Co-ability – aligned arguments for the dissolution of a human “centre”


To generate critical and new insights into our value system in human-centred societal challenges the experimental approach of Research through Design and the power of critical disability studies explore philosophical and strategic possibilities to understand the concept of co-Ability. I introduce the term ‘co-Ability’ rooted in the critical approach of posthuman disability studies outlined by scholars such as Rosi Braidotti (2013). It serves as a broad an umbrella term under which we can reconsider the potentials of various entities (biological and artificial) enhancing the shared competence rather than dwelling on the oppressive nature of human-centred norms.

By analysing the literature review, this thesis addresses the reflective symmetry in key elements between disability studies and design approaches, questions the validity of a homogenous human need and reflects instead on how co-design can become a driving fuel for generating possibilities.

Identifying how design helps to improve the experience of being human, and not necessarily the user experience of a disabled person in prosthesis design development highlights the constraints of seeing a prosthesis as a process instead of a product. To investigate through personal values and situated concerns, the research settled on a case study of prosthesis development with a discursive and self-reflective process. It actively contributed to a better understanding of embodied thoughts on relationships. With the methodological approach of the co-design framework, I point to the junctures where technology, bodies, and cultural theory intersect in a decentralised soft assembly in which disability, technology, and design act as equal partners in determining co-Abled formations.


Renata DEZSO

Doctorate type

Type of Doctorate (e.g. PhD, DDes, ArtD) DLA, Doctor of Liberal Art

Year of completion


Case study type

Research through design

Institution details

Doctoral School

Industrial Design