The WITH List
How do you create a new paradigm?
Changing the way designers engage with disability is a design problem in itself. How do you get from recognizing an opportunity to create organizational change to actually making that change happen? After all, you’re just one person. You’re working with a limited budget, and you’ve just realized how little you know about any of this. Where do you start?
Good news! Just by asking where to start—you already have. Because the simplest place to start is with yourself. Learning more about your own assumptions and limitations, and the factors that have contributed to them, can set you on a path toward finding new resources and ways of doing things.
At The Disabled List, we’re big fans of asking, rather than answering, questions. Answering a question gives you an endpoint. It’s satisfying, because you’ve found what you need. But it’s also limiting, because it means you can stop searching. Asking questions keeps the conversation going. It keeps you wondering.
To that end, we’ve created a list of questions designers can ask themselves as they work toward designing WITH disability. This kind of self-questioning has its roots in activist communities, where practices like this are used to help people become more aware of their implicit biases in order to begin challenging them. This is meant to be an ongoing process—just like any kind of learning.
We recommend that you print or write out the questions, and record your answers. This way you can keep track of how your ideas develop over time.
These questions are for personal reflection only. There are no right or wrong answers. They are a tool to help you understand how you think about disability.
- What are some things I know about disability right now?
- How did I learn these things?
- If I wanted more information about disability, where would I look for it?
- Who is creating this information, and whose perspectives are they representing or excluding?
- How do I feel about working with disability?
- What are three words I would use to describe the concept of accessibility?
- We talk a lot about ‘reasonable accommodations’. What’s an example of an unreasonable accommodation — and why?
- Who is in the room when we make decisions and set agendas?
- Who is going to benefit from this project and how?