Saturday 20 July 2019

'There is not just one body' - Disability campaigner Sinead Burke takes to the stage at Davos

Sinéad Burke, Founder, Sinéad Burke, Ireland; Cultural Leader,.speaking during the Session
Sinéad Burke, Founder, Sinéad Burke, Ireland; Cultural Leader,.speaking during the Session "Designing for Everyone" at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 22, 2019. Congress Centre - Betazone Copyright by World Economic Forum / Mattias Nutt
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Designers of infrastructure need to include people with disabilities in the design process in order to understand their needs, according to Irish disability campaigner Sinead Burke.

Ms Burke has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ms Burke said: "From the earliest of ages I've been having to manipulate architecture and design for my independence... perhaps it's in the design of public restrooms and I cannot reach the lock on the cubicle door

"We need to be encouraging design students that there is not just one body," she said.

"We need to also make sure that designers are bringing disabled people into the conversation because they will have ideas about the future of design that are formed by their lived experience.

Ms Burke told attendees of her experience studying to be a teacher, and of a fellow student who asked how she would be able to control her students given her disability.

"I [couldn't] reach the blackboard, the light switch is a challenge, hanging the artwork is incredibly difficult," adding that redesigning the classroom had helped her to teach in an effective manner.

The Dubliner hit headlines in May of last year after making it onto Vogue's 'Most Influential Women' list for her work in the fashion industry.

She has been campaigning for inclusivity in fashion for a number of years.

In April, Ms Burke featured on the cover of Business of Fashion's special print edition, focusing on the 'Age of Influence'. She featured alongside Kim Kardashian, in a custom Burberry trenchcoat.

She also attended the garden party held for Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their Irish visit last summer, when a photo of Ms Markle and Ms Burke chatting together went viral on the official Kensington Palace Twitter page. 

Online Editors

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