How has the concept of Universal Design and its application to architectural practice changed over the years? Who is left out of design practices that are meant for “everyone”? What if the design industry actually employed the people with disabilities who have been designing adaptable and accessible products for decades?

Episode 67 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast is the second in a three-part miniseries that was recorded live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at a recent gathering of interdisciplinary cultural studies scholars. The three authors featured in this miniseries—Sami Schalk, Aimi Hamraie, and Heath Fogg Davis—have recently published cultural studies books that have made big splashes beyond the academy in the areas of speculative fiction, fan cultures, urban planning and design, law, and public policy. These authors’ books show how the intersections of disability, race, gender, and sexuality have shaped everything from sci-fi/fantasy novels to police violence, curb cut activism, urban architecture, and the design of public restrooms.

In this episode, host Cathy Hannabach talks with professor and designer Aimi Hamraie about their new book Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability.

Guest: Aimi Hamraie

Aimi Hamraie is an assistant professor of medicine, health and society, and American studies at Vanderbilt University. Aimi is also the director of the Mapping Access Project and the Critical Design Lab. Their interdisciplinary, feminist research spans critical disability theory, feminist and crip technoscience, new materialisms, and design. Their articles on disability and design appear in Disability Studies Quarterly, Foucault Studies, Design and Culture, Hypatia, philoSOPHIA, and Age, Culture, Humanities, as well as Disability Space Architecture, and The Politics of Place and Space. Aimi’s research has been funded by the Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts, the Social Science Research Council, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Their current project, which is grounded in the environmental humanities and permaculture ethics, examines the politics of health, disability, and more-than-human relations in the design of livable cities. Alongside this project, they also co-organize Office Ecologies, an art, science, and design collaborative, and they as well work to promote urban food forests as a permacultural designer in Nashville, Tennessee. Aimi is the author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability, which was published in 2017 by the University of Minnesota Press. In this book, they offer a groundbreaking critical history of Universal Design, a movement that seeks to design and redesign the world with disability at its center.

We chatted about

  • Aimi’s new book Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (03:00)
  • The principles of Universal Design (05:03)
  • How nondisabled designers depoliticize Universal Design (07:53)
  • The three primary aims of Building Access (11:39)
  • Situating Building Access within Critical Access Studies (17:13)
  • The politics of who is considered “everyone” in various design practices (21:53)
  • Pushing back on universalism that erases difference (23:19)

Red bokeh background with text that reads "Disabled people have used their embodied knowledge and self-dreicted design practices not only to hack their everyday environments but also to use design as an act of political protest and direct action, Aimi Hamraie on episode 67 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast"Takeaways

Aimi on the principles of Universal Design and its ever-evolving usage

The principles [of Universal Design] are equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use. In 1997, Ronald Mace and a group of his colleagues expanded the concept of Universal Design into a method and they wrote these principles to guide practitioners, values, and approaches. Whereas [Mace’s original] article was written before the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, these principles came afterward as an attempt to distinguish Universal Design from compliance with the law. And in the last 21 years since these principles were written, the concept of Universal Design has proliferated. It’s a mandate of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, a legal requirement in many countries, and it’s widely cited across a number of fields, including education, feminist studies, and critical disability studies….And in its short life, roughly the last 30 years, Universal Design has meant everything from disability access mandated by law to disability access that goes beyond the code to design for aging, to design for multiple specific types of users such as wheelchair users and mothers pushing strollers to design for an unnamed mass of all users or everyone.

Aimi on the troubling depoliticization of Universal Design in architectural practice

Whereas disability theorists take Universal Design for granted as a more accessible future in which disability is understood as a source of pride, a valuable way of being in the world, and as a pushback to medical models of disability, rehabilitationist Universal Design discourses push for design that hides or eliminates disability and very often they don’t talk about disability at all.…All of this has extended into the market around Universal Design products and resources, creating a curious situation in which designs and objects are being called Universal Design that either appropriate disability access for a mass market without crediting the disabled designers who created them or using the term Universal Design to describe products that have nothing to do with disability access at all….But, and this is the story that Building Access tells, Universal Design was not always so depoliticized.

Aimi on Building Access’s three key threads

The first is the epistemology of the user. This is answering the question of how do we get from design for an average or normate user to design for a range of users through what forms of knowledge and epidemic networks. The second thread is a based on a term that I’m calling “crip technoscience,” and this is the question of how disabled people have used their embodied knowledge and self-directed design practices not only to hack their everyday environments but also to use design as an act of political protest and direct action. This is a developed in reference to feminist ideas about technoscience. The third thread is what I’m calling “epistemic activism.” This is how disabled designers entered into the design professions and spaces, hegemonic spaces like legal code development, to perform interventions into research, education, and professional standards, often in ways that are not legible when we talk about the disability rights movement and more overt forms of direct action.

Aimi situating Building Access within disability studies and the disability justice movement

Given recent conversations about the norms and exclusions within disability studies, most particularly the prevailing whiteness of the field, the economic privilege that surrounds it, and the gender and sexuality norms that frame what we typically understand as disability and access issues, Building Access centers an intersectional framework and traces how accessibility and disability rights came to be constructed as a single-issue project separate from the projects of antiracism, desegregation, and feminism. The contemporary disability justice movement guided a lot of the historiography that I was applying and writing in this book. This movement is led by queer disabled people and disabled people of color. People like Patty Berne argue that we have to go beyond the disability rights framework and its emphasis on liberalism, economic productivity, and accessibility as legal compliance to work toward collective access and liberation. Disability justice decenters the norms of ablebodiedness that dominate architecture, but it also works like critical access studies by unsettling the norms and assumptions of disability rights and disability studies. So the disability justice approach to Universal Design that I’ve worked on developing attends to the way that rehabilitation-led accessibility was actually used to promote racial segregation, produce more compliant and productive workers, and reinforce pathologizing representations of disability.

Cathy on how universalism can erase difference

One of Aimi’s most significant questions is the question of if Universal Design is supposed to be “design for everyone,” who exactly counts as everyone? And through examples as varied as thermostats and countertops in the home and curb cuts and ramps in public spaces, Aimi shows how the category of “everyone” unfortunately still continues to mean nondisabled people—particularly white, cisgender, heteronormative, nondisabled people. This is a really important intervention into the assumption that Universal Design is somehow unproblematically desirable or commonsensical or “just good design,” which is a common argument that nondisabled designers make for it. Aimi points out that most often design practices that increase access for people with disabilities are justified only when they benefit “everyone,” meaning nondisabled people. So curb cuts, for example, are justified by saying that people with carts and skateboarders and people pushing strollers—who are almost always heteronormativity coded as women—can use them too. Of course, this implies that if a particular design practice only benefited marginalized people—for example, if it only benefited people with disabilities—it somehow wouldn’t be worthwhile, which is the problem with that argument itself. 

More from Aimi

Projects and people discussed

About Imagine Otherwise

Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at ideasonfire.net/imagine-otherwise-podcast. Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.

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Episode transcript

Cathy Hannabach [00:03]: Welcome to Imagine Otherwise, the podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining otherwise. I’m your host, Cathy Hannabach.

[00:22] Hi folks. Glad to have you here. This is episode 67 and is the second episode in a three-part miniseries that was recorded live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at a recent gathering of interdisciplinary, cultural studies scholars. Now, this marks the first time I’ve ever done a live show and it was a ton of fun to take the podcast on the road for these three episodes. So these three authors, Sami Schalk, who was featured in episode 66, Aimi Hamraie, who’s featured in this episode, and Heath Fogg Davis, who’s featured in the next episode, episode 68, have all recently published cultural studies books that have made big splashes beyond the academy in areas like speculative fiction, fan cultures, urban planning and design, law, and public policy. These authors’ books show how the intersections of disability, race, gender, and sexuality have shaped everything from sci-fi/fantasy novels to police violence, curb cut activism, urban architecture, and the design of public restrooms.

[01:21] So up today is Aimi Hamraie, who’s an assistant professor of medicine, health and society, as well as American studies at Vanderbilt University. Aimi is also the director of the Mapping Access Project and the Critical Design Lab. Their interdisciplinary, feminist research spans critical disability theory, feminist and crip technoscience, new materialisms and design. Their articles on disability and design appear in Disability Studies Quarterly, Foucault Studies, Design and Culture, Hypatia, philoSOPHIA, and Age, Culture, Humanities, as well as Disability Space Architecture, and The Politics of Place and Space. Aimi’s research has been funded by the Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts, the Social Science Research Council, the National HumanitiesAalliance, and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Their current project, which is grounded in the environmental humanities and permaculture ethics, examines the politics of health, disability, and more-than-human relations in the design of livable cities. Alongside this project, they also co-organize Office Ecologies, an art, science, and design collaborative, and they as well work to promote urban food forests as a permacultural designer in Nashville, Tennessee. Aimi is the author of the book that we’re here to talk about today, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. This book was published in 2017 by the University of Minnesota Press. In this book, they offer a groundbreaking critical history of Universal Design, a movement that seeks to design and redesign the world with disability at its center.

So here’s Aimi.

Aimi Hamraie [03:00] I’m Aimi Hamraie and my book is called Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. It was published by the University of Minnesota press and November of 2017. I’m really excited to be here today. [At the live event, Aimi pointed to the table at the front of the room] If anyone needs an access copy, there are 12- and 18-point-font versions of the paper that I’m giving on the table up here. [Aimi pointed to the projector screen] On the screen I’m showing a cover of my book, which has the book title and my name against a blue background and then a background image from an architectural handbook that shows wheelchair users extending their arms into space. This is the type of image that architects today use when they’re designing for disability.

I want to thank Cathy for organizing this session and for inviting me here to talk about my book.

So to begin: in 1985, Ronald Mace, who is a white disabled man and a licensed architect from North Carolina, wrote an article in Designers West magazine arguing that disabled people are a marginalized but sizable population with political and cultural power and that because of this, architects, builders, etc. should design the world with disability in mind. Mace argued that this was actually common sense in a world in which more and more people are living and surviving with disabilities and in which aging means that many people will experience impairments.

[04:31] He called this set of ideas Universal Design and spent the rest of his career advocating for it. As I argue in my book though, Universal Design has a much longer prehistory and it has meant very different things to different people. It has been used strategically towards different goals. And Mace’s frequently cited article, as one of the foundations of this movement, was really just one in a set of ongoing experiments with how to persuade designers to create a more accessible world.

[At the live event, Aimi pointed to the projector screen here] Here I’m showing a poster of the principles of Universal Design, which was published in 1997 by the center for Universal Design. It’s very colorful, it has kind of like hot pink and neon green and some pictures of different types of designs. And then it lists the principles which are: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use.

[05:32] In 1997, Mace and a group of his colleagues expanded the concept of Universal Design into a method and they wrote these principles to guide practitioners, values, and approaches. Whereas the article was written before the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, these principles came afterward as an attempt to distinguish Universal Design from compliance with the law. And in the last 21 years since these principles were written, the concept of Universal Design has proliferated. It’s a mandate of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, a legal requirement in many countries, and it’s widely cited across a number of fields, including education, feminist studies, and critical disability studies. As it is sited, I argue in my book, this concept is also reiterated, rewritten, and transformed. And its short life, roughly the last 30 years, Universal Design has meant everything from disability access mandated by law to disability access that goes beyond the code to design for aging, to design for multiple specific types of users such as wheelchair users and mothers pushing strollers to design for an unnamed mass of all users or everyone.

[06:48] And so a lot of the book is parsing the politics of each of these user groups and ways of knowing them. In feminist, queer, trans, and disability studies, Universal Design has become kind of a holy grail, a quality of an imagined future in which all of us, all of our bodyminds (that’s a term from Margaret Price) are anticipated and valued in social, technical, and built structures—the embodiment of what Alison Kaefer calls an “accessible future.”

When disability studies scholars critique medicalization, rehabilitation, and the imperatives for normalcy, we often reach toward Universal Design as the solution to the errors of the present state of things. We invoke Universal Design in an almost ritualized way, though what we mean by it is almost always different. Sometimes we mean broad accessibility for many types of people. Sometimes we mean built-in accessibility that was included in the design process. And sometimes we mean that accessibility for disabled people also benefits nondisabled people.

[07:59] But there is another world beyond disability theory and this is the world of actual architectural practice. For reasons that puzzled me when I began this project about 10 years ago, the architectural practice of Universal Design is dominated by terms, knowledge bases, and approaches from the field of rehabilitation. Whereas disability theorists take Universal Design for granted as a more accessible future in which disability is understood as a source of pride, a valuable way of being in the world, and as a pushback to medical models of disability, rehabilitationist Universal Design discourses push for design that hides or eliminates disability and very often they don’t talk about disability at all. They appear to approach Universal Design through research frameworks that were actually developed for military-industrial purposes like ergonomics and, in the case of anthropometrics, the measurement of how much space pick bodies take up, eugenics. And so the prevailing focus within this kind of rehabilitation model of Universal Design remains nondisabled designers creating things for disabled people rather than recognizing the value of design by disabled people.

[09:08] And all of this has extended into the market around Universal Design products and resources, creating a curious situation in which designs and objects are being called Universal Design that either appropriate disability access for a mass market without crediting the disabled designers who created them or using the term Universal Design to describe products that have nothing to do with disability access at all. To that we can add the race, gender, and class norms that can configure the current understanding of the user in architecture more generally and within Universal Design, including the continued display of white, cisgender bodies engaged in employment or domestic labor or as consumers. But, and this is the story that Building Access tells, Universal Design was not always so depoliticized. The book explores the radical origins of disability access, the development of intersectional theories of Universal Design, as well as the mechanisms through which this concept came to be dominated by antidisability, white, cisgender frameworks. And so one of the central questions driving the book is how can a concept that disability and feminist scholars center in our paths to liberation be so enmeshed with the medical scientific, military, industrial, and consumer systems that we also critique.

[10:33] Building Access takes an archeological approach to digging up the historical threads that made the phenomenon that we call Universal Design, and so to that end, there’s a really deep engagement with material culture. The book has about 80 images. These are culled from diverse archival sources, including well-known disability and design archives, such as the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, the Smithsonian’s Archive Center and Lemelson Center, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and a few others. But the most important objects and documents in the book actually come from the private collections of Universal Design founders, and these are ones that I was fortunate to have exclusive access to. These were collections that were held in people’s homes in unsorted boxes under staircases and in shoe boxes and things like that. In the book, I guide the reader through many of these unfamiliar architectural practices and knowledges and network surrounding Universal Design using these objects to tell the story

[11:38] I had three primary aims when I was writing Building Access. The first was to provide a more critical and historical account of accessibility and Universal Design than currently exists. Most of what is written about these concepts right now seeks to convince the unconvinced of their validity. This means that it is written to explain to people who don’t believe that accessibility is important that they should believe that accessibility is important. But because of this, we often, when we’re talking about accessibility in kind of more theoretical or cultural context, we often just repeat basic aphorisms about accessibility and Universal Design rather than driving the theory forward. And so I think that what we need is to explore the ideological basis of what is considered “good design” and to historicize it.

[12:36] The second point of the book is to conceptualize the historical project of knowing and making access. This is a phenomenon that I call access-knowledge (with a hyphen) through critical disability, race, and feminist new materialist perspectives, and thus develop a Universal Design theory that is attentive to issues of power and privilege.

The third goal of the book is to elucidate in broad strokes how the shifting figure of the user, particularly the disabled user, has shaped the justifications for the material practices of Universal Design today. So this book is not a catalog of specific design examples or interventions. While it explores the origins of designs such as the curb cut, the wheelchair ramp, the wall thermostat, the all-gender restroom, it also has a much more historical and conceptual focus because my concern was with the implications of how we imagine and configure the figure of the user, justify design for particular users, and tell stories about the value that these designs have for broader questions of difference and belonging.

[13:42] And so this is more of a cultural studies method than a traditional design history method. Building Access offers scholars, activists, designers, and users who already support the project of accessible worldbuilding a map of our paths to the present. At its core, the book is about the material ramifications of stories, ideas, words, and representations as they coalesce into broader discourses of not only disability but also race, gender, and nation.

But it’s also about knowledge and ignorance as material arrangements. And so Building Access looks at how access-knowledge animated the specific relationships between science, architecture, industry, nation, and the bodies of disabled people. It draws on an archive that includes design, ephemera documents, oral histories, handbooks, publications, marketing materials, physical objects and spaces, and also personal papers from the Universal Design founders like Ron Mace.

[14:52] All of this is toward the goal of historicizing the claim that designers don’t design with disability in mind. I wanted to know why is this the case and how has it shifted and changed and who has made interventions towards this. And so what I argue is that the emergence of Universal Design can’t be reduced to common sense, goodwill, or the affordances of the state. And it’s not simply a matter of keeping disabled users in mind. Instead, it’s a matter of epistemology.

In the book I focus on three different threads. There are roughly two chapters per thread. The first is the epistemology of the user. This is answering the question of how do we get from design for an average or normate user to design for a range of users through what forms of knowledge and epidemic networks. The second thread is a based on a term that I’m calling crip technoscience, and this is the question of how disabled people have used their embodied knowledge and self-directed design practices not only to hack their everyday environments but also to use design as an act of political protest and direct action. This is a developed in reference to feminist ideas about technoscience

[16:00] And the third thread is what I’m calling epistemic activism. This is how disabled designers entered into the design professions and spaces, hegemonic spaces like legal code development, to perform interventions into research, education, and professional standards, often in ways that are not legible when we talk about the disability rights movement and more overt forms of direct action.

I came to this work as a disabled person and as a feminist and disability studies scholar with an interest in new materialisms and the politics of worldbuilding and because as a feminist epistemologist working in science and technology studies, I’ve learned that universals are not just incomplete promises, but they’re also strategic shapings of legibility and perception to produce particular and powerful material arrangements. And so I’m at once deeply invested in this project of Universal Design and also a careful, critical observant of what Donna Haraway calls the non-innocent paths that have led us to the present.

[17:13] Building Access is part of a growing field of knowledge that I’m calling critical access studies. Unlike the majority of research on access, which is about persuading people to create more of it, critical access studies addresses the assumptions and strategies of those who are already committed to access. And so some of the people who I think of as part of this growing field include Mia Mingus, Jay Dolmage, Tanya Titchkosky, Margaret Price, Melanie Yergeau, and others who have asked us to rethink not just the actual best practices for access in terms of whether we use a checklist or a technical procedure, but also for the creative and theoretical opportunities that world-building affords.

[18:14] Given recent conversations about the norms and exclusions within disability studies, most particularly the prevailing whiteness of the field, the economic privilege that surrounds it, the gender and sexuality norms that frame what we typically understand as disability and  access issues, Building Access centers and intersectional framework and actually traces how accessibility and disability rights came to be constructed as a single-issue project separate from the projects of antiracism, desegregation, and feminism.

The contemporary disability justice movement guided a lot of the historiography that I was applying and writing in this book. This movement is led by queer disabled people and disabled people of color. People like Patty Berne argue that we have to go beyond the disability rights framework and its emphasis on liberalism, economic productivity, and accessibility as legal compliance to work toward collective access and liberation. Disability justice decenters the norms of ablebodiedness that dominate architecture, but it also works like critical access studies by unsettling the norms and assumptions of disability rights and disability studies. So the disability justice approach to Universal Design that I’ve worked on developing attends to the way that rehabilitation-led accessibility was actually used to promote racial segregation, produce more compliant and productive workers, and reinforce pathologizing representations of disability.

[19:28] And then I look at the ways that the contemporary Universal Design movement was challenged. Disability justice also requires paying close attention to the subtle material epistemic work of disabled people who perform activism in unlikely places and through mechanisms that may not always be legible, including not just do-it-yourself design but things like writing design handbooks that are meant to be one for one thing and then writing them with more of a liberation focus.

And so in many ways, and this is actually the thing that I’ve heard the most feedback from readers about, Building Access, is not just a history of Universal Design, which is a concept that formed roughly at the same time as the field of disability studies, but it’s also a history of disability studies itself as well as disability rights and disability justice, including how intersectionality or the lack thereof came to materialize through material arrangements. And so we can think of Building Access as a history of why disability rights and disability studies have been dominated by whiteness and also a history of the overlooked design work of disabled activists who hacked and tinkered with our everyday environments and entered into the design professions to change them from within.

[20:42] Some of these points kind of pick up on different types of institutional work that many of us perform—I’m thinking of kind of like subtle rearranging of perceptions and material relations—within universities, for example. These points have implications also for the expansion of Universal Design beyond architecture as it now is spreading into urban planning and issues of gentrification and web and tech access and into a conceptual framework for thinking about issues that appear unrelated to disability.

So I’m going to end here and I’m, and I’m looking forward to Cathy’s comments. Thank you.

Cathy [21:20]: So I was the respondent at Aimi’s talk at the event itself and although we didn’t record that part of it live, I’ll offer here some of my remarks regarding the implications of Aimi’s really fantastic book Building Access.

So first and foremost, I love this book. It’s incredibly smart, it’s thorough, and it gives a really fantastically interesting critical history of how architects, activists, and everyday users invented the concept of Universal Design and used it for often very different ends.

One of Aimi’s most significant questions, I think, is the question of if Universal Design is supposed to be “design for everyone,” the kind of tagline that gets attached to it, who exactly counts as everyone? And through examples as varied as thermostats and countertops in the home and curb cuts and ramps in public spaces. Aimi shows how the category of “everyone” unfortunately still continues to mean nondisabled people—particularly white, cisgender, heteronormative, nondisabled people.

[22:24] And I think this is a really important intervention into the assumption that Universal Design is somehow unproblematically desirable or commonsensical or quote “just good design,” which is a common argument that nondisabled designers make for it. Aimi points out that most often design practices that increase access for people with disabilities are justified only when they benefit quote “everyone,” meaning nondisabled people. So curb cuts, for example, are justified by saying that people with carts and skateboarders and people pushing strollers—who are almost always heteronormativity coded as women—can use them too. Of course, this implies that if a particular design practice only benefited marginalized people—for example, if it only benefited people with disabilities—it somehow wouldn’t be worthwhile, which is the problem with that argument itself.

[23:24] I was also struck by Aimi’s critique of the universalizing tendency in mainstream Universal Design and disability discourse. So we hear, for example, lawmakers and companies and even some disability rights activists say things like “we’re all disabled” or “we will all get old someday and therefore everyone should care about accessibility and disability rights.” And in their book, Aimi shows how this claim seeks to actually erase difference. It seeks to erase disability itself by making it universal: “we are all the same.” It also seeks to erase politics: “Universal Design is just good business sense. It’s not about power differentials or activist struggles that are still going on because oppression and inequality still reign.” And that’s what this kind of argument does.

[24:15] This brings me to my final question that I raised at the event, which I think Aimi’s book does a really fantastic job of prompting, which is how can we talk productively about aging without falling into the traps of universalism by either erasing difference in people with disabilities in the name of sameness or falling into the trap of ageism by ignoring age altogether.

In other words, how can we talk about the ways that bodies age and how they thus change their relationship to the category of disability over time?

Aimi had a really fantastic response to my question at the event and they noted that that response comes from the field of critical aging studies. Aimi pointed out that aging is not in fact a universal phenomenon. Getting to old age and experiencing the bodily changes associated with that is only possible for people with privilege. White, cisgender, heteronormative, nondisabled, wealthy citizens get to look forward to long lives and aging bodies, but people of color, disabled people, poor people, trans and gender nonconforming people, queer people, undocumented people, and people with mental illness are more likely to be shot by police, face homophobic and transphobic violence, be locked up in prisons or deported, or be left to die in hospitals or elsewhere by medical and legal system that says that their lives don’t matter.

[25:45] So highlighting the worldmaking practices that disabled designers, activists, and users have long used to fight this kind of dehumanization as well as create worlds that are more just more creative and more collectively helpful for all of us, Aimi’s book Building Access is a superb critical history of disability activism and design and it’s a vital contribution to imagining otherwise.

This concludes episode 67 with Aimi Hamraie. If you haven’t already listened to episode 66 with Sami Schalk, I highly recommend it as it takes up a lot of the issues that Aimi talked about here today, including disability studies, social justice, and the politics of representation. And keep an ear out for the next and final episode in this miniseries which features another scholar whose recent book brings together disability studies, transgender studies, and feminist theory: Heath Fogg Davis.

[upbeat music in background] Thanks for listening to another episode of Imagine Otherwise. Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire and this episode was created by Christopher Persaud, Rebecca Reynolds, Michelle Velasquez-Potts,and myself, Cathy Hannabach.

You can check out the show notes for this episode on our website at ideasonfire.net where you can also read about our fabulous guest as well as find links to the people and projects we discuss on the show. [music fadeout]