Cripping the Crit: Towards a More Accessible Design Academy
Gabi Schaffzin, Assistant Professor of Design & Design Studies, York University, Toronto, ON
Abstract from 2021 SEGD Communication + Place
This social model of disability, first introduced by members of the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation in the latter part of the 20th century (Shakespeare, 2017 p.192), suggests that “disabled” is a label necessitated by the ways that our society and culture accommodate different bodies and brains, not one driven by medical conditions. Thus, rather than being defined by being in a wheelchair, a disabled person is defined by the lack of ramps or elevators in a building. If we made sure to design ramps and elevators into every single building, then that wheelchair would not be as notable. By using disability first language—that is, saying “disabled person” rather than “person with a disability”—the social inadequacies that define a disability are brought to the fore. Pretending that a person is not disabled by saying that they just “have” a disability erases the possibility that perhaps they do not, in fact, have a disability, but that they are defined as disabled by their surroundings.
Read more in the 2021 SEGD Communication + Place journal and other papers at https://segd.org/academic-design-research.
Communication + Place is the official research journal of the Experiential Graphic Design community. Published online, the journal features articles from both academics and professionals advancing the XGD profession through creative research, curriculum development, project reviews, and user-centric testing.