Disability and the City: International Perspectives

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People with disabilities are one of the poorest groups in Western societies. In particular, they lack power, education and opportunities. For most disabled people, their daily reality is dependence on a carer, while trying to survive on state welfare payments. The dominant societal stereotype of disability as a 'pitiful' state reinforces the view that people with disabilities are somehow 'less than human'. In taking exception to these, and related, conceptions of disability, this book explores one of the crucial contexts within which the marginal status of disabled people is experienced: the interrelationships between disability, physical access, and the built environment. The author seeks to explore some of the critical processes underpinning the social construction and production of disability as a state of marginalization and oppression in the built environment. These concerns are interwoven with a discussion of the changing role of the state in defining, categorising, and (re)producing 'states of disablement' for people with disabilities. Focusing primarily on the United Kingdom, although with a substantial discussion of disability and access issues in the USA, the book also considers the role of the 'design professionals', architects, planners, and building control officers, in the construction of specific spaces and places, which, literally, lock people with disabilities 'out'. From the shattered paving stones along the high street, to the absence of induction loops in a civic building, people with disabilities daily negotiate through hostile environments. Using a range of empirical material, the book documents how the environmental planning system in the United Kingdom is attempting to address the inaccessible nature of the built environment for people with disabilities, while discussing how disabled people are contesting the constraints placed upon their mobility. The book draws on a range of ideas from geography, sociology, and environmental planning and reflects the emergent interest in planning schools with equal opportunity issues and planning for minority groups. It will be relevant to final year geography, planning, and architecture courses and postgraduate planning courses.