You lost me, in the middle there, with some of the Singer stuff -- but
I agree with all you wrote, at the beginning and the end. How odd that
physical barriers are "outside my academic pigeon-hole"...to most, here.
A hyper-specialisation that doesn't serve the average PD on the street,
Re: What difference does it make if teachers of DS, are people who are
AB or people with disabilities?
In June '98 I attended the 1st international conference on "Universal
Design". (See my report on that , on-line, in the Nov.-Dec. '98 back
issue of "The Ragged Edge". go to: ragged-edge-mag.com ... click on
Since very few visibly disabled people were there (3% at most), I'd
guess that it was a very very heavily AB crowd. And this is basically
everyone in the world who's teaching it, or researching it. It's not a
big field, yet.
It was at Hofstra U. on Long Island. I got a ride back to New York one
night, with 2 design professors. One a dean of a school, too. Both
seemingly AB, and didn't disclose any disability. They were from out of
town, and parked near Grand Central Station. I took them on a brief
tour, since it was just renovated & restored & cleaned up. They ooh-ed
& ahhhhh-ed. Then I mentioned two things that were done, i violation of
the local accessibility code Local Law 58. I wanted to take them a few
dozen yards, (meters) to these 2 locations in the station, to show them
the new barriers. We just were at a conference about this stuff,
they're already teaching it, so we're all interested in this stuff,
They both looked at me as if I were crazy. The message was clear. They
didn't say it out loud, but the message was -- Why the hell would we be
interested in seeing that?
If nothing else, it was a case study in how a quasi governmental agency
-- had blithely ignored the recent (1989 at local level, 1990 at
national level) laws, that were supposed to prevent new inaccessible
construction. And how there was zero enforcement of these laws.
But they obviously thought that these barriers weren't barriers to THEM,
so why should they be interested? Why learn a little something? Unless
on paid-time. But their "paid time" had ended when we left the
conference, so their interest in the subject of Universal Design &
barriers had ended, too.
How could these 2 inspire curiosity, interest in the subject, and a
professional attitude, in their students (which includes, that a
professional designer is responsible after graduation, for conducting
his/her own lifelong continuing education)........... if they're so
utterly un-curious & disinterested in the subject, themselves?
After that, I was not at all surprised - to hear that the one who's also
a Dean, told me that "students are very conservative, these days".. and
he admitted that in several years of teaching a course in Universal
Design... he had YET to successfully, as a professor, sell even one
design student, on the idea that people with disabilities have a right
to access, without architectural barriers being built.
I submit that -- his personal lack of interest in newly-built
architectural barriers in a major public space, or in the human right of
accessibility (on his "unpaid time") .......... and his probable lack
of any disability which would define these things as barriers, to him
.......... and his admitted total failure as a UD teacher ..........
were almost certainly -- not unrelated.
Perhaps the students picked up on the fact, that underneath his
classroom talk on "paid-time", he didn't really seem to give a damn
about what he was teaching?
For some, "universal design" teaching may just be a way to make a buck,
when the course they really want to teach is "taken". Something "new"
they can "get in on the ground floor" of.... with less competition. I