Abler was a blog I ran between 2009-roughly 2015 on prosthetics, critical design, assistive technology, and disability. You can usually see the full Abler archives for a particular post, but I’ve got an archiving issue I’m working out. More soon!

Jan 4, 2015

Rethinking the high-tech/low-tech divide

Conversations about prosthetics still tend to assume that complicat-ed and next-generation technologies must, by definition, do their jobs with more acuity and impact than simple tools. But take a look at this elegant transitional cutlery, or read about the sophisticated mechanism of the white cane for navigating through space, no electronics required. You might also be interested in another kind of cane when it meets a bike or body socks for sensory processing challenges. And for more in-depth reading, see Audre Lorde’s thoughts on the politics of old-school prosthetics for post-mastectomy and David Edgerton on the shock of the old.

Jan 4, 2014

Design for disability at all scales

When most people hear “design” and “disability” in the same sen- tence, they tend to be thinking about artificial limbs, or super high- end wheelchairs, or 3D printed replacement parts. Those designs can be terrific feats of engineering; but it can be much more revealing to think about design operating at scales other than products. Consider this taste map of the London tube, or these Braille-friendly banjo tabs. Where do these kinds of designs originate, and what do they tell us about being human? Think, too, about access as a feature of good urban retrofitting or family-friendly transportation. And at the scale of build- ings and plazas, take a look at the memorializing, haunting work of Anna Schuleit’s Bloom, or the monumental scale and visibility of Marc Quinn’s public sculptural work from 2005, Alison Lapper Pregnant. Thinking about these works as design, or as art, or as engineering is as complex as it is productive.