Design Portfolio


ADAPT is an interdisciplinary team of UM students working at the intersection of art, design, and engineering to create beautiful and productive designs for people with health challenges. Currently our focus is on designing for wheelchair users while preparing to explore a variety of other problem spaces. We are creating a unique empathetic design process that involves the end user in every step along the way. This means we are constantly doing interviews, observations, and prototype testing with wheelchair users in our growing community. Our vision is to create products that allow wheelchair users to become more independent in their everyday lives. In addition to functionality, we use aesthetic components such as textile design and surface texture as a means to improve body image and to reduce negative stigma associated with assistive devices. We are interested in how stigmas against people who identify as disabled effect the quality and overall design of the products made for them. As we look at the relationship between aesthetics, stigma, and functionality, we are exploring how we can maximize usability for the consumer, but also erode negative stigmas and improve body image through the visual components of our products. One way we are looking to do this is for instance to provide fashionable options for those who purchase assistive devices, comparable to the way that one might pick the eyewear that best suits their style or occasion.

We began through optiMize, a social innovation organization, because we saw a huge disparity between how healthcare products are designed and how they are actually used. We wanted to use design to enact social change in this space, and ultimately fell into entrepreneurship as an avenue to make the most of our efforts. Last year we won the Grand Prize of the optiMize Social Innovation Challenge, and through the continued mentorship of optiMize, we are learning to navigate the social entrepreneurship space.

Project Team

  • Laura Murphy ME
  • Sidney Krandall A&D, Industrial Design
  • Miranda Veeser International Studies
  • Matt Sanfield Business Administration

Sponsors & Supporters