Bard Graduate Center is pleased to announce that the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Book Prize for the best book on the decorative arts, design history, or material culture of the Americas published in 2019 or 2020 has been awarded to Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design by Bess Williamson (New York University Press). The prize rewards scholarly excellence and commitment to cross-disciplinary conversation.

In commending Accessible America, the prize committee points out how, in a politically astute text, the author does not treat disability in isolation, but as an issue with ramifications for design more generally: “Williamson discusses seldomly contemplated objects that, although initially addressing the needs of the disabled, have shaped and continue to shape the lives of most people in the U.S.A. today, and in the Americas more broadly. As such, it is a compelling study of the relationships between people and things, and is clearly an outstanding contribution not only to disability studies but also to design studies and design history.”

In recognition of Professor Williamson’s outstanding scholarship, Bard Graduate Center will host a symposium on the subject of the book in spring 2022.

Bess Williamson is associate professor of art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is co-editor of Making Disability Modern: Design Histories, which examines objects, buildings, and systems that reflect changing design approaches to disability from the eighteenth century to the present.