Prosethetic Leg Cover, ca. 2011, designed by McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda.


A watch that utilises haptic vibrations to help those with tremors regain the use of their hands; playgrounds designed for wheelchair access; a sensor-embedded shirt that translates the experience of music into vibrations for those who cannot hear; a bodysuit that assists people in relearning how to walk; an eyesight-navigated tablet that helps those with muscular dystrophy navigate the web.

These are just some of the 70 items on display at Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition Access+Ability, which aims to explore how technology, innovation and design can empower, change lives and even create a more inclusive society. Objects for wear and use designed for people with a range of mental and physical abilities are on display, divided into categories of the physical, the cognitive and the sensory. The exhibition highlights items that move beyond typical clinical, utilitarian responses, and are beautifully designed objects in their own right, such as Alleles Design Studio‘s intricately patterned prosthetic leg covers that act as an extension of the wearer’s wardrobe.

Main image: Prosthetic Leg Cover, ca. 2011, designed by McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda. Image courtesy Cooper Hewitt.

Where: Cooper Hewitt, 2 East 91st Street, New York

When: Until 3 September 2018

How much: Full US$18 / Concession US$9

More info: Access+Ability website


Recent Articles

  • Radical Families

    "When ‘family’ is unshackled from ‘nature’ and ‘biology’, and hitched instead to ‘choice’ or ‘artifice’ or even just to ‘love’, then the possibilities are endless.” Naomi Stead considers what is radical, what is family and questions how the limited stock of conventional family housing can serve, and impact, the potentially limitless arrangements of radical families
  • From URL to IRL

    Let's not get so caught up in the promises of 'smart cities' to forget that we live material lives. In the latest instalment in a series of articles from our West Coast partners 'Future West' (Australian Urbanism), Dr Sarah Barns, research fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society, considers putting digital to work in shaping great places
  • Share Yaraicho

    Crises are opportunities for rebuilding resilience. In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, the need to counter social isolation with close-knit communities gave the impetus to the first purpose-built share house in Japan. Emily Wong spoke to Satoko Shinohara of Spatial Design Studio about Share Yaraicho