. For more information, visit

about cooper Hewitt, smithsonian design museum

Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Housed in the renovated and restored Carnegie Mansion, Cooper Hewitt showcases one of the most diverse and comprehensive collections of design works in existence. The museum’s restoration, modernization and expansion has won numerous awards and honors, including a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a Gold Pencil Award for Best in Responsive Environments and LEED Silver certification. Cooper Hewitt offers a full range of interactive capabilities and immersive creative experiences, including the Cooper Hewitt Pen that allows visitors to “collect” and “save” objects from around the galleries, the opportunity to explore the collection digitally on ultra-high-definition touch-screen tables, and draw and project their own wallpaper designs in the Immersion Room.

Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden and Tarallucci e Vino cafe open at 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, and are accessible without an admissions ticket through the East 90th Street entrance. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Public transit routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street stations), the Second Avenue Q subway (96th Street station), and the Fifth and Madison Avenue buses. Adult admission, $16 in advance via, $18 at door; seniors, $10 in advance via, $12 at door; students, $7 in advance via, $9 at door. Cooper Hewitt members and children younger than age 18 are admitted free. Pay What You Wish every Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m. The museum is fully accessible.

For further information, call (212) 849-8400, visit Cooper Hewitt’s website at and follow the museum on, and

“ACCEss+Ability” Fact Sheet: FEATURED PRODUCTS AND designers

Accessible Icon; 2009–11; Designed by Tim Ferguson Sauder (American, born 1972), Brian
Glenney (American, born 1974), and Sara Hendren (American, born 1973); Accessible Icon
Project (Malden, Massachusetts, USA, founded 2012)

Morph Wheels; 2007; Designed by Duncan Fitzsimons (British, born 1982); Manufactured by Maddak Inc. (Wayne, New Jersey, USA, founded 1971)

Stance Lower Limb Prosthesis (Prototype); 2016; Designed by Anthony Ta, Brendan Ngo, Darren Manuel, and Simple Limb Initiative; Manufactured by Simple Limb Initiative

Motivation Rough Terrain Wheelchair; 2005; Designed by Motivation (Bristol, England, United Kingdom, founded 1991); Manufactured by Merits (Taichung City, Taiwan, founded 1987)

Racing Wheelchair and Gloves; 2016; Designed and manufactured by Designworks Los Angeles Studio (Newbury Park, California, USA, founded 1972) and Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) (Munich, Bavaria, Germany, founded 1916)

Prime TC Transport Wheelchair; 2011; Designed by Michael Graves Design Group (Princeton, New Jersey, USA, founded 1964) & Stryker Medical (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, founded 1941); Manufactured by Stryker Medical (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, founded 1941)

Walking Stick System; 2015; Designed by Michael Graves Design Group (Princeton, New Jersey, USA, founded 1964)

Chatfield Walking Cane; 2012; Designed by Matthew Kroeker (Canadian, born 1976);
Manufactured by Top & Derby (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, founded 2012)

OMHU Cane, 2009; Designed by Rie Nørregaard (Danish, born 1967) and Allen Zadeh (American, born 1968); Manufactured by Ohmu

IQ Stick, 2005–6; Designed by Hilton Beck (Australian, born 1960)

Los Angeles County Voting Booth (Prototype; to be produced for 2020 election); 2015;
Designed by IDEO (Palo Alto, California, USA, founded 1991), Digital Foundry (Tiburon,
California, USA, founded 1992), Cambridge Consultants (Cambridge, England, UK, founded

Superflex Aura Power Suit (Prototype); 2016; Designed by fuseproject (San Francisco,
California, USA, founded 1999) and Superflex (Menlo Park, California, USA, founded 2016);
Engineered fabric, motors, batteries, control boards; Courtesy of fuseproject

SmartCane (extended and folded); 2014; Designed by IIT Delhi (New Delhi, Delhi, India,
founded 1961) and Saksham Trust (New Delhi, Delhi, India, founded 2003); Manufactured by Phoenix Medical Systems (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, founded 1986)

Soundshirt and Sound Miniskirt; 2015–16; Designed by Francesca Rosella (Italian) and Ryan Genz (American) for CuteCircuit (London, England, UK, founded 2004)

Here One Wireless Earbuds; 2016; Designed by Jacob Palmborg (Swedish, born 1984) for
Doppler Labs (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 2013)

Wayband (Prototype); 2017; Designed by Keith Kirkland (American, born 1980), Kevin Yoo
(American, born 1993), and Yangyang Wang (Chinese, born 1987), WearWorks (Brooklyn,
New York, USA)

Maptic (Prototype), necklace and bracelets; 2017; Designed by Emilios Farrington-Arnas
(British, born 1994); Polycarbonate, internal electronics, braided cord; Courtesy of Emilios

Zon Hearing Aid; 2008; Designed by Stuart Karten (American, born 1957), Paul Kirley
(American, born 1967), and Dennis Schroeder (American, born 1963) for Stuart Karten Design (Marina del Rey, California, USA, founded 1984); Manufactured by Starkey Laboratories (Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA)

Bedazzled and Bejeweled Earring Aid; 2014; Designed and manufactured by Elana Langer
(Canadian, born 1975)

SafeWander Bed-Exit Alarm Sensor System; 2015; Designed by Kenneth Shinozuka (American, born 1998) and Masato Mizuta (Japanese, born 1986); SensaRx, LLC (New York, New York, USA, founded 2014)

AccessNow Map; 2015; Designed by Maayan Zin (Canadian, born 1990)

Blindways; 2016; Designed and developed by Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown,
Massachusetts, USA, founded 1829)

Tobii Dynavox EyeMobile Plus with Communicator 5 Software; 2017; Designed and
manufactured by Tobii Dynavox LLC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and Stockholm, Sweden, founded 1983)

Tobii Dynavox I-12+ with Sensory Eye FX; 2013; Designed and manufactured by Tobii Dynavox LLC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and Stockholm, Sweden, founded 1983);

Path Finder; 2014–17; Designed by Lise Pape (Danish, born 1981), Florian Puech (French,
born 1989), Mikolaj Dymowski (Polish, born 1984), and Ashley Bryant (British, born 1967);
Manufactured by Walk With Path Limited (London, England, United Kingdom, founded 2014)

Path Feel; 2014; Designed by Lise Pape (Danish, born 1981) and Florian Puech (French, born 1989); Manufactured by Walk With Path Limited (London, England, United Kingdom, founded 2014)

Emma Watch (Prototypes); 2016; Designed by Haiyan Zhang (Australian, born 1978) and
Nicolas Villar (Colombian, born 1980); Manufactured by Microsoft Research, Microsoft
Corporation (Redmond, Washington, USA, founded 1975)

BrainPort Vision Pro, Vision Aid; 2017; Designed and manufactured by Wicab, Inc. (Middleton, Wisconsin, USA, founded 1998)

Untitled drawings, 2017; Emilie Gossiaux (American, born 1989), using BrainPort Vision Pro

I Wonder What it is Like Being Dyslexic; 2013; Designed by Sam Barclay (British, born
DATE); Printed by PUSH (London, England, UK, founded 1986)

UNO ColorADD; 2017; Designed by Miguel Neiva (Portuguese, born 1969) with Mattel (El
Segundo, California, USA, founded 1945) and ColorADD (Porto, Portugal, founded 2010);
Manufactured by Mattel (El Segundo, California, USA, founded 1945)

Inclusive: A Microsoft Design Toolkit and Support Cards; 2015; Designed by Kathleen (Kat)
Holmes (American, born 1977)

HumanWare Brailliant BI 40 Braille Display; 2011; Designed and manufactured by HumanWare (Drummondville, Quebec, Canada, founded 1988)

AbleNet Blue2 Switches with Apple iPad; 2016; Designed and manufactured by AbleNet, Inc. (Roseville, Minnesota, USA, founded 1985)

Prosthetic Leg Covers; ca. 2011; Designed and manufactured by McCauley Wanner (Canadian, born 1986) and Ryan Palibroda (Canadian, born 1980) for ALLELES Design Studio (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, founded 2013)

Hands of X; 2017; Designed by Graham Pullin (British, born 1964) and Andrew Cook (British, born 1984), Corinne Hutton (British, born 1970), Eddie Small (British, born 1951), Riina Òun (Estonian, born 1984), Josh James (British, born 1995); Fabricated by Hands of X (Dundee, Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England, UK)

Simple Music Player; 2014; Designed by Lyndon Owen (British, born 1959), Maurice Thompson (British, born 1951), and Bruce Barnet (American, born 1952); Manufactured by E2L Product Limited (Monmouth, England, United Kingdom, founded 1998)

Joy for All Companion Pet, Dog, 2015; Designed by Hasbro (Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA,
founded 1923)

Joy for All Companion Pet, Cat, 2015; Designed by Hasbro (Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA,
founded 1923)

Apple Homekit with iPhone 8 Plus; 2017; Philips Hue Go; 2015; Designed and manufactured by Philips (Amsterdam, Netherlands, founded 1891) and Apple (Cupertino, California, USA, founded 1976)

PillPack; 2013; Designed by Gen Suzuki; Collaborators: Colin Raney, TJ Parker, Matt Kaiser,
Elliot Cohen, Mimi Chun, Jessica Im, Tyler Wortman, IDEO (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA); Manufactured by Power On Mould (Dongguan City, China, founded 1996)

AdhereTech Smart Pill Bottle; 2016; Designed and manufactured by Mike Morena, John
Langhauser, and Josh Stein for AdhereTech (New York, New York, USA, founded 2011) and
Intelligent Product Solutions (Hauppauge, New York, USA, founded 2008)

Match Cooking Prep System (Prototype); 2012; Designed by Amanda Savitzky (American, born 1989)

Liftware Level and Steady; 2016; Designed by Anupam Pathak (American, born 1982);
Manufactured by Verily Life Sciences (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 2015)

S’Up Spoon; 2015; Designed by Grant Douglas (Scottish, born 1974), Mark Penver (British,
born 1990), and 4c Design (Glasgow, Scotland, founded 2002); Manufactured by Protolabs
(Telford, England, UK, founded)

LOLA (Laugh Out Loud Aid) App; 2015; Designed and developed by Tech Kids Unlimited (New York, New York, USA, founded 2009)

Adaptive Puffer Jacket; 2017, Designed by Mari Anderson Bogdan (American, born 1975);
Manufactured by Target (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, founded 1902)

Trig Compression Socks; 2014; Designed by Matthew Kroeker (Canadian, born 1976) and Ben Grynol (Canadian, born 1981); Manufactured by Top & Derby (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, founded 2013)

MagnaReady® Magnetic Shirt; 2013; Maura Horton (American, born 1969); Manufactured
by MagnaReady® (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, founded 2013)

Väärtus Series: Ora Ring, Bänd Ring, and Nippu Keychain; 2013; Designed by Rowan
Liivamagi (Canadian, born 1985)

The K-2 Assistive Device; 2016; Designed by Evan Kuester (American, born 1991);
Manufactured by 3DSystems (Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1986)

Ivania 2.0; 2014; Designed by Evan Kuester (American, born 1991); Manufactured by
3DSystems (Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1986)

Men’s Zoom Soldier IX FlyEase; 2012; Designed by Tobie Hatfield (American, born 1960);
Manufactured by Nike (Washington County, Oregon, USA, founded 1972)

Wheelchair-Accessible Pool (Spiral Pool), Jikka Housing Complex, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan; 2015–19; Designed by Issei Suma (Japanese, born 1976), SUMA (Tokyo, Japan, founded 2011)

Shower Trellis Grab Bar; 2016; Designed by Michael Graves Design Group
(Princeton, New Jersey, USA, founded 1964); Manufactured by Moen, Inc. (Cleveland, Ohio,
USA, founded 1956)

Afari, 2010–14; Designed by Elizabeth DePoy (American, born 1950) and Stephen Gilson
(American, born 1950); Manufactured by Mobility Technologies (Brunswick, Maine,
USA, founded 2016)

Morgan’s Inspiration Island Splash Park, San Antonio, Texas, USA; 2017; Designed by Gordon Hartman (American, born 1963)

Magical Bridge Playground, Palo Alto, California, USA; 2015; Designed by Friends of the Magical Bridge, Peter Jensen, RHAA, and Verde Design

Tobii Dynavox Indi with Snap Scene, 2017; Designed and manufactured by Tobii Dynavox
LLC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and Stockholm, Sweden, founded 1983)

R82 Scallop; 2016; Designed by Keira Gwynn (Welsh, born 1993) for R82; Manufactured by
R82 Inc. (Parallelvej, Gedved, Denmark, founded 1987)