Most of us would agree with Francis Bacon’s oft-repeated sentiment: “knowledge is power.” But to the physically disabled, knowledge is more appropriately identified with empowerment. That is a fine distinction but one that has profound implications. The former implies control over others; the latter conveys control over ones own life. Ramps, curb cuts, accessible entrances and bathrooms, public transportation, Braille signs, and crosswalks for the hearing impaired are all significant strides toward inclusion mandated by those in power. They make mobility possible for those with diverse physical disabilities. They do not necessarily empower; for that to occur a person must have knowledge of the enabling adaptation. Will there be curb cuts along my path? Will the building’s entrance be accessible? Which bathrooms are accessible? Will the elevator be in service? Questions like these are addressed daily by those with disabilities who endeavor to go about their day unencumbered with the matter-of-fact attitude of the physically abled.
At the University of Tennessee we are proposing a suite of integrated information systems that would provide a variety of archival resources as well as real-time information for the disabled in need of navigation assistance. This system would leverage existing technology, such as Google maps, GPS navigation, Twitter and other internet resources to develop site-specific, real-time resources that address a variety of mobility issues.
|Keywords:||Accessibility, Disability, Inclusion, Mobility, Technology|
Associate Professor, School of Art, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Professor, School of Art, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
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