The International Symbol of Access: A Design for Social Good

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Student Union Building 62-63

Elizabeth Guffey
Professor of Art & Design History
SUNY Purchase

Professor Elizabeth Guffey will discuss research from her forthcoming book: Designing Disability: Symbols, Spaces and Society (Bloomsburry, 2017). Designing Disability traces the emergence of an idea and an ideal - physical access for the disabled—through the evolution of the iconic International Symbol of Access (ISA). The book draws on approaches from design history, material culture and recent critical disability studies to examine not only the development of a design icon, but also the cultural history surrounding it. Infirmity and illness may be seen as part of human experience, but 'disability' is a social construct, a way of thinking about and constructing responses to human conditions.

Professor Elizabeth Guffey is the Director of MA in Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism and Theory at SUNY Purchase. Her area of specialization is nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first- century art and design history; her most recent book, Posters: A Global History (Reaktion, 2014) reexamines the poster’s roots in the nineteenth century and explores the relevance they still possess in the age of digital media. She also is the author of Retro: The Culture of Revival (Reaktion, 2006). Professor Guffey is the author of numerous articles on design and is the founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal Design and Culture published by Bloomsbury.