New accessible shoe by Nike. Photo 2021 Nike Inc.
Rewind. I saw my life fast forward in my mind when a car almost ran over me while walking from my intensive news job at TVE-NY to my home in 123 West 44th street in Manhattan. 7pm Times Square. Busy. I was 20 y.o. In just a few seconds I imagined myself spending the rest of my live on a wheelchair. It was a short vision but a truly impactful one, it made me realize that THAT could have easily happened, and have shattered my dream of becoming a contemporary dancer.
1988. The event invited me to think about ways to remove the wheelchair obstacle from dreams and feelings of “disability” and exclusion: upper-body movement roles in choreographies, use of rolling cubes or other elements on stage interacting with others, personalizing/styling accessories such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs, re-designing the lighting/spaces in hospital waiting rooms to help with emotions, for the families, for the patients… I cold-called, met, visited, but did not succeed. It happens.
In my opinion:
There is the functional:
When we design functional products for people with disabilities, we mostly design for functionality and seem to forget about feelings beyond “it works”, or sometimes simply add a touch of other senses/feelings (i.e. blue/red wheelchair).
There is the emotional:
When we design functional products for people not diagnosed with a disability, we design for functionality, BUT with a high those of feeling (=branding style). Such is the case with eyeglasses, tables, chairs, shelves, silverware, bathtubs, beds, lamps, and a long list of etceteras.
So this is a call for designers to Style-4-All. Any funcional product can be designed with the persons’ feelings, personality and style in mind. Maybe we can remove this bias?
2021. Broken ankle, Parc i Llacuna del Poble Nou, Barcelona. 50+, and I need to move around, what are my options? I never became a professional dancer, with or without chair, yet I danced.
After writing this post, I searched for a potential image and saw that Nike just did it!!! A few days ago Nike launched the accessible Nike GO FlyEase hand-free shoe! Great for people with arthritis, older people and others who would benefit of such ease. I hope their design ignites the necessary change to style-4-all!