The Geographical Perspective of Accessibility Issues: A New Curriculum for Well-Being

Authors: Naomi Jeffery Petersen*, Central Washington University
Topics: Disabilities, Geographic Thought, Geography Education
Keywords: geography education, accessibility, universal design, disability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Given how common disability is and how likely all people are to experience some change in their ability levels of all types (physical, cognitive, emotional), when and where can accessibility concepts be introduced to increase awareness issues most people are likely to experience? Identifying where awareness can be deliberately introduced in the school curriculum may help target strategies to increase acceptance and even advocacy for vulnerable populations. Concepts such as spatial awareness, navigation, spatial relations, patterns of traffic movement, interaction at different scales, and the dynamic motion of people within a place are all core components of accessibility for vulnerable populations. Presented here is an ambitious project to articulate and integrate emerging strands of the profession which are addressing public health aspects of regional function and identity. This is a radical approach to defining accessibility within the field of geography which heretofore has considered a) accessibility of the profession to geographers who have disabilities, e.g. ADA compliance and equitable working conditions, and b) accessibility of regional terrain to all people, e.g. studies of transportation and economic impact. This study will challenge the professional field of geographers to consider accessibility in terms of the universal condition of vulnerable populations and the importance of education to reduce barriers they face, and the value of geographic perspectives to achieve greater awareness and acceptance of ability differences as part of our cultural identities.

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