"Access+Abilitiy" Exhibition to be Presented at the World Economic Forum's 2019 Annual Meeting

On View in Congress Centre Jan. 22-Jan. 25, 2019
December 17, 2018
News Release
Woman wearing bedazzled hearing aid

Earring Aid, Bedazzled, 2014. Designed by Elana Langer. Swarovski crystals, e6000 glue, hearing aid. Gift of Elana Langer. Photo: © Hanna Agar.

COPYRIGHT:© Hanna Agar

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced that a special installation of the “Access+Ability” exhibition has been selected to be shown at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, Jan. 22 through Jan. 25, 2019, in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Originally organized by Cooper Hewitt, this adaptation is a collaboration between the Smithsonian and the World Economic Forum. 

The exhibition will feature 20 products, projects and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive and sensory—that expand everyone’s ability to lead independent lives and engage more fully in the world. Installed in the Congress Centre, the exhibition will be offered alongside panels, workshops and other sessions organized by the Forum that highlight the need to build a more inclusive society.

In addition to the exhibition, Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, will speak on an official Forum stage, presenting stories of inclusive designs and best practices with educator, writer and advocate Sinéad Burke, as part of a series of sessions on disability inclusion.  

“Cooper Hewitt is honored to collaborate with the World Economic Forum and bring design’s life-changing impact to the top leaders of our global society,” Baumann said. “Equal access is a human rights issue affecting over 1 billion people with disabilities globally, and the Forum is committed to setting new standards for inclusion in 2019. Powerful design examples drawn from our groundbreaking exhibition ‘Access+Ability’ will help shape the conversation at Davos and beyond that will inspire leaders around the world to commit themselves to prioritizing accessibility.”

From increasingly versatile canes and customized prosthetic leg covers to adaptive clothing with magnetic closures and shoes with a wrap-around zipper system, the exhibition shows how products created over the past decade are not only becoming more functional and fashionable, but also offering choice. Through the integration of groundbreaking assistive technologies, 3-D printing and haptic feedback, new design solutions are also extending cognitive abilities and sensory perception and providing new ways to navigate and negotiate the environment.

A variety of interactive elements will be installed throughout the exhibition to engage visitors, underscoring the importance of prioritizing users throughout the design process.

Highlights of the works on view include:

  • The eye-tracking, speech-generating devices of Tobii Dynavox, which enable hands-free communication and computer access
  • Motivation Rough Terrain wheelchair for use in the developing world where ground may be mud or sand
  • Emma Watch, which uses haptic vibration technology to allow users with tremors to regain the use of their hands
  • SoundShirt, which allows music to be felt as an immersive experience of tactile sensations for the deaf and hard of hearing

About Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt is America’s design museum. Inclusive, innovative and experimental, the museum’s dynamic exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. An integral part of the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum and research complex—Cooper Hewitt is located on New York City’s Museum Mile in the historic, landmark Carnegie Mansion. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 B.C. to contemporary 3D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world. Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls, and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection. In 2018, the London Design Biennale awarded a medal to Cooper Hewitt for its presentation “Face Values,” an immersive installation that explores the pervasive but often hidden role of facial-detection technology in contemporary society.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting brings together over 3,000 participants from governments, international organizations, business, civil society, media and culture from all over the world. With this year’s theme, Globalization 4.0: Creating a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, participants will be focused on defining new ideas and solutions to ensure that any further global integration will be more inclusive and sustainable.

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SI-658-2018

Media Only

Laurie Bohlk

(212) 849-8420

bohlkl@si.edu

Hannah Holden

(212) 849-3251

holdenh@si.edu

Exhibitions