Sara Hendren and Design Meets Disability


Sara Hendren is an artist, design researcher, and writer who teaches design for disability at Olin College of Engineering. In her book What Can A Body Do?, she takes a fascinating and provocative look at the things we use and the spaces we inhabit, finding the intersection of where disability meets design. In her creative and engaging talks, Hendren invites the audience to consider a new way of looking at accessibility and inclusion to imagine a better-designed world for everyone. From furniture to tools, she questions features that might be regarded as fixed or permanent, and calls for engineering that centers accommodation for the extraordinary range of our bodies’ needs and desires.

Hendren is the co-founder of The Accessible Icon Project, an ongoing work of design activism for people with disabilities and their allies toward a more accessible world. She has been selected for a National Fellowship at the New America, residencies at Yaddo and the Carey Institute for Global Good, and an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Sara Hendren’s work is a permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, The Vitra Design Museum, and the Seoul Museum of Art.

Interested in bringing Sara Hendren to speak at your event or to your corporation or institutionContact us for more information.


The Simplest Tool for Improving Cities Is Also Free – The New York Times 


Praise for What Can A Body Do?


What Can a Body Do? models its subject. It has well-made sentences and an elegant structure. . . . But Hendren’s project also has a kind of deep beauty that is neither separable from design nor fully accountable to it. Some molecular-level harmony obtains when writing seems so committed to being both interesting and humane. . . . Hendren’s humanism shines…. As [she] writes, disability ‘reveals just how unfinished the world really is.’ Her gift, perhaps, is to see that as an invitation.” —The New Yorker

“In prose infused with tenderness, Hendren tosses away the idea that disability is a problem to be solved and instead shows how humans’ adaptation to the built environment is a wonder to behold.” —NPR

“For Sara Hendren, disability is not a problem to be solved or a flaw to be cured: diverse bodies generate alternative understandings of the built world and should encourage us to question what we accept as ‘standard.’”—The Baffler

“Sara Hendren’s graceful, generous book invites us to create a more accessible, humane world of coexistence that thoughtfully meets bodies where they are.” —LitHub

“Hendren shows that the purpose of accessible design should not be to fix a body, but rather to meet the body where it is. . . . Fascinating.” —BookPage

“Hendren sees the world as it might flex and bend. . . . With intimacy, curiosity, and a bright sense of possibility, [she] investigates . . . the ways our diverse bodies interact with the world around us.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The questions [Hendren] asks. . . spark a contagious curiosity. . . . It’s hard not to look up and see your surroundings in a different light.” —Humanities

Interested in bringing Sara Hendren to speak at your event or to your corporation or institutionContact us for more information.