On June 2, 2022, Ignacio G. Galán, assistant professor of architecture, published an article in the Journal of Design History on architecture pedagogies related to disabilities. The work, titled “Unlearning Ableism: Design Knowledge, Contested Models, and the Experience of Disability in 1970s Berkeley,” explores design pedagogies created in the 1970s and 80s by a group of experts at U.C. Berkeley and Bay Area disability activists at the school’s Center for Independent Living (CIL). At the time, the CIL offered a crucial platform for advocacy and support within the disability community.
Galán explains how the CIL used a variety of pedagogical strategies to tap into the residents’ aptitudes and ingenuity, and incorporated them as informants, consultants, and designers, instead of treating disabled individuals as bearers of special needs. By analyzing how these pedagogies opened the doors to develop flexible design interventions and questioned the naturalization of able-bodiedness, Galán advances ongoing discussions concerning the relationship between design and the environmental and social construction of disabilities.