The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning

The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning

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By Tanya Titchkosky
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011
World Rights
192 Pages
ISBN 9781442610002
Published Sep 2011
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ISBN 9781442640269
Published Sep 2011
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Values such as ‘access’ and ‘inclusion’ are unquestioned in the contemporary educational landscape. But many methods of addressing these issues — installing signs, ramps, and accessible washrooms — frame disability only as a problem to be ‘fixed.’ The Question of Access investigates the social meanings of access in contemporary university life from the perspective of Cultural Disability Studies.

Through narratives of struggle and analyses of policy and everyday practices, Tanya Titchkosky shows how interpretations of access reproduce conceptions of who belongs, where and when. Titchkosky examines how the bureaucratization of access issues has affected understandings of our lives together in social space. Representing ‘access’ as a beginning point for how disability can be rethought, rather than as a mere synonym for justice, The Question of Access allows readers to critically question their own implicit conceptions of disability, non-disability, and access.

Tanya Titchkosky is an associate professor and an associate department chair at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.



1 Introduction: Accessas an Act of Perception

2 ‘Who?’: DisabilityIdentity and the Question of Belonging

3 ‘What?’: RepresentingDisability

4 ‘Where?’: To Pee or Not to Pee

5 ‘When? Not Yet’: TheAbsent Presence of Disability in Contemporary University Life

6 Towards a Politics of Wonder inDisability Studies




‘In this brilliant and accessible book, Tanya Titchkosky deploys a “politics of wonder” to explore the more “intimate” experience of disability that is often missing unless it is pointed out.  Titchkosky’s questions offer a nuanced and yet very hard-hitting phenomenological analysis of embodiment in higher educational institutions. This transforms the discussion of “access” as a bureaucratic procedural legality into a wonderful concept that relies on the intimacy of narrative, metaphor, and embodiment to foreground a politics of transformation. I suggest that this text be required reading in courses in higher education administration as well as all sociology courses.’

Nirmala Erevelles, Department of Educational Leadership, Technology, and Policy Studies, The University of Alabama

‘The Question of Access provides a very critical deconstruction of disability, disability studies, and even what it means to be dis/abled… This is a brilliant text that asks the readers to rethink their own critical understandings of accesses, even in the supposedly diverse and understanding settings of academia.’

Allison Hitt, The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies vol 01:01:2012

‘Through narratives of struggle and analyses of policy and everyday practice, The Question of Access presents a thoughtful, important perspective. The book is a much needed resource with which to generate further discussion and positive change in and outside of the academy.’

Nancy Hansen, CAUT Bulletin, vol 59:03:2012

The Question of Access is exemplary both in its development of useful concepts for Disability Studies and as a methodological demonstration of how storytelling, perception, and rationality produce new ways of understanding disability.’

Aimi Haliraie, Disability Studies Quarterly vol 33:01:2013

‘Tanya Titchkosky offers a thoughtful discussion of disability related issues…This book is relevant to diverse audiences, scholars, policy makers, students, and anyone interested in examining socio-political constitutions of disabled subjects and issues of access.’

Mark Castrodale, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, vol 3:01:2014