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Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design

New York Univ. Jan. 2019. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781479894093. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781479807222. ARCH
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OrangeReviewStarWilliamson (design history, Sch. of the Art Inst. of Chicago) tells the story of the growth of accessibility design in America since World War II, from the design of artificial limbs, gadgets, and doorknobs to the fully legal architectural accessibility of public buildings outlined in the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The author's emphasis lies in social and political concerns rather than aesthetic and technological matters. Disability has grown enormously with warfare, from World War II through the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, and has been augmented tremendously by the physical sustainability of our aging and increasing senior citizens population. Williamson keenly emphasizes that the United States has led the world globally toward physical access and accessibility as acceptable and admirable natural and civil rights rather than annoying physical encumbrances that stand in the way. The black-and-white illustrations are small, but the bibliography and footnotes are excellent.
VERDICT All public library systems should purchase this book, because reading it can change lives.—Peter S. Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.,MA

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