Posted by: mumriken | November 10, 2011

Acceptance and Normality

I am currently giving a course on Universal Design and Evaluation at Uppsala University. This is the first time I am giving this course, and it is really exciting for me. I am especially happy to see the faces of my students in this course, as they listen to my lectures and enter the discussions. I feel understood, even more, many times it feels as if we think the same way.

During one of my lectures on Stimatization, I had a sudden insight, which I think is very important. We keep talking about inclusive design, universal design and design for all, and this is of course very important. Better design of artifacts and environments are crucial and there is a lot of work to do in these fields.

However, when we talked about Stigmatization as a general issue, it becomes equally important to think about the societal view on deviation(°). We may design things well enough, and we may make architectural solutions that are ingenious, but if we can’t make this into a general change of attitude among people it will all be in vain, people will still stare at a wheel chair, people will still feel uncertain when they see a Hoover (white) cane.

Stigmatization will not be removed, only by Design (although I am certain that a good Design can do a great contribution as well), but also by changing the view on Normality. I think that Normality is the main key to Acceptance, and Acceptance in turn will be a major key for the removal of Stigmatization. I will get back to this in a later Blog entry. But for now, I think it is enough to start the mind thinking about how we can normalize the deviation. And make “them” (the deviant) into “us”.

(°) The use of the word “deviation” here is not intended to be used in derogatory sense. It just asserts that there IS an apparent difference which is caused by an impairment or other categorizing personal property, which can be the cause of people staring or avoiding encounters.


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