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Designing disability : symbols, space, and society / Elizabeth Guffey.

By: Guffey, Elizabeth E [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Bloomsbury Academic, An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2018Description: xv, 223 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.Content type: text | still image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781350004283; 1350004286; 1350004278; 9781350004276.Subject(s): Barrier-free design -- History | International Symbol of Access | Signs and symbols -- Social aspects -- HistoryDDC classification: 720.87
History of an Idea: Access ( -1961) -- Redesigning Signs and Space (1961-1974) -- A Mark of Identity? (1974-Today).
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Designing Disability traces the emergence of an idea and an ideal physical access for the disabled through the evolution of the iconic International Symbol of Access (ISA). The book draws on design history, material culture and recent critical disability studies to examine not only the development of a design icon, but also the cultural history surrounding it.
Infirmity and illness may be seen as part of human experience, but disability ' is a social construct, a way of thinking about and responding to a natural human condition. Elizabeth Guffey 's highly original and wide-ranging study considers the period both before and after the introduction of the ISA, tracing the design history of the wheelchair, a product which revolutionised the mobility needs of many disabled people from the 1930s onwards. She also examines the rise of barrier-free architecture ' in the reception of the ISA, and explores how the symbol became widely adopted and even a mark of identity for some, especially within the Disability Rights Movement.
Yet despite the social progress which is inextricably linked to the ISA, a growing debate has unfurled around the symbol and its meanings. The most vigorous critiques today have involved guerrilla art, graffiti and studio practice, reflecting new challenges to the relationship between design and disability in the twenty-first century.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 195-212) and index.

History of an Idea: Access ( -1961) -- Redesigning Signs and Space (1961-1974) -- A Mark of Identity? (1974-Today).

Reviews provided by Syndetics


This important study emphasizes the multiple challenges disabled people face in building environments and questions legislation and cultural attitudes in design. Connecting the designed environment with mobility, Guffey (SUNY, Purchase) focuses on the wheelchair, as the International Symbol of Access (ISA) and its meaning for many types of disabilities. Offering insights from a disabled person's view, the author looks at fairness in social interaction and the endorsement of universal design to shape a world usable by all types of bodies. Disability is more a social condition than a physical state, and the idea of "misfit" for accommodation is a physical environmental issue supported by social attitudes. Deeply connecting ideas of disability to design practices, Guffey sees designers as inventors of better fits between disabled persons and constructed spaces. The book is divided into three chronological parts, the first of which provides a historical review of disability and the ISA. Part 2 (1961-74) looks at the role of the ISA in broader debates about access, rights, and space, and part 3 (1974 to the present) focuses on the symbol's limitations and disconnect with ideas of disability today. A valuable resource on the juncture of design, power, politics, and humanity. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --S. Dorothea Scott-Fundling, Marymount University