disability and kairotic spaces

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resonant design

ethic of inclusion

Photo of a glass sculpture descending from a glass ceiling. The sculpture is shaped like a red plant with a blue stem.
michael j. salvo » over here » resonant design

Resonant design

Pullin offers such clear language, so economically and judiciously avoiding many pitfalls, avoiding political and social complications by simply setting out terms and delimiting them. His is also a modernist position, set to control the definition of the terms of debate, yet it is also very seductive and powerful. Resonant design, differing from universal design, is nevertheless a mirage, an unattainable utopian promise, yet wonderfully suggestive and emotionally gratifying. Underneath is the more messy and perhaps even more postmodern or at least poststructural potential of including stakeholders in the process of design creation and artifact making, of recognizing the import of iterative design, of trying over and over to realize resonance, failing, and starting again with the endpoint of the last iteration as the beginning of the latest generation.

All the texts presented here remind us that resonant design moves beyond the position of designing for an unfortunate body, a mad or challenged mind, for the disabled. Rather, resonant design reminds, in Pullin’s (2009) words again:

In the context of an environment or society that takes little or no account of impairment, people's activities can be limited and their social participation restricted. People are therefore disabled by the society they live in, not directly by their impairment, which is an argument for using the term disabled people, rather than people with disabilities. (p. 2)

Wonderfully, Pullin switched the dominant and subaltern here, revolutionizing—turning—ableist/disabled language and offering a satisfying solution in language. Pullin reversed the relationship between abled and disabled and relocated the power to disable not in the people left without options but in the social processes that define insiders and outsiders. Societies with their limitations on the definition of normal body functionality disable people outside this narrow band. However, it does not significantly alter the ability of culture and power to define the band of normality, but instead places the traditionally displaced at the center. Pullin gestured toward but does not detail how participation and dialogic engagement alter these networks of power and language.