Image created in collaboration between dancer, Jerron Herman and graphic designer, Ryan Hartley Smith. 

WITH is a program that will place New York City’s creative disabled talent into the city’s top design studios for a 3-month Fellowship. The goal is to create new pathways into design for disabled people.

The life of a disabled person is spent cultivating an intuitive creativity that allows us to navigate a world that isn’t built for our bodies. It is a level of design thinking that has yet to be tapped in the design community, even though our ingenuity has led to the bicycle, the iPhone touchscreen and curb cuts.

There are many reasons why disabled people aren’t entering design fields. But what it mostly comes down to is narrative. If you Google the phrase ‘Design for Disability’, you’ll see it yields more than twice as many search results as ‘Disability Design’. The implication that things are designed for us, rather than with or by us keeps us from seeing our contributions as creative or valuable.

WITH will teach disabled people about the value of our creativity. WITH will allow designers to discover our ingenuity. And WITH will create a pipeline by facilitating a process of designing with rather than for disability.

There are short term and long term goals:

WITH will begin to cultivate this talent so we can begin building NYC into a hub for disability ingenuity. Imagine a fully accessible ‘sit lab’ at a local design school and innovative career opportunities through a community that fosters and attracts the most creative disabled people from around the world.

WITH will begin to carve out the pathways into design that we need to begin to live out this greater vision.

WITH will launch on May 16th as part of NYCxDesign, at an event sponsored by AARP and hosted by SYPartners on May 16th. Tickets are now available

Applications will go live on Monday, May 21st. If you are an interested business (design studio or creative space) or an interested disabled person, please write a quick email to hello [at] inclusivecollective [dot] org. We’ll send you the application as soon as they go live.

The first cohort will start Monday, September 10, 2018.