World Blind Union (WBU) and City Space Architecture declared our action to develop and publish a special issue of The Journal of Public Space with a specific focus on universally accessible public spaces. To date we have collaborated around different knowledge-sharing webinars around public space in 2020 and are taking steps to prepare a concept note for the production and publication process before releasing a call for contributions directed towards academia, city professionals, urban planners, civil society, including organisations of persons with disabilities, and multilateral organisations. The expected publication is planned to April-June 2022, in an open access format.
Outcomes and Expected Impact
Expected outcome is the publication of the journal issue focusing on universally accessible and inclusive public spaces. It seeks to raise awareness and foster learning around universal design when it comes to public spaces, and what inclusion of diverse groups would mean in urban practice. The primary weight is intended to be on persons with disabilities in their diversity and accessibility as this is often overlooked in discussions on urban practices. A broad audience and range of stakeholders will however be engaged since universally accessible public spaces are relevant for all social groups, along urban practitioners, and policymakers.
Sustainability and Scalability
The declared action is intended to be completed before the World Urban Forum 11 where the final publication will be showcased and debated. The action seeks to raise awareness around what inclusive and accessible public spaces mean in practice, with a specific focus on persons with disabilities and their diverse access requirements for equal participation in urban life. The declared action may inspire more research into the inclusion of persons with disabilities along other traditionally marginalised groups in urban communities, planning, designing and governance.
Innovative and Cultural Aspects
This is the first time City Space Architecture enters a partnership with a global organisation of persons with disabilities to co-create a special issue of their The Journal of Public Space. The process will invite a broad range of stakeholders from multiple countries, including academia, to submit articles and viewpoints intended to capture good practices, opinions, and applied research around accessibility, universal design, and inclusion when it comes to public spaces. The Journal is also intended to take a cultural lens on how public spaces for all are approach and designed in diverse contexts.
In the preparatory process, WBU and City Space Architecture agreed on the necessity to clearly define the concept of ‘inclusion’, referring to the current literature, also in regard of misunderstandings and lack of efficacy in the application of the concept in the drafting of policies and in the design of urban spaces.
The declared action specifically focuses on accessible public spaces for persons with diverse disabilities, but also older persons, and other traditionally marginalised groups when it comes to the designing and accessibility to and of public spaces. The action will elaborate on what accessible public spaces means while giving opportunities for groups to raise their voices on what inclusion in the urban setting means to them as experts in their own right.