The Concept of ''Disability'' in Architecture as a Power and Ideology Problem

Selma Saltoğlu, Aysun Aydın Öksüz

Abstract


The concept of disability, which is well accepted around the world and seem to be a statement of positive discrimination at first, requires to become a current issue as an equality problem in architecture and society today. In fact, the definition of disability and its intellectual basis are major and still invisibile obstacles to obtain equal rights for everyone regarding architectural accessibility and participation in social life.

In this study, the intellectual basis of the concept of disability in social understanding has been explored to identify the main problem. It has been realised that this understanding, which is to be seen also in architectural practices, has occured as an issue of power and ideology. On one hand, the society itself generates the definitions, classifies people and creates hegemony based on consent, and on the other hand speaks up for resolving the problems caused by this classifications with a total inactivity. Strong ideologies, which ignore the problems of existing definitions, forms absolute truths and minds unable to question. Therefore, the definition of “disabled” becomes approved by the entire society, although it does not include inseperable parts of society such as children, patients or elderly. These ideologies result in a communal power created by free will insted of enforcement. In this manner, even individuals classified as “disabled” accept the legitimacy of this authority. However, existing of such an accepted definiton causes otherizing and ignorance in society. It also affects architectural perception and plays a significant role in creating isolation projects such as “disabled-friendly houses” or “libraries for disabled”. These projects show that people defined as “disabled” are the dark subconsciousness of society willing to be forgotten.

When it is realised that the unity of differences creates the society, the classification will be forgotten, environments and mentallities will be shaped accordingly and designs will be created for everyone instead of designing for disabled. Bringing an accurate and fair point of view into existence, which is based on the mentioned facts, is the only way to solve the current problems in architectural practices and social inequalities.


Keywords


Power, Ideology, Disability, Accessibility, Otherizing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15320/ICONARP.2016120234

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