A social ramp example

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The picture on the entry page of this website shows a church in China that I have had the privilege to visit. As you approach the building, there is a broad, tiled area between the front and the street. The first thing you notice could be the majestic steeples, but more likely it is the huge lettering. The letters say, “God loves people” which is in itself very inviting. But the fact that those words are written beautifully on ramps providing access increases the invitation. As you look at the church you also see that the ramps are a central feature of the face of the building: the face of the church to the community. From a semiotics perspective, this clearly communicates so many things.

The church is communicating. They are saying we want people with disabilities here, your presence is central to who we are, we want the community to know that God loves people particularly those with disabilities, disability is associated with beauty, among other messages. This physical structure is a social ramp because of these types of things which are being communicated. This message should translate into social interactions as well. It may not perfectly, but the groundwork has been laid.

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