Friends, I’m so happy to say that my first book is under contract with Riverhead/Penguin! I’m just thrilled—I can’t even tell you.
The book is about the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, from everyday household objects to architecture, street and city planning, pointing to larger systems design questions at the end. It grows in scale from wearables and products to environments and ecologies, building momentum to ask some compelling and hard questions: Where else might the experience of disability be a site of creativity and invention? And what design opportunities are missed because those experiences are overlooked? I’ll be citing the work of so many scholars I admire, looping together histories—little-known origin stories of everyday things—with more contemporary advances in design for human difference. I’m thinking of it as a kind of travel writing—deeply reported throughout, taking the reader with me to understand the stories of people and cultures behind all our designed objects and environments. I’m deep into it already, and it’s the most excited I’ve ever been about a project.
I’m lucky that Olin College is a place where I could say to my dean: I want to write a book, but I want it to be a trade book for the general reader, and he said immediately—fantastic, do it. I wanted to write a trade book for the same reasons that I’ve written in the mode of journalist before: it matters to me that the radical, complex, and exciting ideas in disability studies reach people outside academia, and that the non-fiction reader see the designed world anew, re-enchanted with the universality of disability in its very fibers and structures. I want the reader to locate all bodies in that built world, regardless of capacity—to see all of us on a human continuum of abilities and needs, holding shared stakes in the designed future. Olin is a college without departments or traditional tenure, so I’m free to pursue this project as my research with the full support of my institution.