CWU News

CWU Continues to Innovate, Makes Accessibility Accessible

Doll in a wheelchairCentral Washington University is not new to innovation especially in the field of accessibility. CWU offers the only Accessibility Studies program in the nation and recently supported a Kickstarter that developed the only fashion doll-sized wheelchair on the market.

Through CWU’s sponsorship, the Lammily wheelchair was made possible. While the toy serves as a playful accessory, it also brings attention to the need for universal design—making products to serve those with disabilities.

“It was important for us [CWU] to be involved in the startup of the Lammily wheelchair because it shows that we are supporting the innovation that is progressive socially of identifying how prevelent disabilities are,” said Naomi Petersen, CWU accessibility studies professor.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 56.7 million people – 19 percent of the population – had a disability in 2010. Petersen explained not only is it important to know that people with disabilities exist, but if you live long enough everyone will be disabled due to old age.

While other programs focus on the rehabilitation of people with disabilites, CWU is the only program with a focus on teaching that all environments should be accessible for all people. By exporing common everday real-world settings, the Accessibility Studies program exposes the need for universal design in buildings, environments, and products—removing barriers for the disabled.

Every career field has some aspect of accessibility. The program teaches students in diverse career fields from social work, communications, construction, law and justice, and human resources to understand ADA compliance and how to interact with people who may have different abilities.

The Lammily wheelchair, although just a toy, helps destigmatize people who require assistance while providing wheelchair-bound children a toy that they can relate to.

“It may seem like it’s very playful, but that can have a powerful influence on generations to come realizing that this is part of our everyday assistive technology and it should be in every child’s toy box,” said Petersen.

About Accessibility Studies
CWU offers a certificate and minor in Accessibility Studies. Both offerings can be completed online in as little as 10 weeks during the summer session, or courses can be taken one at a time during the year. Enrollment is currently underway for summer session.

To learn more about CWU Accessibility Studies program visit

Media Contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,