What Can Universal Design Know?: Bodies as Evidence in Disability-Accessible Design Open Access

Hamraie, Aimi (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7d278t65d?locale=en
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Abstract

Universal Design (UD) is a movement to make the built environment accessible to a broad range of human diversity. UD emerged in the mid-1980s as an alternative to barrier-free approaches to disability access. Existing scholarship has largely taken UD for granted as the best, most inclusive approach to design. The design studies literature on UD focuses on evaluating specific designs, promoting accessibility to designers, or arguing that UD can result in better implementation of the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the humanities and social sciences, critical disability studies scholars often cite UD as proof of the validity of social constructivist models of disability. These fields have neglected an in-depth exploration of UD's historical emergence through 19th and 20th century scientific research practices that have often been at odds with the goal of disability inclusion. This dissertation is the first major attempt to address this gap in existing knowledge about UD. Applying a methodology from the history and philosophy of science, called historical epistemology, I explore the history of UD as an epistemic community emerging from a number of scientific research milieus, including eugenics, rehabilitation, scientific management, and military human factors research. I argue that UD is made possible by epistemic regimes that make human bodies legible as evidence to designers, but that emerged from projects of standardizing, eliminating, or curing disability. UD performs epistemological activism within these regimes, intervening to challenge their epistemologies and methodologies, and creating new ways of knowing bodies that can make better disability access possible.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Can Universal Design Know?...1

UD as a political and material intervention...4

Barrier-free design and federal guidelines...5
The ADA and formal equality...7
The ADA and meaningful accessibility...15
Universal Design as an alternative to the ADA...17

Theorizing Universal Design...19

Universal Design and Disability Studies...23
Geographies of access...25
Interdependence and collective access...26
The normate template: a feminist disability design concept...29
Value-explicit design: what built environments do and say...33
What designers know: the normate template and epistemologies of ignorance...36

Methodology...41

Proper objects...45
Historical epistemology...48
Transforming historical epistemology...55
Disability history as historical epistemology...56
Feminist science studies and disability historical epistemology...58
Intervening theoretically: Universal Design as an epistemic practice...65
Design thinking and logical styles...65
Evidence-based design...70
The normate template...72

Dissertation overview...73

Chapter 1: The User as an Epistemic Object...77

Introduction...77
The User as a Unit for Universal Design...78
Theorizing the user...81

Bodies as evidence, or why knowledge matters for design...83

The User and epistemologies of ignorance...86

Users as an evidence-base...88

The User and the 'Human Factor'...89

Military human factors research...90
Human factors and scientific management...92
Human factors and evidence-based design...96
The System as the Fundamental Construct...98
The Rehabilitation Paradigm...103
Rehabilitation and epistemic authority...107

20th century rehabilitation after the World Wars...111

Rehabilitation and the intelligibility of the independent user...115
Assistive technology: rehabilitation, military, and industry...120
Rehabilitating the misfit: beyond male soldiers and normates...122
From military men to housewives...125
From the user to the consumer...127
Institutionalizing rehabilitation research...129

Conclusion...133

Chapter 2: Evidence and Function: the Emergence of Universal Design...136

Introduction...136
What is design?...138

Architectural design and user-centeredness...140

By design: Functionalism vs. Form...141

Standardization and the Organism: Building Systems and the Body as Template...145
Whose Body is the Architectural User?: The Average Man and Woman...153

Environmental Design Research and the Emergence of Evidence-based User-centered Design...158

History of the field...159
EDRA and Universal Design...162

The Barrier-Free Design Paradigm...165

Barrier-free Industrial Design...168

Universal Design: origin stories...173

The emergence of the term, Universal Design...174

Debating Universal and Design...176
UD as extra-legal intervention...177
Alternatives to Universal...180

The Seven Principles of Universal Design...183
UD and the Disability Rights Movement...194
Split approaches to UD intervention...197
Techno-rational approaches...198
Social justice approaches...199

Conclusion...201

Chapter 3: Evidence-Based Design: Anthropometry and the Normate Template...202

Introduction...202
Historical epistemology...205
The normate template...209

Vitruvius: the body as representative of an underlying nature...209
The Vitruvian imperative: the normative normate...214
The Vitruvian Man as data visualization...215

Measuring the normate in 19th century science and mathematics...218

Phrenology...218
Anthropometry...223
Early anthropometry and the emergence of statistics...225

The normate template in 20th century architecture...233

Anthropometric images for architectural design...234
Anthropometric images and industrial design...236

Challenging the normate template: the new disability anthropometry...239

Anthropometry and rehabilitation...240
Disability anthropometry and barrier-free design...241
Recent developments in disability anthropometry...246
Epistemic shifts...247

Historicizing technology...249
Proportionate sampling and shifts in statistical epistemology...251
Apparatuses and objects of measurement...253
The range and the philosophy of the norm...255
Beyond quantification...257

Conclusion...259

Conclusion...262

Critical terms...262
Contributions to interdisciplinary fields...263

Critical design studies...263
Critical disability studies...264
Feminist science & technology studies...265

Future research...266

UD, perception, and architectural phenomenology...266
UD and legal epistemology...268
UD and Standardization...268
Added value theories and marketizing discourses...269
UD in the Majority World...271

Conclusion...272

Works cited:...273
TABLES:

MODELS OF DISABILITY...56-57

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