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A collaboration between deaf and disabled artists and interior architecture students

What are Discursive Spaces?

Deaf artists Miles and Rubbena sitting having lunch in a Brick Lane cafe with some Interiors students

Deaf artists Miles Thomas and Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq talk with students over lunch at Brick Lane.

Making Discursive Spaces hopes to open up disability and architectural design beyond the limitations of the current language of accessibility, with its emphasis on technical solutions of platform lifts and ramps; and beyond the conventional assumptions that frame disability in ways that people with disabilities themselves do not recognise.

To do this requires finding out about the many voices and experiences of deaf and disabled people - to enable differences as well as similarities to be heard - and not to close things down as ‘design solutions’ for the disabled. This means accepting difference and complexity. It means telling many – potentially conflicting - stories. And it means admitting to what isn’t working well as well as what is.

  Next: The limits of current approaches

A note on terminology

Many Deaf people, particularly those who use BSL (British Sign Language) argue that they are a linguistic minority with their own language and culture; and therefore do not define themselves as disabled. This is why, throughout this website, the term used is deaf and disabled artists.

Medical and social models of disability

Most deaf and disabled people differentiate between a medical and social model of disability. The medical model focuses on the individual and their impairment; perceived as a problem that can be improved through medical intervention. The social model of disability argues instead that the problem is not with individuals but that it is the barriers, prejudice and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) which are the ultimate factors in defining who is disabled and who is not in a particular society.

Arts Council England University of Brighton, Interior Architecture and Design

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