A person wearing virtual reality goggles and another person in the background watching.

How can we make the whole world experience OUR world?

The Center for Discovery, a residential facility for people with severe disabilities, has taken on an ambitious task: to design the first fully inclusive town in the United States. Their goal is not to just meet ADA standards but to exceed them. It is an ambitious goal, but one that the Center is ready for.

My role has been on advising on the development of their project, analyzing their downtown buildings, community services and Makers Lab for ways to be more inclusive. While analyzing the project, I recognized one problem ... and I saw quite a few opportunities as well. Hurleyville is just a small town in the middle of upstate New York with few visitors. How might we enable the entire world to experience the magical place that is being built? 

The solution that I developed is a virtual reality experience that will enable people to wander through the town before and after its transformation. The VR program is being designed from the perspective of multiple disabilities. For example, we will create the experience from wheelchair height, color blindness, autism, etc. Not only will this bring the exceptional new town to the fingertips of others all over the world, but it will also solve a problem that designers have been struggling with for some time - how to understand and empathize with the unique worlds of people with disabilities. Our aim is to have this become an integral tool for designers to gain a deep understanding of how to design for diverse abilities.

This is an ongoing project.

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