Disability and the Built Environment – Call for Guest Editors

Built Environment Editors
04 Nov 2016

Different people have different aptitudes and abilities, and the way the built environment is designed can perpetuate or exacerbate those differences – or can help to reconcile them. In other words, the built environment, as a deliberate human construct, has a positive role to play, not just avoiding exacerbating the challenges of those with impairment, but wherever possible, acting as an enabler, and promoter of equality, accessibility and environmental justice.

This is not simply to do with the provision of physical infrastructure to cater for the diverse needs of the population – but also relates to the social and political context for provision for all. For example, the social model of disability regards the state of disability as being “caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference.” As such, designers of the built environment have a role in ensuring that their designs are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.

There is a diverse range of issues at stake. Maria Miller, Committee Chair for the ongoing UK inquiry into disability and the built environment has commented:

“[T]here is a great deal of scope for innovation. For example: how can building information modelling and modern methods of construction, contribute to making environments more accessible and inclusive? How can we deliver greater accessibility and inclusivity alongside more age-friendly towns and cities, including liaison with the NHS? To what extent do shared space schemes in roads and highways cause barriers for disabled people and how can these be resolved? We need to ensure that buildings and public spaces are as accessible and inclusive as possible, and that communities can fully engage with the process of decision making that shapes the accessibility of the built environment."

Clearly, this agenda encompasses not only physical design, modelling and construction, but also implies the need for considering different types of (dis)ability, and decision-making and hence inclusive democracy.

Built Environment now invites proposals for a guest editor(s) to guest edit a themed issue of the journal on ‘The Enabling Built Environment’ (or related title), to distil critical lessons from international academic research and practice for the built environment audience.

Prospective guest editors are invited to propose a specific thematic focus, for example:

  • Disability and the Built Environment;
  • Accessibility in the Built Environment;
  • Urban Equity and Environmental Justice;
  • Inclusive Design for a Diverse Population.

The issue is expected to address one or more aspects of disability, accessibility, equity and environmental justice in relation to the design and planning of the built environment, such as architecture, infrastructure, urban design, streetscape, public open spaces; addressing not only physical provision but social and decision-making aspects. The issue should lead the way for an international readership of built environment academics and practitioners.

Full details of the call and how to submit a proposal - click here to download.


As ever we welcome further Built Environment blogs & tweets on this theme!