Disability and Rehabilitation have published a Special Issue on Universal Design (vol 36, no. 16, 2014), edited by Rob Imrie and Rachael Luck. This includes my paper ‘Web accessibility standards and disability: developing critical perspectives on accessibility‘ (abstract follows below). If you would like to download the paper, but do not have access to the journal you can access one of 15 ePrints I have to give away. Alternatively, get in touch with me directly via selewthwaite [at] gmail.com. Here are the details:
Abstract: Web accessibility standards and disability: developing critical perspectives on accessibility.
Purpose: Currently, dominant web accessibility standards do not respect disability as a complex and culturally contingent interaction; recognizing that disability is a variable, contrary and political power relation, rather than a biological limit. Against this background there is clear scope to broaden the ways in which accessibility standards are understood, developed and applied.
Results: The values that shape and are shaped by legislation promote universal, statistical and automated approaches to web accessibility. This results in web accessibility standards conveying powerful norms fixing the relationship between technology and disability, irrespective of geographical, social, technological or cultural diversity.
Conclusions: Web accessibility standards are designed to enact universal principles; however, they express partial and biopolitical understandings of the relation between disability and technology. These values can be limiting, and potentially counter-productive, for example, for the majority of disabled people in the “Global South” where different contexts constitute different disabilities and different experiences of web access. To create more robust, accessible outcomes for disabled people, research and standards practice should diversify to embrace more interactional accounts of disability in different settings.
Imrie and Luck’s special issue is a landmark collection in the conceptual development of Universal Design. Amongst the papers, ‘Parallels and problems of normalization in rehabilitation and universal design: enabling connectivities’, by Barbara E. Gibson is available as an Open Access PDF. Other titles include:
- ‘Designing inclusive environments: rehabilitating the body and the relevance of universal design’, by Rob Imrie, Rachael Luck
- ‘Universally design social policy: when disability disappears?’ by Jerome Bickenbach
- ‘Universal design and the challenge of diversity: reflections on the principles of UD, based on empirical research of people’s mobility’ by Myriam Winance
- ‘Universal Design and disability: an interdisciplinary perspective’ by Inger Marie Lid
- ‘DeafSpace and the principles of universal design’ by Claire Edwards and Gill Harold
- ‘About the nature of design in universal design’ by Ann Heylighen
- ‘Situating universal design architecture: designing with whom?’ by Paul Jones
Further presentations and podcasts from the series of seminars that led this this special issue are available via the universalising design project website which rewards exploration. Comments and questions, as ever, are welcome!