Access + Ability at the World Economic Forum

Equal access is a rights issue affecting over 1 billion people with disabilities globally, and this year the World Economic Forum has chosen to highlight the importance of disability inclusion as one of their main messages.

Cooper Hewitt, America’s Design Museum, has been chosen to display a special exhibition, ‘Access + Ability,’ at the Congress Centre in Davos. It features 20 products, projects and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive and sensory—that expand everyone’s ability to lead independent lives and engage more fully in the world.

Originally organized by Cooper Hewitt, this adaptation is a collaboration with the Smithsonian and the World Economic Forum. From increasingly versatile canes and customized prosthetic leg covers to adaptive clothing 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 functional and fashionable, but also offering choice. Through the integration of ground-breaking assistive technologies, 3-D printing and haptic feedback, new design solutions are also extending cognitive abilities and sensory perception and providing new ways to navigate and negotiate the environment.

Director of the Museum Caroline Baumann spoke at the event on 22 January presenting stories of inclusive design and best practices with the educator, writer and advocate Sinéad Burke, and has written for the World Economic Forum on how good design makes the world more accessible for all. Read it here.

[ Photo credit: Earring Aid, Bedazzled, 2014. Designed by Elana Langer. Swarovski crystals, e6000 glue, hearing aid. Gift of Elana Langer. Photo: © Hanna Agar. ]