At Accessibility Scotland 2017, Graham Pullin @grahampullin discussed how accessibility is often, is usually, framed in terms of removing barriers and solving problems. And in the light of so much exclusion, this is of course a valid and important perspective. Yet there are other frames of mind in which to engage with inclusion: more open-ended; more open-minded.
This talk will introduce examples of exploratory projects such as Social Sewing and the Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective, that open up new possibilities for access, to services and to each other.
So good morning, I’m delighted to be here.
I think that was a nice introduction from Kevin that I’m gonna try and connect to accessibility, but it might be a little bit tangential at times from traditional notions of what that is, but I think that’s what I’m expected to do, isn’t it?
That’s fine. So that’s good.
Just by way of introduction, I guess a little bit of background about myself and also about the other protagonists in my talk in a minute.
I can’t see the screen on here.
Right. So I am a design lecturer at DJCAD, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee where I teach interaction design and product design students.
It’s part of an academic group that we call social digital.
But I also do practice like research that’s nearly always disability related.
And I guess the other way of describing it is, it’s becoming increasingly about the nuances in disability design.
And they’re quite diverse.
All of my projects look at the nuance of tone of voice, of speech technology used by people who can’t speak through augmented communication and the other is looking at the nuance of materials selected for prosthetic hands.
But it’s nearly always nuance involved. But before I went up to Dundee to become an academic, I was a design practitioner. So I was working in for a consultancy called IDEO in London and San Francisco. I’m getting a… That presumably is speak louder rather than.
Audience member: Yes, please.
Two thumbs is awesome.
One thumb is yes, speak louder.
Okay. I was a designer and studio head at a consultancy called IDEO in London and San Francisco and I guess we did what we called a human-centered, people-centered design and accessibility was part of a certain inclusion was a strong part of that, but in different ways on different projects.
Just to give you one example, we designed a mobile phone for Vodafone, in the early naughties.
It was called Simply and it was aimed at people in their 40s and 50s who weren’t adopting, or if they had bought, were not using.
That was more Vodafone’s motivation.
Mobile phones at the time were pre-smartphone.
And yeah, I think we had sort of a tagline borrowed from Steve Jobs.
Trying to design a mobile phone for the rest of us.
And yeah, I think that makes me think of that line of William Gibson’s, that a picture being already here, but just not evenly distributed and we certainly felt that there was an element of that looking at the inclusion and engagement with mobile communication at that kind of time at the turn of the millennium.
So of course, there were some accessibility issues in a traditional sense on the project.
I’m now at the age where I’m doing all our interview medias were doing at the time we were interviewing.
I take my glasses on and off all the time.
And so not only was clear typography and legibility important, but also an acknowledgement that most of the time you only have one hand for the phone because the other one is manipulating your glasses at the same time.
So those kind of complex issues were part of the project.
But it wasn’t just about typeface, even though he commissioned a bespoke type of smartphone with these very. See this?
This kind of dates the project, doesn’t it?
This is the screen resolution and there’s buttons and cursors and things. But a lot of it was cultural as well.
It was expressing the interfacing that made sense to people who weren’t particularly into mobile phones.
And even organizing it on that basis and organizing it in terms of how people thought about what they wanted to interact with rather than how it was organized within the phones.
So we had, for example, we had all loads of communication organized by person.
So rather than going somewhere for your voicemails in the interface and somewhere else for your texts, all of those things would be grouped together under the person that they were involved with and that seemed to make a lot more sense to this group of people who were quite comfortable with that part of all their communication into the way that the phone thought about the world, if I can put it that way.
And, but then, with this particular group, there was quite a lot of anxiety.
There were quite a lot of form of psychological accessibility issues rather than developed physical accessibility.
So we ended up dedicated an entire dedicated button on the top left hand part of the phone just to get you out of menus if you felt that you got lost and you couldn’t get back.
And actually, that was all about the reassurance, the literal navigation that seemed really important.
We had too many people with their existing phones that they actually had to resort to switching it on and off again to get out of the nth layer of menu that in those days mobile phones dictated that you end up navigating.
I didn’t really.
For me, the really interesting thing on, I guess starts to touch on the nuances of accessibility.
Of course, there was a very strong fear of social embarrassment.
They were very significant in the lives of the people we were interviewing anecdotes about their phone or a friend of theirs phone embarrassing them in social situations by ringing inappropriately.
And at this point in time, the trouble was that you sort of had to dive down into that labyrinthine, byzantine menu structure.
Get four levels deep and understand that the word profiles was where you were going to find a setting that enabled you to switch the ringer off.
And so a lot of the people we were talking to didn’t even know that function existed on their phone and as a result of that, the only surefire way they could, they had to to make sure their phone didn’t embarrass them was to switch it off altogether, which was not great news for our client.
And yet this was a commercial project.
So we were being paid to design a phone that people would keep switching on and use and generate revenue for the phone
At this point, as a connection across to another project we were doing in our spare time at IDEO at the time called social mobiles, which is a very different type of project.
It was what’s often described as a critical design project.
We were very interested in the issue of the antisocial use of mobile phones and the way that about, around about this time of the millennium, mobile phones were becoming more ubiquitous and they were becoming more influential in all of our experiences of public spaces.
It was always other people’s mobile phones that were to blame, of course because we were often genuinely inadvertent, unaware of the disruption they were causing to others.
So we did this project called social mobiles, which as yeah, a satirical collection of five phones, each of which changed their user’s behavior in more or less subtle ways to make it less socially disruptive.
So I’m here on London Bridge using a phone that requires, like a public performance, dialing a number.
And what you can’t hear is a cacophonous cordy sound not unlike bagpipes, actually. comes out the horn there that’s based on the DTMF dialing tones at the time.
And the kind of idea behind this is if it feels inappropriate to do this, then it’s probably inappropriate to make a call.
You couldn’t stand up in a cinema and make a call on this phone or in a restaurant.
You would need to be somewhere fairly noisy and where you weren’t going to disrupt people.
So the act of dialing is a litmus test of whether it’s appropriate to make a call.
We had other even less subtle phones in this series.
There was even one that gave you electric shocks depending on how, actually not depending on how loud you were speaking on the phone, but how loud the other person was speaking.
So it was all mutually assured destruction. If either of you raised your voices.
And again, it was, you know, these phones were not designed to be commercial products, although sometimes we enjoyed pretending that they were.
They were there to see to discussion.
But they were good actually.
They seemed to work.
We had a one page article in the Economist about this very issue from the Exon science writer, Tom Standich, who was their technology correspondent.
And probably more to the point, the project was hanging around in our studio space at the same time that we were working with Votophone.
So it was, although it was tangential, it was this nice reminder, little provocation each time they were in our studios about just how important etiquette was, particularly to this group that we were designing for.
And so, the final phone, for all its other flaws, it had something that I’m still quite proud of.
We had a little switch on the side of the phone that could switch the ringer off directly and not only did you not have to dive into the boiler’s menus, but you could just have a little look at the switch when your mobile phone was still in your handbag or your pocket.
Just you feel for it just to check probably 10 times a minute in sensitive circumstances.
And yet I’d like to argue that’s an accessibility feature. It certainly felt that way to the people we were designing with and for.
And yeah, now it’s amazing that it’s still on smartphones, even with the richer and in many ways more direct interaction that they support.
So back to Dundee.
Obviously, in my role as a teacher of undergraduates in design, one of the things I’m passionate about is to introduce them to the broader issues of accessibility.
I’m not an accessibility expert.
If you don’t realize that right now, I’m sure I’m going to make it clear with something else very soon.
But yeah, to get our undergraduate students to embrace the idea of inclusion.
And I mean, it’s something we’re all wrestling with so it’s really tough for students who are still engaging with or developing this design to take part.
To the approach I’ve followed down the years has often been this, to actually get them to start with an individual rather than a population.
And so, I’ve run a module called Objects for Grand People where a whole class of interactions and product designs, just pick one older person.
Rather than designing for older people as a group because conversations that are framed in that way tend to descend into stereotypes really really early on.
Each of the students takes one of their grandparents or if they don’t have access to one or there is no longer a grandparent alive, a friend of the family of the same generation.
And they work with them and they understand them and they bring them back to the studio metaphorically.
And so the class as a whole learn about the diversity of people in that age group collectively.
They learn about the diversity of each other’s grandparents. But then they design individually for those grandparents and that leads to a project where accessibility becomes part of the project rather than swamping the entire project and being the entire reason for doing it.
So this is Despina and she’s a seamstress in Athens in her 80s at the time of this project.
And she is the grandmother of Mike who is an interaction design student in his second year back in 2009 when this particular instance of the project was run.
And he’s now gone on to really great and interesting things. He went on to Royal College of Art and is an art designer in a research or an entrepreneur down in London.
And I’ll talk more about what else he’s gone on to do and how this might have influenced him.
First of all, I’m going to show a film that’s online actually before I do that.
So, Microsoft had an interesting portal about inclusive design.
They’ve got a group there that’s championing it within the company and they commissioned a film called Inclusive, the Film. I’m just going to show you.
Have we got time for 10 minutes, don’t we?
Kevin: It depends on how much more time you’re going to talk.
Graham: Yeah. How? I’ll switch the microphone off and I’ll ask Kevin how long he wants me to talk for. Yeah, we’ll go to this. So from the beginning it would be.
Graham: I’ll go back to the video.
Okay. So I think Mike and Despina do a very good job of explaining the project in their own words.
But this is available online if you want to go back and revisit it.
The URL I think is a more complicated one, but you can type in www.inclusivethefilm.com, all one word. If I can put it that way.
And that gets you to this site, but you then have to scroll down to the bottom right hand corner to find the film itself these days because because they’ve populated it with lots of other things in the meantime.
Kevin: Sorry, I can’t actually see the screen
Video narrator: Titles of your have sharpened images.
Kevin: Can you get full screen?
Video narrator: Microsoft design in partnership with cinema goes a long way in film. A figurine plays a violin.
Kevin: You kids make my life, sorry.
Kevin: Ah man.
Graham: Yeah, that’s fine.
Video narrator: In a black and white photo of a smiling young woman with short dark hair and sunglasses.
A vase contains white flowers.
An elderly woman marks pepper with chalk.
Several dozen schools display colored thread.
Sitting at a manual sewing machine, the woman pushes repeatedly on the treadle with one foot, rocking it back and forth as she feeds fabric under the pressure foot, the needle moves up and down.
A title. Inclusive, Interaction Designer Mike Vanis converses with a woman whose grandma in Greek.
Subtitles appear as they speak.
Mike: Do you remember when you used to work with Anna?
Grandma: Yes. Mike. Now you are on your own. I have to admit that I miss her company, but Anna has kids and family and has to stay at home.
Mike: Remember the different sounds of the workshop? Anna was doing the ironing. All these sounds were very nice.
Grandma: Indeed, it was company. It’s nice to work with someone you know.
Mike and his grandma sit in the living room together.
Scenes of grandma sewing appear.
A pincushion sits on a table.
Thread extends through the needle.
Grandma carefully pins a piece of fabric in place.
Decorative letters on the sewing machine spell Vesta.
Mike: We were asked to make a project about the future of working and focus on how older people work. What they told us to do though, which is not common, is to make a design for just one person of our choosing, so I chose you.
Grandma: Oh, you make me really happy.
In a city, pedestrians crowd a busy street. An aerial view shows Athens, Greece. Buildings form dense clusters around the hill that serves as the Parthenon. Mike and his grandma climb a circular staircase.
Mike: So normally as a designer, when you’re involved in a project that has awith people and you want to make sure that they capture a large variety of people so that you can get everyone to use these things. But actually in this project, it’s quite different.
Video narrator: They visit a dressmaker’s workshop. They exchange kisses with the proprietor.
Grandma: Hello, how are you? Let me introduce you to my grandson. Hello, Mikayo, how are you?
Grandma: Let me show you this room. The tables are on the other side.
Mike: Were you sitting in a different area?
Grandma: No, we were all together around here. We used to be 40 girls.
Mike: 40 girls?
Grandma: 40 girls.
Mike: Pick one person in your extended family and talk to them and really understand what work means to them, how they’re coping with not working after their retirement.
Video narrator: Mike’s grandma sews.
Mike: Just the sound of the sewing machine was complex enough to bring those memories, to really create a feel for the environment and to replicate it because a lot of the time, the way they would work is, they would stay completely quiet and not talk to each other, but they could hear each other’s sewing machines, they could hear each other’s sounds.
Video narrator: Mike sets two sewing machine replicas next to his grandmother’s machine. A small wheel inside resembling a sewing machine stop motion wheel spins.
Mike: Here we have two small sewing machines. Now imagine that each of these represents one of your friends.
Every time they press the pedal on the machine at home, this one moves and does the exact same thing and it has the same sound as her sewing machine.
If, for example, she’s making curtains, then the sound is very long.
Grandma: This is so nice. I really miss that company, to be honest.
Mike: That’s why I did this project, to remind you of the period that you were sewing together. It’s my honor.
Udita: Inclusive design is about considering the full range of diversity.
Video narrator: Udita Verona’s inclusive design research center.
Udita: It’s both an attitude and it’s a…
That’s, as you said, Trevor Vanis, I’m sure some of you know, but we’ll come back to her in a split second.
But as I was saying, there’s another bit that Mike talked about that must be at the end of the film.
Of course, hang on.
The film is nicely bookended by Mike and Despina’s project, so I think they’ve forgotten that the, this is right at the end.
Let’s see. Bear with me, sorry about this.
And there again.
Okay, I’ll just play it from here. It’s only a couple of minutes. There’s a nice bit.
Video narrator: At the playground with Susan Bolton.
Susan Bolton: You involve the public right from the beginning. You don’t have the design before you walk in to the public. But that doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to be able to create it because the public can only give you ideas. They’re not going to come up with the way in which you translate these ideas. That’s not their job, that’s your job.
Video narrator: Mike Vanis and his grandma hold hands as they enter a room with several dress forms clad in garments. Grandma fixes a ruffle on a white gown. Graham Pullman.
Graham Pullin: The role of the designer is an active part of that partnership and it’s as much for them to bring their idiosyncrasies and sensibilities to the table as it is to facilitate that inclusion. The heart of interaction design is not our interaction with technology. It’s our interaction with each other through technology. It’s not about us and objects. It’s about us and each other.
Grandma: Let’s drink our coffee now together. Cheers.
Mike: Mm, cheers. I made the coffee again.
Cut to black.
Graham: So I got that wrong as well because I think I must have missed it because there’s another really nice quote from Mike that must have occurred just after we left the film in the first place.
But it’s here.
I can’t describe it because it was so nice.
So yeah, Mike was on film saying;
If you start with a person, then this really amazing thing happens where they dictate the technology. You cut the surprises, you arrive at a place where the technology and the person feel so close and so intimate that you don’t actually see the technology anymore.
So that’s, I think that’s the…
Could this be aspiration for those of us designing the technology and foreign with people.
So, that was a second year project for Mike and so obviously, a formative part of his education.
I think it’s quite interesting as to where he went next.
The Greco Project was this.
It’s an object called acoustic poetry and the final year projects and our students are totally self directed and self conceived.
The tradition within an art college is to not have supervisors putting up projects for students to do, but the students do whatever they want on the basis of their interests, but also their career aspirations.
And so Mike did this product called acoustic poetry and it was looking at soundscapes and hearing impairment.
So acoustic poetry ended up being a box with someone who was profoundly deaf could carry with them, particularly when traveling and on holiday and some way of experiencing the soundscapes they were part of as well as the visual environment.
And the way it worked was that the box was opened to harvest the soundscape and then that was sent by a mobile phone link to someone who would describe the sounds back.
That person was a poet. It wasn’t just someone who could hear.
It was someone who could hear and then write a very evocative description of that soundscape.
And so, not just the information, but the way that was presented and the way that was framed and the experience of that information was a really important project.
Mike’s gone on to lots of other things since graduating in 2011.
And yeah, they’re not all about accessibility as such, but there’s always an element of that.
So he worked at a company called Technology Will Save Us, which were involved with the BBC and the micro bit initiative, looking at designing and distributing a small program called circuit board to et 12-year-old kids in schools throughout the UK engaged with yeah, engaged with computing in the 21st century.
So computing with a physical element to it, physical computing.
And he’s co-founded with his design partner Sidney Stroback a company called Unit Lab and they do a lot of work in terms of public engagement and particular schools engagement with science.
But he’s also a card carrying designer in the digital design community in London.
So at the same time as doing his other things, he’s just opened.
They’ve just opened an exhibition at the London Design Festival this week.
We were skyping into this from the studios in Dundee on Tuesday called Water and that’s pretty much the brief for the exhibition and they’ve invited some really interesting and thoughtful and exploratory designers to just respond to the theme of water and they’ve got that solution that’s curated in a gallery in Peckham somewhere at the moment as we speak.
And I think the reason that I’m showing you that is again, I think it speaks of the fact that his experience of that module is not becoming accessibility expert, or that’s not a focus on his career, but it’s still part of a career that’s just as open minded and open ended as it ever has been.
But a really important talent.
Oh, and he’s also now working at the Interaction Research Studio, which is a really interesting group.
For any of you who don’t know it, it was founded by Bill Gaver at Goldsmiths.
I mean, it’s still at Goldsmiths, but they do some really interesting work that combines both technology and collaborative participatory ethnography and design.
And I guess this is an extreme example, a nice example. I did a project with a community of Poor Claire Nuns where they.
This object here is called a praying companion and it streams newsfeeds into what is an isolated order.
This was obviously in collaboration with the nuns themselves, this wasn’t something that was forced upon them, this intervention.
In terms of giving them an insight into the world around them, that their vows preclude them from participating actively in if that makes sense.
It’s a really, very obviously deeply cultural project, but one again, that has a different slant that makes some connection with accessibility over that view. (Heavens above: Nuns’ prayer device features at Big Bang Data show).
And yeah, you saw her briefly on that video I think would be a cameo for a few minutes.
Udita was going to say;
diversity is the world’s “greatest asset and inclusion is our biggest challenge.
And I think that’s nice, the way that she groups those two things together.
You could do it the other way around.
The punchline is that diversity is an asset and I think that’s very inspiring for those of us working in this area.
Okay, how are we doing for time? Yeah.
So, I’ll speed up a bit now. I think I’ve always been interested in the relationship between ability and identity.
In the book that I wrote (Design meets Disability) exploring the relationship and often the gap between disability design and design in general is that there’s a chapter about simplicity and universality and that irony that sometimes paring something down and making it do less can make it more accessible, almost my definition, less things to all people if that makes sense.
Those things that are interesting and sometimes really create a tension.
But also, a very interesting relationship to ability and identity and I think the thing I like about the project that Mike and Despina did together was that there were accessibility issues there and I guess at the heart of it, Despina’s mobility impairment, the reason she no longer shares the with her friends is she can’t get across town.
She can’t travel daily to that environment.
And so, but then, but then the project is more about her identity than it is about her ability and the fact that she’s still a seamstress even though she is out sewing alone these days.
But that identity is a collective one.
It is co-created with her fellow seamstresses.
And we’ve explored other projects.
This is a project which I don’t have time to talk to you about about hearing impairment and making environments more inclusive through furniture as well as wearable devices.
We’re looking around the culture around deafness and recognizing the difference it is to embrace Deafness with a capital D than just hearing impairment and how that can influence and inspire design work.
And on that project, we look beyond the objects themselves to the signage that might alert people to the presence of it and again, very briefly.
Sorry to touch on it so flittingly, but looking at how this kind of technology could be represented in terms of the conversation of the support rather than with the intent of ideas, lines through them, or in something that referred to the impairment that it was there to address.
And I think that’s something that, again, a couple that write about this very deeply and actually very provocatively if you know them, Liz Decoy and Stephen Gillson at the University of Maine and they have a really thought-provoking book called Branding and Designing Disability, which is about the way that disability is not just defined but so represented is an interesting double-edged sword and so they’re actually pushing back on some of the traditional notions of inclusion and accessibility.
So that’s an inaccessible slide.
Sorry about the contrast on this one.
It says accessibility and identity, but this time, there’s a star next to identity because we’re thinking about identity in a different conversation in terms of that of sympathetic brand and company.
So here’s an interesting initiative called the Inclusive Fashion and Design Collective and you can find that at inclusivecollective.org and on the front page of their website, they’ve got a nice statement of intent.
This is what equity means to the inclusive fashion and design collective. Beautiful, functional, sustainable products. Genuinely listening to the wants and needs of people with disabilities and questioning the status quo.
So it’s being self-consciously set up as a disruptive influence in the world of fashion and design.
The person behind it or one of the people behind it, very much the instigator, is Liz Jackson, also known as the girl with the purple cane.
She’s had a very interesting.
You can find this readily online.
She’s got a campaign going and a very interesting interaction with J Crew in the states, the retailer’s putting pressure on them publicly in a conversation that is publicly aired as to why they won’t stock walking canes alongside the clothing and other items in their stores.
I think it’s interesting because it’s obviously, we’re willing for her to succeed, but even that conversation is so illuminating and it’s having an influence in itself because she’s publishing the interactions with the company and putting them online.
And then back to the Inclusive Fashion Design Collective.
This again is the, this is the first screen you hit.
And they’ve got a picture here, which is nicely kitsch actually and deliberately so. It’s very knowingly art directed, but there’s a glamorous woman in a fur coat and a walking cane hailing a cab in New York and if you hover on the image, the text says:
We aren’t sure why beautiful imagery has such dull descriptions. The IFDC is searching for talented and creative writers who are interesting in turning in descriptions into works of art. Poets, children’s book authors, novelists, rappers, and lyricists needed to come to mind. If you are interested in describing this photograph, will you reach out to email@example.com.
And I’m sure everyone in the audience will think of even better examples of this, but as someone who isn’t immersed in your field as much as you are yourselves, I thought this was really refreshing.
This was taking something that was a problem that had to be fixed and kind of turning it on its head and seeing it as much a part of the brand and the vision of the company and the collective as the image in the first place.
The image has been very highly art directed and knowingly so.
So why not the description as well?
So that seemed entirely fitting.
I also think it’s interesting.
It reminds me of Mark Garnis, his acoustic poetry.
It is not just about the information, about how, what noises you can hear an in environment.
It’s how they’re described.
That’s because they tried to create an experience. And the other thing that’s interesting about the inclusion and the inclusive fashion and design collective is that they’re actually very industry facing at the same time.
So they’re inclusive and so the brand is therefore for wearers. It has a very inclusive and democratic feel, but they know that a really important part of their audience are the brands they might influence, people like J Crew.
As I said, as Jackson has already deeply in conversation with and so there’s a statement about who they are and what they’re there for continues in other terms.
It says, that same.
This is what equity means to the Inclusive Fashion “Design Collective.
Your brand discovering the benefits of designing for the exception. Your brand reaping the rewards of marketing to diverse communities.
So they’re facing the existing fashion world as well as the people who are ill-served by that world trying to influence both.
And this is something that, again, is a really important part of design education in most disciplines and so it’s about realizing that brand isn’t about a logo or applied to an object or a surface.
It needs to run through the entire service from top to bottom.
And this is an example I like that my students find it very easy to relate to as well.
This is a book about visual identities for small business and it’s a film school in New York called Ghetto Film School, but the entire branding is achieved through gaffer tape and what’s nice about that is it’s not about how attractive or even how memorable it is.
It gets to the heart of not just the trade but the spirit and the point of view, the attitude of this particular company, so it’s something that comes from the inside out, rather than is applied on the outside in.
I was on a train yesterday going to Manchester and back and it was a Virgin train.
Have you been in the toilets in Virgin trains?
Yeah, that was a rather weird question to ask, wasn’t it?
Anyway, this one. I went in not for research purposes.
And again, inside and next to all the crossy dots with brail on that
I’m never quite sure how anyone would find them, let alone risk finding.
As soon as the door shut, there was a woman’s voice came over the tannoy and said;
“Please don’t flush nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones, unpaid bills, junk mail, your ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams, or goldfish down this toilet.” (Youtube video – Virgin Trains Toilet, Do Not Flush Away Your Hopes, Dreams or…Goldfish! )
And I don’t know.
Probably someone in the room.
Does anyone in the room know how that came about?
I’m imagining that the trigger might have been
“Ah, we’ve got to do an excess to do. We got to make that signage that tells you not to flush things down the toilet that’s on the toilet lid accessible.”
But yeah, whether or not you. I don’t know, I find it a little bit trying too hard, but the least you could say is that Virgin have embraced that and kind of made that, taken initiative of it, haven’t they?
They’ve made that issue in a path of their own brand.
It’s a little bit heavy handed, but it feels like that’s something that they’ve included as part of the whole experience, which feels like a really interesting precedent.
And I think I really am interested in brand, just as individuals, can provoke new ways of thinking about things.
I think it’s quite interesting to actually turn the tables and exploit the idea that brands, because of their values, can also be triggers and starting points for new ways of thinking about accessibility and disability-related design in general.
And so I think I’m just starting a PhD, or a student of mine is just starting a PhD looking at the design of hearing aids and I think, again, brands could be.
They’re quite interesting reference points.
What would it be if Apple, as it’s rumored is going to happen actually, if they were to design a hearing aid.
Immediately, since they have such an evocative brand, that starts a train of thought as to what that might be.
Conversely and in a complimentary way, if a brand like Paul Smith, these are examples taken from the book.
If they were to get involved in designing hearing aids, that would be a very different direction, wouldn’t it?
And I think the diversity of the directions that are indicated by different brands engaging with disability, accessibility, inclusion, diversity, I think is enriching itself, back to Yuta Treparanias’s comment.
There’s diversity in us as people, but there’s also diversity in brands and that’s a resource we can tap into actually to tap into new ways of thinking.
And at the moment, I’m just finishing off a pilot project looking at prosthetic hands and choice of materials.
And again, our starting point is looking at what’s happening in eyewear retail and design and actually using that as a provocation.
How much of that could we bring into the sphere of prosthetics?
Both in terms of the choice, but also in terms of the nuance of the word I used early on in the talk.
So it’s not about making loud statements with very flamboyant and eye-catching prostheses, but it is about the nuance of material choice and the cultural associations of eyewear that have now become so embedded in fashion that it’s been appropriated by the fashion brands themselves.
Thank you for listening.
Oh dear, sorry. I was hoping to finish with a bit more time for questions. But.
Oh no, no time for questions.