A One-dimensional Understanding of Disability

Nancy Hensen sets u p the arguments well in her paer, "Remapping the Medical Terrain on Our Terms."

This section can serve as an analysis of why Universal Design is still so essential:

The boundaries between the community, the individual and the
body are fluid although they are often presented as fixed and
unchanging. Certain bodies have yet to "belong".
People with disabilities would seem to get caught up in a cycle
of limited social expectation on the part of the able-bodied
mainstream, perhaps fuelled by a combination of factors
ranging from lack of exposure to people with disabilities
in regular social situations to projected discomfort levels
arising from the assumed helplessness regularly associated
with varying levels of physicality. As a result, people with
disabilities may spend significant amounts of time and energy
negotiating their way through public spaces.


Here she addresses embodiment and identity:

The presence of people with disabilities
challenges the entrenched social ideals of what is the
acceptable adult body. In many ways people with disabilities
are viewed as not fully human by society at large, although
this form of dysfunctional reductionism is rarely perceived
or acknowledged within the collective social consciousness.
Disability is not readily subsumed as part of identity in
the same manner as gender, ethnicity, and sexuality have
been. A "normal body" (whatever it may be) is equated
with a "normal" life although the parameters of the concept
are not clearly defined. Social understanding of disability
and impairment seems to be one-dimensional. Many
times the level of engagement would seem to be evaluated
in unsophisticated ways, namely in terms of the individual's
apparent dysfunction.

Source: Aporia Vol.1, Numéro 3/Vol.1, Issue 3

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