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


When: Until 3 September 2018
Where: Cooper Hewitt, 2 East 91st Street, New York
How much: Full US$18 / Concession US$9
More info: Access+Ability website

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.