it doesn't have to be ugly! the aesthetics of everything made for disabled people

by ARC

A big motivating factor in why I created the art without limits studio is my frustration with organizations, spaces, and the entire atmosphere around things made for disabled people. A lot of those spaces and projects are made with pure good intentions by amazing passionate people, but unfortunately they’re still susceptible to clichés that plague the disabled community.

One of those frustrating issues is the bad designs in everything made for disabled people, this effect can be seen in all sorts of products made for people with disabilities.

From store websites that look like a hospital portal to products that look like you traveled 40 years back in time with their super outdated look and feel which completely ignores disabled people are still people with taste.

Why do electric wheelchairs copy the design of cars? do they realize wheelchairs are an extension of the disabled user body? it’s not something you drive outside from point A to point B, it’s like clothing and it should reflect that in terms of diversity of design options, and the options shouldn’t be different paint colors or plastic carbon fiber pattern on the battery case, it’s not a car.

A lot of products made for able bodied people are designed in a way where the aesthetic of the product play a very large role, because most people know if a product doesn’t look nice people would be less likely to purchase and enjoy having it around in their home.

Yet this fact seems to completely disappear whenever a team is creating a space or a product for disabled people and they rely heavily on the product being a necessity to people with disabilities so they have no choice but to purchase the ugly thing they need.

I completely understand there’s a lot of complex factors that lead to this issue, such as laws and regulations in a few countries that make manufacturing equipment for disabled people have this medical aesthetic as well as the complete focus on functionality due to the sensitive nature of such products.

But this mindset spreads to things outside of regulatory control as well, such as community websites and products that are made for disabled people but not considered a medical device, yet they still make it look like one.

My only ask is be brave and thoughtful with your designs, not everything made for people with disabilities needs to look like a medical device, the disabled community will appreciate it greatly.


Artist, founder of #800x80