Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ch1: Background

We've talked about the ways people walk or use wheelchairs and partly I have to explain a little bit better what conditions are like in Rio de Janeiro now and in the recent past, so someone who hasn't been there can get a bit of an idea where these things are taking place. But first I should say that when I talk about "background" I mean something a bit more than just the details of the city...

One example that fascinated me, although sadly I never got to visit, was that of Filipe. Many people altered things in their homes, like the height of light switches or of their bed, or of bathrooms and toilets. But Filipe went further, and redesigned his house and the way he did things.

At home, in "his place" [cantinho] he used a skateboard to get about. He sat down on it and moved himself around with his arms, in his words, "like a crab". The stuff he did at home was all on this level. He slept on a low mattress, and ate meals and used a laptop all on low tables.

It's "very convenient" for him, and everything in the room and house is as he likes it. He remodeled his corporality in the house, and the corporality of the house. He turned a skateboard from something used for fun or sport into something used in routine movements.

I find his example inspiring. Eating food seated at the table wasn't convenient, so he changed the table and chair. This means that when we think about people's difficulties of doing stuff, we should think of Filipe: could someone do something easier if we had a big redesign?

The "background" of one's home can be modifies according to financial capabilities, the right to make changes in the house and one's own imagination. The "background" of a city, and the situations in Rio de Janeiro is much harder to change.

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