Voice of America Enunciates Universal Design


Adam Phillips, in Disability Services Help Others, Too, starts out with the obligatory warming up exercise where America pats itself on the back for the ADA. He goes on to offer a slight grace note about "universal design."

The surprisre is that he works in feminism, disability studies, and one of the core principles of disability culture -- interdependency -- by quoting Michael Berube and Susan Squire:

In fact, the disabled and the "able" are connected in deeper ways than are usually assumed, says Susan Squire, a professor who incorporates disability studies into her literature and women's studies classes. "The assumption that disability is one section of the population and ability is the other is ridiculous," she says. "All of us shift all the time in and out of different modes of ability and disability. Throughout life we need other people's help many times. The fantasy of independence is just a fantasy!"

On the other hand, says Michael Berube, nobody in the disability rights movement marches under the banner "more dependence." "It was always a movement about creating greater independence for people with disabilities," he says. "This is a conundrum. We all need an extraordinary amount of help to become independent to differing degrees. We reach some kind of independence in some areas of our lives and not in others. But none of us get there by ourselves. Everyone requires some measure of 'reasonable accommodation."

The passing reference to UD -- with no reference to the seven principles of Universal Design -- can almost be forgiven as he includes Shannon Walters on Universal Design for learning (UDL, although he does not name the concept) and Richard Devon.

Alas, the photo shows a retrofit ramp -- sterile, no style!



Meanwhile, a little further north, Mississauga holds a training on Universal Design

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