Perhaps even greater than the academic contributions of my research are its practical applications. By establishing a theoretical framework for thinking through the relationship between disability, barrier-removal, media production, and coalition formation that may be exported to other cultural and temporal contexts, my research allows policymakers and public intellectuals to make informed decisions about how to build ‘truly’ accessible societies characterized by inclusion, diversity, and respect. It furnishes its readers with the tools necessary to reimagine global standards of accessibility and participate in ongoing conversations about the ways in which accommodation is (re)defined.
Such conversations are of critical importance to Japan, as the nation’s rapidly aging population will undoubtedly present challenges to its physical, cultural, educational, and bureaucratic infrastructures in the future that we cannot imagine in the present. But they are equally important to countries like Italy, Greece, and Germany, which also boast greying populations. By theorizing the (un)intended consequences of access-making projects and exploring how we might grapple with them in my dissertation, I aim to assist such countries in creating communities where no-one is excluded.
Another significant contribution of my research is its capacity to unite activists, scholars, and policymakers operating in otherwise disparate fields for productive conversations about social change. My investigation of barrier-removal projects and processes of debilitation in Japan demonstrates that we cannot truly understand the history and politics of disability without examining institutional frameworks, aggregate practices, public perceptions, and individual experiences. It suggests that no single approach – be it that of a legal historian, a gender theorist, a media specialist, or a politician – can adequately identify and resolve the hardships that persons with disabilities face each day. Rather, the only viable solution appears to involve cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations that transcend the confines of the academy. By pursuing such collaborations, we might draw one step closer to the creation of an accessible society characterized by diversity, equity, and inclusion.