Jan./Feb., 1999
blank space Logo design reading 'Electric Edge: Online Edition of Ragged Edge magazine'

Universal design seen as 'boring'

Thank you for your article on universal design ("Universal Design: Still fighting for respect?" Nov./Dec.) I can agree with those in the article who said that it was hard to get professors to take the concept seriously. I am not yet in a wheelchair but I expect I will be some day (I have a progressive disability). I took a number of architecture classes and the concept of access was barely mentioned--however, much attention was given to more "esoteric" concepts and famous architects like I.M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright and a lot of talk about the human spirit and what design "means." It seems to me that people see access--or universal design, as we should rightly call it--as boring because it is, you know, "for the handicapped."

In the one class in which we did devote some time to the topic it was presented as a kind of "have to"--like plumbing codes. Very little interest. I am very glad to see that there is a group of people who believe as I do.

People are getting older and we will all need this design one day. I wish architects would wake up!

Joseph P. Lomax

P.S. I found your website while doing research. I didn't know about your magazine before. I am definitely going to subscribe!

Ron Mace was a visionary

The late Ron Mace was a visionary. There is no other word for him. ("Sailing into the wind," Nov./Dec.) I still remember hearing him speak nearly two decades ago. It was the only time I met the man. But I still remember how he talked about his frustrations with his fellow architects and the profession; I remember his story (not the details) of one of his first jobs, in which, as I recall, he wanted to make a church accessible. His bosses at the architectural firm were opposed, but when Mace was finally allowed to present his ideas to the client, they loved them! Fortunately for us--and unfortunately for his dull bosses--he left that firm determined, I think, to chart his own course.

I greatly admired the man and I have tried to follow what he did in his career. Occasionally I'd read about him and his work in a disability publication such as yours or sometimes in a newspaper. It is a shame that his ideas have not been given the credit they deserve. He ranks among the greatest architects of our time.

Berris Long
Columbus, Ohio

Book reviews appreciated

It is great to find a disability magazine that regularly publishes reviews of books important to the disabilities movement. I believe you are the only one of the major disability magazines to publish book reviews.

I especially liked your last review, in which you reported on a number of books ("Way Beyond Klara and Tiny Tim," Nov./Dec.). This can give those of us interested in disability culture a good way to plan our reading.

Warren Campbell
New York

Media meeting long overdue

Thank you for sponsoring your meeting next May on "what we say . . . what they hear." It is long, long overdue.

I have long wondered--in amazement, a lot of the time, truth be told--why our "leadership" is so silent in the national press. I used to think that it was because the media didn't know they existed. Now I am not so sure. I think that many national groups simply do not spend any energy on dealing with the national media on news issues. I think they focus instead on things like PR campaigns--but they don't like to serve as regular sources for reporters. That's my take on it, anyway.

We could come together in May and come up with an action plan similar to the plan that got the ADA through Congress. But this will depend largely on those who attend.

I fear that the people and organizations who should most attend this meeting--the big national disability groups and the "inside the beltway" coalitions--won't see this as important.

Oh well, their loss. While they are fiddling around with quot;policy workquot; that never gets any national coverage, maybe the grassroots can push the movement onto the national agenda. Just like we did with lifts on buses and attendant services.

Name withheld by request

Editor's note: For more on our meedia meeting this coming May

What can I do--short of pro se?

I'm a new subscriber to your wonderful magazine. Living in a small town in Oregon, I have limited access to other crips. How wonderful it is to know that I'm not alone!

I'm attending classes at a local community college, and frustrated because their idea of accessibility isn't great. Most of the restrooms are difficult to use. While one stall in these facilities is bigger, the layout of the room itself is terrible. I find myself trying to cram my wheelchair into a short but wide stall, close and lock the door, and then having to back out. There is little clearance to do so. Furthermore, the waste cans and other disposal units are continually in the way.

The one bathroom that is easy to use is usually out of my way. I find it difficult to travel across campus just to answer nature's call. Also, the elevator is the size of a coffin--my chair barely fits. Is there anything that I can do without filing a pro se lawsuit?

The world would be a much more beautiful place if politicians, architects, doctors and school counselors were required to spend six months to a year in a chair. Give them a real-world, real-crip education.

Charmaine Goodman

Postage stamp as awareness tool

Ken Stein's postage stamp article was interesting ("Forward and Backward," July/August). But he missed one: this 1992-issue stamp on a pre-paid envelope has a female wheelchair user and the words, "For a stronger America, count us in" and "43 million people with disabilities." Our arts organization uses this a lot; we change the "43" to "54" and add a 3-cent stamp. We use it a lot as an awareness tool.

Cass Irvin, Director
Access to the Arts, Inc.
Louisville, KY

Dodging the eugenics B.S.

I feel very badly for disabled people who are being made to feel less worthy to live by the current eugenics movement ("Bad Baby Blues" (July/August). I wonder which eugenic standards will become legally enforced in the future? I'm 39, and have had 3 babies in the last 4 years, (making up for lost time). I have found that the easiest way to dodge the eugenics B.S. is to refuse the alpha feto-protein test and just resolve to keep the baby that comes out. When tests become more accurate and fetal surgery and treatment are more common and less experimental, I may adjust my medical opinion. However, for me abortion is not an acceptable option.

Karen L. Brauer

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