Bryan McKinney and I have just published an article in the latest issue of the Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability (click on the words "Social Ramps" above to see it). The article looks at applying the principles of universal design to social environments. Using the idea of a ramp, something most people are familiar with as a way that folks who use wheelchairs can access physical enviornments, we wonder about how "social ramps" might be created to facilitate access to social enviornments. We make the point that confronted by steps, someone who uses a wheelchair is denied access. The society has determined that this is something that they want to correct, so ramps are designed and built allowing access to those who have been denied access in the past. The physical environment was created in one way and overtime has been reconstructed in a different way. You might say that we have changed our physical enviornment traditions such that access is easier.
Well, how might we change our social enviornment such that access might be easier? Are social skill traditions, cultural traditions immutable or might they be changed? How might we approach softening the social enviornment, changing traditons deliberately such that those who have been excluded for social skill deficits or misunderstandings might be provided access. Yes, some people can learn to change, but many others cannot change due to their disabilities, etc. If the social environment CAN change such that these folks could be included it might be encouraged to do so. Our social enviornments would then be different than they currently are. More loving more accepting, etc.
Well, please check our our article and think through the issues presented.