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A museum gallery is filled with large, undulating partitions composed of colorful threads. Through the nearest partition, a man can be seen leaning forward to smell scented objects housed in glass domes. A sign on this partition reads "Inclusive Environments".
The Senses: Descriptive Audio Tour
Ellen Lupton, co-curator of the exhibition The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, provides a descriptive audio tour through two dozen projects in the exhibition, with step-by-step guidance for visitors with blindness or low vision. Approximately 30 minutes. Part 1: Getting Started Part 2: Shaping Sound Part 3: Tactile Library Part 4: Wrapping Up (Also available on Soundcloud)....
The Architecture of Deafness: On the Subversive and Dignified Architecture of the Deaf School
Written by Jeffrey Mansfield Set in picturesque Casco Bay in southeastern Maine, Mackworth Island is a peculiar knob of land. It is a place I have known since I was a child: to the Deaf community it is known for The Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, to the locals for its hiking trails and...
Cooper Hewitt Takes on Verbal Description
Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition The Senses: Design Beyond Vision (April 13–October 28, 2018) is one of our museum’s early explorations in developing exhibition design that is accessible to all visitors, including people with sensory differences. Many museums do a good job making their facilities wheelchair-accessible and meeting basic ADA requirements, but it’s another matter to offer...
Photo of Walei Subray. He is seated, and holds a microphone in one hand and a cane in the other. He has a thoughtful expression.
Design and Agency: When Design Fails the Disability Community
Written by Walei Subray Born in Egypt and raised in New York City, I’m a classic New Yorker. The only difference about me is that I drag a 58-inch black cane across the streets and sidewalks. That’s because I was born with a progressive eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. As a child, I could see...
Drawing by Touch
Written by Steven Landau As a company of designers and producers of tactile maps and models, Touch Graphics, Inc. usually focuses on products that communicate spatial information through the sense of touch for use by visually impaired students and museum visitors. Occasionally, the company develops tools to support blind artists and scientists.  One of our...
Designers are Optimists: A Snapshot of Contemporary Design
Persistent advancements in materials and technologies, based increasingly on science as well as on the imagination of individuals, has produced a large body of work defined as contemporary design. Much of it has to do with the way things are made, often using new processes. We have mastered assembly-line mass production as exemplified by such...
In the upper left the words: "Design for Access: Cooper Hewitt Co-Lab." Along the bottom pictures the New York University torch logo with the words "NYU | Ability Project." In the upper right, a 3D-modeled rendering of the Carnegie Mansion in pink, blue, and turquoise. All text and images set against a gray background.
The Ability Project: Empowering People with Disabilities Through Design
Written by Claire Kearney-Volpe In 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities presented the Ability Project with the ADA Sapolin Award for their “fearless and innovative approach to developing tools that will improve the lives of people with disabilities.” The Ability Project builds relationships and designs...
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...