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Accessible America: A History of Disability…

Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (Crip) (edition 2019)

by Bess Williamson (Author)

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Title:Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (Crip)
Authors:Bess Williamson (Author)
Info:NYU Press (2019), Edition: First edition., 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Disability Rights Movement, Design, Social Movements

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Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (Crip) by Bess Williamson



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Useful history of accessible and universal design in C20 USA. Acknowledges political forces at work; movement from charity-model “design for” to social-model “design by.” Wheelchair issues foremost while recognizing the limitations of that lens. Great spelunking on oral histories and zines. ( )
  JesseTheK | Mar 1, 2019 |
The book traces the history of design for accessibility since the early 20th century—here moving from prostheses and designs that enabled people to drive cars to building/built environment design and finally back to wheelchairs and other objects (like OXO Good-Grips), now under the aegis of “universal design.” Williamson argues that a key issue has always been American individualism and bias against shared resources—was accessibility a way of enabling individual citizens to fulfill their productive potential, or was it coddling/harming others in order to benefit a minority? Appealing to the former conception helped disabled advocates and their allies, but also accepted the individualist premise. Likewise, using polio survivors and disabled war veterans as paradigmatic representatives of disabled populations allowed appeals to normative white masculinity and femininity—accessibility helped otherwise middle-class white people fulfill their appropriate roles—but didn’t challenge the normativity of those depictions. Radical interventions in the 1960s and beyond have tried to frame access as enabling individuals to choose how they want to live in the world, and to discuss inaccessibility as both literally and more-than-literally structural replication of disadvantage, but the simultaneous rise of “universal design” also made it easy for disability as a particular way of life to disappear, since designers are now supposedly designing for everyone. ( )
  rivkat | Nov 28, 2018 |
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