Burton Blatt Institute, UK University Begin Study of Inclusive Public Spaces and Accessibility of Streets

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Date: 
May 29, 2020

The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University has begun a collaboration with the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom focusing on groundbreaking research into the accessibility of public spaces and the social justice problems resulting from an exclusionary infrastructure.

The Inclusive Public Space project is a global interdisciplinary research effort that explores the social justice problems caused by city streets that limit access for some pedestrians. The project focuses specifically on pedestrians with disabilities who may have difficulties using the pedestrian paths because of the way streets are designed, managed or maintained. Poor maintenance, uneven surfaces, potholes, poor lighting and other streetscape structures also create barriers.

The project is led by principal investigator Professor Anna Lawson from the University of Leeds. Peter Blanck, University Professor and BBI chairman, and Barry Whaley, project director of the Southeast ADA Center, are involved, along with colleagues from the University of Leeds and collaborators in the Netherlands, India and Kenya.

The project has three objectives:

  • to understand, via interviews, how exclusion affects the lives of people with disabilities;
  • to understand how law influences the inclusiveness of public spaces; and
  • to raise awareness of the impact of exclusionary spaces.

“The built environment is not always an inclusive place for people with disabilities,” Whaley says. “Our hope is to learn through law, policy and practice how to improve pedestrian inclusion in the public right of way.”

To learn more about the Inclusive Public Space project, visit inclusivepublicspace.leeds.ac.uk.

About the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds, established in 1904, is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom. The origins of the university can be traced back to the Leeds School of Medicine, founded in 1831, and the Yorkshire College of Science, founded in 1874. The University of Leeds is known globally for its academic excellence and research. The university is a leader in promoting gender equality and inclusion and is a multicultural and international institution. Learn more at leeds.ac.uk.

About BBI

The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University reaches around the globe in its efforts to advance the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities. Through program development, research and public policy guidance, BBI advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities. BBI builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, a pioneering disability rights scholar. BBI has offices in Syracuse; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; New York City; and Lexington, Kentucky. Learn more at bbi.syr.edu.