Thursday, Apr 11, 2024

CANCELED: Spring 2024 Sciame Lecture Series: Aimi Hamraie

Critical Access Studies


Thursday, Apr 11, 2024

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Sciame Auditorium (Room 107)
141 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Rr1 6331 Small

Please note this lecture has been canceled. 

Aimi Hamraie (they/them) is Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and director of the Critical Design Lab. Hamraie’s research contributes critical perspectives on accessibility, disability, and technology. Hamraie is author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and host of the Contra* podcast on disability and design. They are a member of the U.S. Access Board and were a 2022 United States Artists Fellow.

"Critical Access Studies": What is “access?” For some, it is a synonym for legal compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). For others, it is a form of belonging, the ability of an individual to participate in a space or find employment. And for others, access is a form of critique, the basis of radical projects of collective access-making. There are often tensions between the meanings of access in disability rights (legal) frameworks and disability justice (social movement) discourses. This talk traces the genealogy of access from legal compliance and liberal belonging to the frictions of architectural and cultural critique, noting the ways that emerging critical frameworks within disability studies are challenging earlier established wisdom about accessibility. Drawing on critical design, crip-of-color critique, and anti-imperialist approaches to the question of access, the talk reveals emergent, sticky, and often-frictioned material and philosophical approaches to access that emerge from disability culture and community.

Suggested Reading: “Introduction: Critical Access Studies,” Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability.

"Access and Beyond: Architecture and Disability" answers the call for disability justice in our time. Architects, designers, and scholars, inspired by critical disability studies, make up the distinguished roster of speakers who situate disability, ability, and access in pointed, specific critiques of design, culture, and power. This series invites practitioners to probe assumptions embedded in universal design, to center belonging in design practice, to critique technology in relation to inclusion, and to apprehend the rich contribution of difference in the sensorial experiences of places.

All lectures are free, open to the public, and held in the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture Sciame Auditorium. Live captioning and ASL interpretation will be available upon request. For access requests or questions, please contact

See for current requirements for in-person visitors.

This lecture series is made possible by the Spitzer Architecture Fund and the generous support of Frank Sciame ’74, CEO of Sciame Construction.

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