About the exhibition

“Fills one with real optimism…”—New York Times

There has been a surge of design with and by people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Fueled by advances in research, technology, and fabrication, this proliferation of functional, life-enhancing products is creating unprecedented access in homes, schools, workplaces, and the world at large. Access+Ability features over 70 innovative designs developed in the last decade. From low-tech products that assist with daily routines to the newest technologies, the exhibition explores how users and designers are expanding and adapting accessible products and solutions in ways previously unimaginable.

Highlights

A selection of objects featured in the exhibition.

Accessibility at Cooper Hewitt

In 2017, Cooper Hewitt committed itself to a campus-wide effort to broaden audiences and ensure the museum is welcoming to all. Toward that end, the museum is using its galleries and resources to raise awareness of accessible design innovation, inspire dialogue, and leverage the museum’s role as a design hub to promote problem-solving in support of inclusivity.

Cooper Hewitt offers a variety of access services and programs so that everyone may enjoy the museum to the fullest extent possible. Visit our Accessibility at Cooper Hewitt page to learn more.

Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access

Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access will take place in the first two weeks of February in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery, which will become a hub for conversations, activities, workshops, and events for all ages and communities on the topics of accessibility and inclusion. Collaborators will include the San Francisco-based studio Creative Growth, Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab, Google, and Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s Program.

supporters

A list of supporters of the exhibition and Cooper Hewitt Lab: AARP, Ford Foundation, August de los Reyes, Esme Usdan Exhibition Fund, Master's Program Fund, plus NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities

from the blog

Printing an Elegant & Fashionable Brace
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 15, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. Designed to help prevent further curvature of the spine, UNYQ Align is an elegant and fashionable scoliosis brace that combines digital...
An Inspired and Empowering Hearing Device
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 15, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. How can you make a hearing aid both elegant and functional at the same time? Stuart Karten Design introduced the Zon...
A High-Performance Prosthetic
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 16, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. The Flex-Foot Cheetah incorporates untraditional materials to solve a design problem that had vexed the medical field for years: finding a...
Highway Reads
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 15, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. The Clearview typeface is a beautiful example of the way design helps to improve people’s daily lives. A product of the...
Image of Paul Orselli, President and Chief Instigator, POW! and blogger ExhibiTricks, standing to introduce himself during a panel discussion at Cooper Hewitt. Audience members and panelists look on. Paul wears a red t-shirt with the words "Museums are not neutral" printed on it.
Lab | Universal Design Panel with Museum Access Consortium
The seven principles of Universal Design (1997) provide a philosophy and framework for creating inclusive and accessible places and experiences. The workshop brings together educators, curators, and spatial and interactive designers to examine how exhibition developers have used Universal Design in their work for museums and sites of life-long learning. Panelists include: Steven Landau, Research...
Getting a Grip on User-Inspired Design
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 15, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. Peeling potatoes is tedious enough without having to do battle with ill-designed kitchen gadgets. Why hadn’t these objects evolved to accommodate...
Image of panel discussion from Access + Ability symposium
Lab | Showcase of Student Projects on Accessibility and Inclusion
University-level students were invited to submit design ideas for a premier showcase of student projects on solutions for improving accessibility or inclusion. All accepted entries will be on view in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery from February 5, 2018 through February 25, 2018. Students present their ideas, and a panel of experts discuss...
LAB | DESIGNING ACCESSIBLE CITIES SYMPOSIUM: Morning Session
Building a more inclusive city is a design opportunity. Join us for a day of ignite talks and critical discussions presented in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office for Disabilities to explore the barriers that make cities inaccessible and the innovations that promote intentional user-focused design. Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access is a free programming series...
LAB | DESIGNING ACCESSIBLE CITIES SYMPOSIUM: Afternoon Session
Building a more inclusive city is a design opportunity. Join us for a day of ignite talks and critical discussions presented in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office for Disabilities to explore the barriers that make cities inaccessible and the innovations that promote intentional user-focused design. Moderated by Victor Calise, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People...