Making Disability Modern: Design Histories

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Edited by Bess Williamson and Elizabeth Guffey

Making Disability Modern: Design Histories brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplinary and national perspectives to examine how designed objects and spaces contributes to the meanings of ability and disability from the late 18th century to the present day, and in homes, offices, and schools to realms of national and international politics. The contributors reveal the social role of objects - particularly those designed for use by people with disabilities, such as walking sticks, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs - and consider the active role that makers, users and designers take to reshape the material environment into a usable world. But it also aims to make clear that definitions of disability-and ability-are often shaped by design.


“This book makes visible often-obscured aspects of human life, the built environment, and societal factors that materialize through design, disability, and their intersections over history and across continents.” –  Meryl Alper, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, USA,

“A fascinating collection of critical cultural histories of disability objects, woven together with a narrative of 'the modern' and its connotations in society, industry and design. We need more books like this to connect disability studies and design.” –  Graham Pullin, Professor of Design and Disability, University of Dundee, UK,

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