Perception as Access: Opening Doors to Closed Spaces

Authors: Autumn James*, Northern Illinois University
Topics: Behavioral Geography, Environmental Perception, Planning Geography
Keywords: perception, public space, accessibility
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Focused on public, community engaged spaces, this research focuses on perception as a factor in the accessibility of space, or “perception as access.” Perception, as applied to this research, acts as an inclusionary or exclusionary measure, based upon the prior experiences, or beliefs, of those seeking to enter a space, or those managing the space. This is particularly important in the context of public spaces where social engagement and community interactions occur. However, as this research shows, interactions are influenced by perception, which, in effect, opens or closes spaces, and are influenced by several variables. When perception acts as a gatekeeper to the utilization of space, spaces may appear unwelcoming or inaccessible, in turn, indicating that interactions are unavailable or unattainable. These push factors could then result in the underutilization or engagement of space. Further, perception as access, or lack thereof, could affect both the physical and mental well-being of the people who may wish to engage in this space.

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