Visiting Scholar, 2010–2011
Bess Williamson is a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at the University of Delaware. Her dissertation, “The Right to Design: Disability and Access in the United States, 1945–1990,” traces debates over design and technology in the American Disability Rights movement.
Williamson joins CHF as a visiting scholar while she undertakes a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for the 2010–2011 academic year. Williamson will draw on CHF's resources in the history of synthetic materials, including the postwar plastics that improved prosthetic limb design, as well as the titanium that built light, flexible wheelchairs. More broadly, she will consider the way scientists and engineers engaged with the social implications of their work.
Before graduate school, Williamson worked as an advocate and consultant on sustainable product design. She received a master’s degree in the history of design from Parsons School of Design in 2005 and has taught design history and American history at Parsons and the University of Delaware. She maintains a blog on accessible design, http://righttodesign.blogspot.com.