Enabling everything: scale, disability and the film The Theory of Everything

This article by Vickie Gauci and Anne-Marie Callus has open access and is free to download.  It discusses access and inclusion from the perspective of Stephen Hawking as portrayed in the recent film, The Theory of Everything.  As Hawking says, “In twenty years, men may be able to live on the Moon. In forty years we may get to Mars. In the next 200 years we may leave the solar system and head for the stars. But meanwhile, we would like to get to the supermarket, the cinema, restaurants.”

Abstract: This article looks at the representation of scale in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, identifying moments that relate to three concerns: firstly, how disabled people experience scale issues at an all too practical level in daily life; secondly, how Hawking’s experience of scale at the level of both body and mind is (a)typical of the way it is experienced by disabled people generally; and, thirdly, how a focus on the film can prompt some rethinking of perspectives both within disability studies and within the conceptualisation of scale more broadly.

 

Stella Young and Insiprational Porn

stella youngIn this entertaining video the late Stella Young talks about how we have been sold a lie about people with disability being ‘inspirational’ for just being themselves. She also argues that people with disability have been objectified in this process as being ‘special’ in some way and not counted as normal everyday people doing everyday jobs in an everyday world. On the topic of a positive attitude Stella says, “No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp.”

Accessibility, UD and ‘reasonable accommodation’

The social model in the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Agustina Palacios’ article in The age of Human Rights Journal takes a human rights and social model of disability perspective. She briefly outlines the preceding models of disability and contrasts these with the social model inherent in the Convention. She then enters a philosophical discussion referencing the Convention and its underlying principles and assumptions, leads on to universality, and then ‘reasonable accommodation’.  

“Taking into consideration all of the foregoing, it could be asserted that accessibility is the ideal situation, universal design would be a previous general strategy to achieve that ideal situation, and reasonable accommodation would be a particular strategy to be put in place when the universal design preventive purposes do not ensure accessibility.”

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The World Health Organization has a page on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 

It sets out the obligations of signatories to the Convention. Australia is a signatory to this Convention.  Each of the obligations are detailed in separate sections called Articles. There are 50 Articles.  The General Principles of the Convention align with the Principles of Universal Design.

Article 3 – General principles

The principles of the present Convention shall be:

  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
  2. Non-discrimination;
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  5. Equality of opportunity;
  6. Accessibility;
  7. Equality between men and women;
  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Inclusion, Human Rights and the Market

Graphic with four circles: one each for exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion.How can we attain our rights within a market-based economy, when those who do not experience social and economic exclusion have the the power of the market in their hands? From this comes the notion that “you can have your human rights if you can pay for them”. So it seems we have to be pragmatic about human rights in a market-based economy. That in turn means rights get enacted only after a cost-benefit analysis has been carried out and “the excluded” are assessed as being “affordable”. To gain rights, “the excluded” need to bring a benefit to the negotiating table. For more on this discussion, see Jane Bringolf’s speech notes from the 2014 Brisbane Housing Forum. It includes an explanation of Mutual Advantage Theory by Lawrence Becker. In Western societies, justice and fairness are not inalienable rights, but a negotiated process based on mutual advantage.

Speech notes PDF document Housing Forum Brisbane 2014  

Speech notes Word document Housing Forum Brisbane 2014  

Getting in the door: the public interest in the design of private housing

Margaret Ward presented the inaugural Robert Jones Memorial Oration in Brisbane in 2014.  She recounts the life of Robert Jones and his dream to make public spaces and places accessible to everyone.  Margaret challenges popular assumptions about how accessible housing will be achieved using the evidence from her PhD study on the private housing market.

Download the pdf version: Margaret Ward Robert Jones Memorial Lecture 2014,

Download the Word version: Margaret Ward Robert Jones Memorial Lecture 2014