This comments are assignment for Developing Assistive Technology.
When we use the word normal, what do we actually mean? Lennard J. Davis states ultimately that the word normal is ‘a configuration that arises in a particular historical moment and this concept was conceived in modern times when statistics begun in early modern period. He points out the concept of average as applied to the concept of the human was used in retrospect that one of the most powerful ideas of Marx – the notion of labor value or average wages, the labor theory of value.
It was 1936, Ernst Neufert published Architect’s Data(born in Bauhaus) which took data of buildings to rationalise spatial requirements in building design. Accordingly, his ideas of standard module references for architect are also based on statistics. This standard module made industrialisation of architecture easier which made buildings as a mass produceable product. It is true that anyone who does not fit in this standard space can be called disabled as they are not able to normally live in the standard spaces.
Architect’s data has translated into 17 languages and today, in Japan, all the architects created Japanese version of it to regulate guidelines for building designing. In order to fit many other mass produced products for building, including bath tab, toilet, kitchen, tables and chairs, the standardisation of space has become common in modern society. It can be another reason why disability has become common in modern world.
From my perspectives, when technology develops sufficiently, the word disable can be changed as Lennard implies. Also, since modern men who live in cities have developed vision than other senses by absorbing air and sound pollutions, their abilities to sense environment by smells, and hearing may decrease. For instance, blind people sense space by sounds and their abilities significantly exceeds in so called ‘normal people’. The definition of disable to me is inappropriate that the so called disable people are able to hear what modern normal men cannot hear.
The value has been already changing by utilising technology. Aimee Mullins, an athlete, model, and actress lost her legs yet she enjoys to share to wear her legs which creates sci fi like experience in her real life. There are a number of different types of legs in her closet and each of them gives different feeling of walking and running experiences to her. She is even able to share this feeling with her friends who lost their legs as well. The change of their experiences are completely different from changing clothes clearly.
What we expect in our class, Developing Assistive Technology does not need to be just helping people. This can change meaning of our lives, and even construct new values to disabled people.
Design Meets Disability by Graham Pullin The MIT Press (September 30, 2011)