Thesis ID: CBB001562887

What Can Universal Design Know? Bodies as Evidence in Disability-Accessible Design (2013)


Hamraie, Aimi (Author)

Emory University
Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Advisor: Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie
Physical Details: 305 pp.
Language: English

Universal Design (UD) is a movement to make the built environment accessible to a broad range of human diversity. UD emerged in the mid-1980s as an alternative to barrier-free approaches to disability access. Existing scholarship has largely taken UD for granted as the best, most inclusive approach to design. The design studies literature on UD focuses on evaluating specific designs, promoting accessibility to designers, or arguing that UD can result in better implementation of the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the humanities and social sciences, critical disability studies scholars often cite UD as proof of the validity of social constructivist models of disability. These fields have neglected an in-depth exploration of UD's historical emergence through 19th and 20th century scientific research practices that have often been at odds with the goal of disability inclusion. This dissertation is the first major attempt to address this gap in existing knowledge about UD. Applying a methodology from the history and philosophy of science, called historical epistemology, I explore the history of UD as an epistemic community emerging from a number of scientific research milieus, including eugenics, rehabilitation, scientific management, and military human factors research. I argue that UD is made possible by epistemic regimes that make human bodies legible as evidence to designers, but that emerged from projects of standardizing, eliminating, or curing disability. UD performs epistemological activism within these regimes, intervening to challenge their epistemologies and methodologies, and creating new ways of knowing bodies that can make better disability access possible.


Description Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. . ProQuest Doc. ID 1426128180.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Bess Williamson; Guffey, Elizabeth E.; (2020)
Making disability modern : Design histories (/isis/citation/CBB402138239/)

Book Graeme Gooday; Karen Sayer; (2017)
Managing the Experience of Hearing Loss in Britain, 1830–1930 (/isis/citation/CBB651894216/)

Book Chris Mounsey; (2019)
Sight Correction: Vision and Blindness in Eighteenth-Century Britain (/isis/citation/CBB700021344/)

Book Nielsen, Kim E.; (2012)
A Disability History of the United States (/isis/citation/CBB001214605/)

Book Jaipreet Virdi; (2020)
Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History (/isis/citation/CBB945172024/)

Book Blume, Stuart S.; (2010)
The Artificial Ear: Cochlear Implants and the Culture of Deafness (/isis/citation/CBB001031571/)

Article Mauldin, Laura; (2014)
Precarious Plasticity: Neuropolitics, Cochlear Implants, and the Redefinition of Deafness (/isis/citation/CBB001421190/)

Book Claire L. Jones; (2017)
Rethinking Modern Prostheses in Anglo-American Commodity Cultures, 1820-1939 (/isis/citation/CBB758244747/)

Article Frank Mondelli; (October 2022)
Beautiful Sounds, Beautiful Life: Cultivating Musical Listening through Hearing Aids in 1950s Japan (/isis/citation/CBB357602162/)

Book Coreen McGuire; Julie Anderson; (2020)
Measuring difference, numbering normal: Setting the standards for disability in the interwar period (/isis/citation/CBB324805997/)

Book Bess Williamson; (2019)
Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (/isis/citation/CBB956291565/)

Book Borsay, Anne; Dale, Pamela; (2012)
Disabled Children: Contested Caring, 1850--1979 (/isis/citation/CBB001451455/)

Book Brian Craig Miller; (2015)
Empty Sleeves: Amputation in the Civil War South (/isis/citation/CBB078316403/)

Book Sarah F. Rose; (2017)
No Right to Be Idle: The Invention of Disability, 1840s–1930s (/isis/citation/CBB247390759/)

Thesis Byrom, Bradley Allen; (2004)
A Vision of Self Support: Disability and the Rehabilitation Movement in Progressive America (/isis/citation/CBB001562082/)

Book Aimi Hamraie; (2017)
Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (/isis/citation/CBB935113847/)

Authors & Contributors
Williamson, Bess
Sarah F. Rose
Booth, Katie
Frank Mondelli
Brian Craig Miller
Marcin Stasiak
Technology and Culture
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology
History and Technology
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Manchester University Press
Palgrave Pivot
The University of North Carolina Press
Bloomsbury Visual Arts
University of Virginia Press
University of Minnesota Press
Disabilities; disability; accessibility
Disability technology
Medicine and society
Medical technology
Auditory perception
Swail, James
Franco, Francisco
Bell, Alexander Graham
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Southern states (U.S.)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment