Investigating Normal: Assistive and Adaptive Design for Interdependent Futures

Part seminar in disability studies and part design laboratory, this course introduces students to design by, with, and for people with atypical bodies and minds. We'll read deeply in the history of disability rights, the construction of normalcy, and theories of personhood and human worth that span the domains of philosophy, anthropology, feminist criticism, and more. And we'll examine the long inventive tradition of making and remaking the built world enacted by disabled people in design at all scales: curb cuts, telecommunications, closed captioning, kitchen tools, and beyond. Students will produce small experimental proposals in designing pragmatic forms of access and in interrogative cultural projects—for solving problems, when called for, and for asking larger investigative questions. Fabrication opportunities will include: modest product-scale independent experiments, plus one larger team-based project with external collaborators resulting in a proposal, scale model, or design-build bespoke objects, as relevant.


Up to eight seats will be held for MDes students.

This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.