Reading Response: “Design Meets Disability”

“Design depends largely on constraints”, is among the most important arguments that is suggested by Graham Pullin in his book. Pullin quite strongly asserts that “good design” requires that the designer values simplicity over all other attributes of the design. This is an interesting point to me, because while I agree that it is important that the user is able to navigate using the design easily, there has to be a more holistic way to approach design. To an extent, the aesthetics of a design and its functionality can be interconnected, as we observed in a previous reading.

Pullin delves into the realm of designing for disability, and a crucial aspect of his argument regarding how “disability inspires design”, is that design in this framework aims to attract minimal attention and intends for the user to blend into their surroundings. This notion of presenting oneself as “normal” implies that there is something to be ashamed of in the first place. Pullin weaves in the example of glasses as a design that is successful in the sense that it eyewear is not associated with disability, due to certain fashion and media sensationalism that normalized this design. The fact that glasses are so successful as a design though, is not strictly due to their functionality, but rather to how people began perceiving them as products and items of fashion – when they are mainly designed for a certain disability.

After reading up on all the examples the text provides, Pullin’s argument regarding the importance of simplicity in designing a product became more vivid. When less emphasis is placed on the aesthetics of a product or design, perhaps more will go into “mak[ing] a design more accessible”.

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