Special Issue on Universal Design

Imrie, Rob and Luck, Rachael, eds. 2014. Special Issue on Universal Design, Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(16). 0963-8288 [Edited Journal]

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Abstract or Description

The papers in this issue reflect participants disquiet with the theoretical and conceptual content of universal design, and the epistemological and methodological bases shaping its understanding of disability and design. What seems to dominate is a positivistic, scientific, tradition, placing emphasis on the production of technical, objective, knowledge and its applications. Here, a dominant focus is process-based techniques, and the evaluation of UD in relation to issues of technical feasibility and operational outcomes. There is less evidence of the deployment of alternative epistemological frameworks by proponents of UD, and limited engagement with moral and political philosophy, or substantive matters that relate to the interrelationships between design and people’s flourishing and suffering within the world. There is also vagueness, in some of the literature, about key terms underpinning UD, such as ‘universal’ and ‘universalism’, and seminar participants were keen to explore the content of such foundational concepts, and their role in shaping UD discourse.

The papers in the special issue outline the key issues and challenges relating to the development of UD discourse, and discuss how far it may be possible to realize its radical intent in seeking to overturn deep rooted designer conventions that rarely respond to the needs of disabled people and impaired bodies. They draw attention to the tensions between, on the one hand, the propagation of a UD discourse that is challenging of design approaches that fail to respond to corporeal diversity, and, on the other hand, the incorporation of much UD practice into conventional, conservative, design methodologies.

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Edited Journal

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2 July 2014

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Date Deposited:

20 Oct 2014 13:38

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 09:37



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