Accessible Places and Spaces

Related in part to the population living longer and/or with injuries sustained during military service, living with a disability is becoming more common in the United States (US). In addition, having a disability is positively correlated with lower income when compared with the general population in the US. This means that in addition to having functional needs related to disability, these populations often have financial concerns impacting affordability overall.
Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in the US in 1990, public facilities have been required by law to meet ADA standards. The ADA has encouraged private facilities to adapt to ADA standards, but the private sector has been slower to make improvements. Many people with disabilities experience discrimination in the United States daily when entering restaurants, stores, and other private facilities. It can be difficult to fully comprehend how difficult daily life can be unless one has a disability personally or regularly accompanies a friend or loved one. Transportation remains a challenge, as public transport may not go to all needed destinations for work, errands, recreation, or other places. Sidewalk conditions in US cities vary from nonexistent to well maintained. When nonexistent or poorly maintained, they further limit independent movement or increase the likelihood of injury.

New construction of homes in the US have limited ADA units, even as the percentage of older adults in the population increases. Some success has been made of visitability standards requiring that people with disabilities are able to visit without difficulty. Many applaud these standards as a reflection of universal design, since these standards make it easier for everyone – parents with strollers, people unloading heavy packages and groceries, people with a temporary injury, and others to simply move about more easily.

ComplexCities is in the process of establishing a professional network and pinpointing resources to share for this project.  If you are interested, please contact us.