Disability Section: Recognizing People of All Abilities 

Disability is an important part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that deserves more attention, understanding, and action for change. This section will provide a necessary platform to advocate and facilitate an industry shift to designing with and for people of all abilities.

People with disabilities comprise nearly a quarter of the world’s population, and correspondingly a quarter of product users. The Disability and Design Section will provide an opportunity for the industrial design community to connect with and learn more about the lives of people within this frequently overlooked demographic. This section will also serve as a platform to share information about designers, companies, and products which support the disabled community through thoughtful, innovative design and progressive equity practices. Additionally, this section will highlight the successes and challenges of disabled students and professionals in the industrial design world.

Industrial Design is a human-centered profession that has the potential to ignite significant change and equity for the disabled community through the design of universal products, spaces, and experiences. The section will help educate the IDSA community about the challenges that people with disabilities face, and the advantages of allyship. This insight is particularly important for designers working in the medical product space, where users with disabilities are often the significant majority.

This section will also highlight the problem-solving prowess of people with disabilities. Out of daily necessity, this population devises creative ways to navigate environments, systems, and products which weren’t designed with them in mind. Engaging with the intersectionality of design and disability will mutually benefit the lives of individuals affected, as well as the development of the products they use. This section will be led by industrial designers with disabilities, who have lived experience in both worlds, and will cover the following topics:

  • Stories, challenges, and successes of disabled ID students and professionals
  • Academic institutions/courses focused on disability and/or universal design
  • Universal Design
  • Intersection of disability, human factors, healthcare & medical product spaces
  • Intersection of disability & healthcare / medical product spaces (combined above)
  • ADA policy
  • Academic and employment accommodations
  • Ableism and best-practices to prevent it
  • Do’s and don’ts / successes and failures of accessible design
  • Companies, studios, independent designers, and products that support the disabled community
  • Highlight IDEA award winners that solve problems for people of all abilities


Disability News & Events


Emily Siira, IDSA, Chair
Nancy Perkins, FIDSA, Vice Chair