Geography concepts embedded within Accessibiltiy

Authors: Gina Bloodworth*, Salisbury University, Naomi Jeffrey Petersen, Central Washington University
Topics: Geography Education, Behavioral Geography, Disabilities
Keywords: accessibility, universal design, geography education, behavioral geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geography as a discipline has been behind the curve in its engagement with the evolving discipline of Accessibility. And yet, many fundamental geographic concepts are embedded within this new hybrid academic discipline. This paper explores the conceptual overlap in the two disciplines, specifically related to the concepts of spatial intuition, navigation, design of public space, transportation accessibility, network analysis and cartographic legibility. We in geography need to engage with applications of Accessibility and Universal Design both academically and within the vital applications that inform public policy, urban design, education and governmental regulation. Our European counterparts have already integrated many elements of Accessibility and Universal Design into public planning of space, architecture, education, transportation and communication. A comparative look at where the U.S. stands on these fronts in relation to the EU nations reveals that we in Geography are missing a key opportunity to shape the emerging conversation within the U.S. Within the U.S. today, our primary engagement in any of these new conversations has been limited to disability studies, and access in the simplest meaning [legal or physical] as it relates to compliance with the ADA legislation. We need to broaden our participation and engagement with both Accessibility Studies and Universal Design NOW, while the disciplines are still young and the conversation is still evolving on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. While there are many avenues and tiers within which to engage in the Accessibility conversation, the first place to begin is in Geographic Education.

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