Design for Paralympians: Exploring Roles of Graphic and Industrial Design in Promoting Awareness of Athletes with Disabilities


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    A disability can be defined as physical, mental and/or sensory. Sport can assist in enabling the person with disabilities or impairments to access the community and society. A literature review suggests that most academic studies consider the evolution of Paralympic sports and games, mainly from the points of view of history, health, medicine, or sports and recreation. In relation to design, the roles of engineering and technology, mainly prostheses, materials and equipment design have also been widely studied. However, the roles of design disciplines in promoting awareness and development of Paralympic sports are rarely discussed, and thus worth of further investigation. Collaborating with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), the authors developed a practice-led research project in two parts (mainly a graphic design and an industrial design one) which explored some of the roles of visual culture in design for athletes with disabilities. This paper discusses this design research project developed with APC for the 2012 Paralympic Games. The first part encompassed historic and visual research to produce 13 posters about the Australian Paralympic history. The second part involved Masters in Industrial Design (MID) students to develop design solutions for the APC's Paralympian of the Year (POTY) 2012 award ceremony. Conclusions discuss implications of designing for athletes with disabilities, as well as merging research-based teaching and practice-led research in design through exploring the social contribution of design within the community.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-50
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Design in Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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