Mellon Forum: DISABILITY with David Serlin and Bess Williamson

Staged Encounters | Embodiment, Architecture, and Urbanism
Spring 2020 Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment

April 9 / Disability / 12pm / via Zoom, links to be provided

With David Serlin, UC San Diego, and Bess Williamson, SAIC

Design’s relationship to disability is commonly discussed through the concept of universal design. However, the divergent approaches that operate under the term universal design point to the different stakes, ideologies, and politics that undergird design’s potential relationship to disability. The concept of universal design can be used to foreground disabled users and disability rights activism, drawing connections between the barriers faced by disabled users and the barriers faced by other spatially marginalized and excluded communities. Or the concept of universal design can steer away from disability-explicit design toward design for an imagined but unspecified “everyone.” In this conversation, the panelists will consider how an explicitly disability-focused design might differ from design that attempts to eliminate disability or build for an imagined “everyone,” and how the built environment might already reflect or challenge assumptions about the needs, abilities, life conditions, and desires of bodies. 

The Spring 2020 Mellon Forum is organized by Kinohi Nishikawa, Department of English, and Ashlie Sandoval, Princeton Mellon Fellow. The Mellon Forum is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, Department of Art + Archaeology, Program in American Studies, and the School of Architecture.