The International Symbol of Access (ISA) produces, capacitates, and debilitates disability in particular ways and is grounded by a happy affective economy that is embedded within neoliberal capitalism. This production of disability runs counter to the dismantling of ableism and compulsory able-bodiedness. In charting the development of the modern wheelchair, the rise of disability rights in North America, and the emergence of the ISA as a universally acceptable representation of access for disabled people, I argue that this production of disability serves a capacitating function for particular forms of impairment. These capacitated forms are celebrated through a neoliberal economy of inclusion. I conclude by critically approaching the happy affects of the ISA, including the way in which the symbol creates a sense of cruel optimism for disabled people.
Fritsch, K. (2013). The Neoliberal Circulation of Affects: Happiness, accessibility and the capacitation of disability as wheelchair. Health, Culture and Society, 5(1), 135–149. https://doi.org/10.5195/hcs.2013.136