October 18, 2008

Walking on Water: Taking the Next Step to Inclusion

Over on the Temple University Disability Studies blog is a the following quote from Simi Linton's book My Body Politic:

My earlier body had been trained to walk such steps and my eyes to appreciate their grandeur. I grew up thinking, although I'm sure I never said it out loud, that steps are either a pragmatic solution, a means to connect spaces of different heights, or they are an aesthetic element, added onto a design because it makes the building more beautiful. But now, with their function lost to me, their beauty began to fade, and I saw something I hadn't noted before--attitude. Steps, and particularly these steps at Columbia, seemed arrogant. The big buildings sitting up on top said, "The worthy can climb up to me, I will not kneel down and open my doors to those below me."... The design of steps forbids the wheelchair user, and the designer of these steps, deliberately or unwittingly, provided us only a solitary and difficult route to get where those steps took all others. (p. 57)


Disability with a rapid onset during youth seems to produce such searing insights into self and reality as Simi was capable of. For those who achieve disability through aging, enlightenment is often slowed but still life-changing when it breaks through. Often, as our recent interviews with yacht owners and builders revealed, it brings changes to expectations for inclusion in areas most often reserved for the mature and financially stable Yachting, for example.

With the Waypoint-Backstrom Principles of human-centered maritime design the aesthetic of exclusion is further peeled away as maritime design is no longer given safe harbor to exclude.

The Principles start by assuming Universal Design and proceed to a closer look at the interplay between function and disability in a water-based environment. As Alan Sorum quoted Sherri Backstrom in his piece "Universal Marine Industry Design":

"One of our objectives right now is pulling together a team from around the world to further develop these Principles. We envision a team which will include the experienced, as well as the innovative in the fields of yacht designers, engineers and builders, UD maritime product developers, owners and investors of new and redesigned accessible yachts, and UD engineers involved in the development of inclusive land-side/maritime amenities."


More on the Waypoint-Backstrom Principles:


Attitudes of seaworthiness are changing as human-centered design gains prominence.

Posted by rollingrains at October 18, 2008 11:13 PM