Transensational Objects: Studio on Inclusive Design | Experiments in Pedagogy

Design pedagogies tend to prioritize vision over other senses. This vision-centric approach often neglects aspects of accessibility and inclusivity in the ways that we experience space. Transensational objectsacted as a platform of exploration on how visual spatial experiences that are inaccessible to the blind can be expressed in non-visual modalities. In the studio students identified spatial problems related to the everyday lives of blind or visually impaired individuals pertaining to issues of navigation, spatial organization, information access and art participation. Using the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind as a site of intervention, students developed objects of inclusive design –transensational objects– to address these questions. The proposed objects varied in scale, type, and fabrication technique, ranging from 3d printed textiles to multimaterial interactive interfaces to printed tactile information charts. The design process was guided by the method of sensory correspondence: students devised rules for translating visual properties into tactile or sound properties in order to design inclusive spatial experiences. Students had the opportunity to test their prototypes on the Perkins campus and receive on-site feedback from Perkins instructors and students. The studio culminated in two public reviews and discussions, one taking place at Perkins and one at MIT, addressing broader questions of sensory engagement and accessibility in design.

Part of the Fall 2018 Experiments in Pedagogy