(Edit: No, I don't mean that the disabled are broken. But the economy, various design systems, and our expectations of ourselves clearly are. Fortunately, we have gifts such as listening, compassion, and imagination to address the lack.)
Compelling confluence of data from the blogosphere today:
Obama apparently thinks there's economic opportunity in the US' medical innovations and knowledge, such that the disabled community can show us levers to improve the world. This makes sense, given the significant population numbers of disabled worldwide (some say 10%, or 600 million). The White House had a bit of a confab about it.
The very funny Seth Godin posted an older (three years) video presentation of "This Is Broken", making the same point: look at the broken systems to show you how to be more competitive, how to appeal more, how to win. That part about "not my job", how some design jobs fall through the cracks...I found myself wincing, because several of his examples are the building designer's job. The movie concession stand. The trashcan. (His hint: The signs will show the way.)
(Edit) Pete Wendel recommends "Inclusive Design, Part 1", about design for all of us, when sooner or later we join the ranks of the disabled - I've been there, I blew out my knee ten years ago, and then had to have it reconstructed. I particularly like the notion of the "episodic disabled" - from weekend partying!
And "Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords" is very eloquent today about the need to consider special education as a civil right, for that's where the 'fixing' of society begins.
(Edit 2) More on how powerful focusing on the 'broken': Zen Habits recommends a Home Organizing Audit, for its power to clear life's obstacles...slowing down, listening, looking, and relinquishing the drive for more, more...gives time, energy and priority to properly caring for the systems at home.
All of this seems a logical outgrowth from the trial-and-error process sometimes called "science"...that we should iterate, and then try the results...see what doesn't work, and then try to fix it.
In FSD blog news, I'm doing the same, "fixing the broken". FSD doesn't serve me in its current form and voice any longer, so I'm redesigning. You'll see more "beginner's mind", far less advice, more research. I hope you'll accompany me on this very interesting course correction...sometimes the next "front step" is the one behind you.