The research team have edited a special issue of the journal Disability and Rehabilitation, on the theme of ‘universal design’. The issue features eight papers written by leading international writers from a range of disciplines, including philosophy, social policy, architecture, and sociology. The papers outline some of the key challenges relating to the development of universal design, and discuss how far it may be possible to realise 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 universal design discourse that is challenging of design approaches that fail to respond to corporeal diversity, and, on the other hand, the incorporation of much universal design practice into conventional, conservative, design methodologies. Such methodologies, and their underlying epistemological bases, appear to delimit the understanding of person-hood to bodies-without-impairment, or cultural norms that define the universal subject in ways whereby disabled people are regarded as aberrations. This observation leads contributors to the special issue to interrogate how far, and in what ways, practitioners may be able to develop universal design not only as a ‘‘design strategy’’, but as a political stratagem that has the potential to transform the dominant world view of universal ablebodiedness [12,13].
To view the papers, visit: http://informahealthcare.com/toc/dre/36/16