Scott & Sarah Pruett's story helps us understand who to include in "design that's usable by all people."

And not just in Harrisonburg, Virginia, but anywhere.

Yep, it’s us, the co-founders of The Universal Design Project. Our story is a big part of why we started this organization.

Scott has a spinal cord injury from a skiing accident in 1999, at age 18. He hit a patch of dirt, which caused his skis to stop while momentum kept his body moving. He had a bad fall, landed on his head, and broke his neck. A C6 burst fracture resulted in damage to his spinal cord; he has used a wheelchair ever since.

It took nearly six years for Scott to regain his independence with everyday tasks, but he had a setback in 2012 when degeneration was discovered in his back after another spinal cord injury at the T5 level, which required a fusion of his thoracic spine. That fusion failed in 2014, resulting in a third spinal cord injury (yes, three!) at T11, and the need for a full replacement of the hardware in his back, this time into the first lumbar vertebrae.

From the outside, there’s not any visible difference between his function from the first injury in 1999 and the last injury in 2014, but a lot has changed that affects life on a daily basis, especially increased pain, more difficulty reaching high and low items, and transferring between his chair and the bed, shower, or our car.

He and Sarah met in 2007 while Sarah was in graduate school for occupational therapy, and they married in 2009. Sarah is an occupational therapist who specializes in adult physical rehabilitation and environmental design. She has worked in clinical and community settings, and has lots of experience with all sorts of different disabilities through volunteering with multiple organizations.

Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States


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