Understanding disability and the importance of design for all


  • Colin Barnes




Access, disablement, equality, policy, universal design


This paper will address recent debates surrounding the nature and cause of the complex process of disablement and their relevance to understanding calls for a universally accessible physical and cultural environment. It is divided into three main sections. The first part will explore changing perceptions of disability. Attention will centre on the traditional individualistic medical approach, the socio-political understanding or ‘social model of disability’ and the recent ‘biopsychosocial’ model of disability exemplified by the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. This will be followed by a discussion of the usefulness of the concept of ‘universal design’. The final section will discuss the significance of these developments in light of globalisation, associate economic, political and social crises, and the struggle for a fairer and just global society.




How to Cite

Barnes, C. (2011). Understanding disability and the importance of design for all. Journal of Accessibility and Design for All, 1(1), 55–80. https://doi.org/10.17411/jacces.v1i1.81