Chapin Faulconer's story helps us understand who to include in "design that's usable by all people."

And not just in Charlottesville, Virginia, but anywhere.

Back in 1991, Chapin Faulconer was in a car accident the night of her high school graduation and sustained a spinal cord injury. Her injury is considered C4 complete which means she has no feeling or sensation from the chest down, but she does have some arm and shoulder movement.

She had already been accepted into college at The University of Virginia but deferred a year to work on her recovery. She ultimately completed her college degree and her Masters, also at UVA, and has become a successful, licensed counselor. It didn’t all come with ease though. Chapin shares honestly in her full-length interview about her experiences learning to deal with the emotional effects of her injury and how that impacted other areas of her life including her mental health and friendships. She did, however, have to find new hobbies which included painting with watercolors. She now considers herself an artist, which wasn’t something she thought she’d ever have a desire to do.

Chapin describes how her housing needs were met just after her injury and currently resides in a universally designed home that was such an unexpected find! She loves how it works for her needs and that she and her sister can share the home together. Even though she now works for herself, the first year out of college she experienced a big struggle in finding someone to hire her. She also had to turn down a job once because the location didn’t have an elevator.

Chapin has lived 25+ years with a spinal cord injury and encourages others to find something they enjoy and gives their life meaning. Whether it’s working part-time, or volunteering, it’s important to find things in life that are fulfilling.

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States


Watch the interview: