A Disabled Designer’s Use of Technology to Facilitate the Design Process
Michael A. Kahwaji | University of Notre Dame
When a person’s body begins to degenerate it is not the deformation that is difficult to deal with, it is the necessity of having to adapt to these alterations that is frustrating. Imagine having to learn how to write your name again or having to get help combing your hair, making breakfast, or even bathing. As humans, we all to often take for granted the ability to do these everyday simple tasks.
Studying industrial design can be intense and rigorous for the healthiest person; everyday tasks such as sketching and model making are pertinent to the design process. As for being a physically challenged individual entering the field, the physical labor of the design process can be heavily taxing on the body. This paper will describe a journey of a designer, disabled by muscular dystrophy, no longer able to utilize the traditional methods of the design process during the different phases of a project. Although this may be a deterrent to many disabled students, there are many resources, technologies, and teaching methods that make tasks simpler and less taxing. Thus, in order to better facilitate this design student, appropriate design technology and teaching methodology was made available.
Upon entering the industrial design curriculum, there are specific skills taught to the students. In regards to this article, they have been broken down to five categories: research, sketching, model making, computers, and presentation. In each of these categories there are several ways to assist physically challenged students in completing their work to a level equal or greater than the acceptable standard.