CoDesign for Inclusion

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Since September, Kelton Minor has been situated at the codesign research cluster as a Denmark-US Fulbright Fellow, facilitating the meeting of Participatory Design and Inclusive Design in Denmark. 

Is disability engendered by design?

For the past eight months, I have been engaging in a series of conversations with various stakeholders across Denmark who find fascination in the thematic areas of design participation and/or inclusive design. As a visiting Denmark-US Fulbright fellow situated within the codesign research cluster, I am exploring a new view of disability and design that strives to look beyond the predominant business model of disabled people as objects for consumption towards an emergent framework of differently-abled persons as co-designers of inclusive futures. This shift in approach requires a reconfiguring of pervasive popular conceptions of disability. Perhaps it is time to collaboratively construct a new model?

There are many different ‘formal’ models of disability. Medical models, minority models, social models, business models and other configurations describe disabled bodies differently, in terms of individual impairments, body politics, social constructions and consumer potentials. Contemporary design paradigms of disability draw heavily on these varied models to highlight the extended nature of cognition in the environment and the capability of design to affect both the physical manifestation of ability (barriers/access) and the social construction of ability (exclusion/inclusion). Inclusive Design and Universal Design are two sibling design paradigms that emphasize the importance of designing for all so as to simultaneously increase access and minimize the stigma of designing for a few. Curiously enough, these approaches seldom discuss the accessibility of the design process itself and rarely encourage the active participation of diverse individuals in designing for social inclusion.

What if persons with disabilities were viewed as expert citizens capable of generating extra-ordinary knowledge as opposed to mere consumers of exclusively designed artifacts?

Clearly, this question raises both possibilities and controversies, and identifies a need for multidisciplinary discourse.

In order to kindle a discussion between Inclusive Design and Participatory Design, I have been working together with the CoDesign Research Cluster (CODE), Design for Alle Network (DfA) and DESIS Lab of the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) to co-organize a one day seminar as an occasion for much needed conversation.

Please see the next post for the official seminar invite, we hope you can lend your voice to the discussion!

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