In this poignant personal essay at Design Observer, Chappell Ellison recalls her brother’s crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how their family coped with his rituals as his disease worsened. As a designer, she examines how her brother’s obsession with germs informs her design choices and how those choices might help improve the lives of people with disabilities.

When my brother walks into a room, every single object has a voice that screams only at him. The sofa, the rug, the throw pillows; they scream indiscernible commands that all seem to say “Don’t touch me or you will die.” His fear of these objects and the perceived germs they carry cause him to stand in the middle of the living room, paralyzed with his palms pressed together at his waistline. It has become his standard position. He might watch an entire half-hour of television, standing in that very spot. We’ve…

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