A day in the life of a wheelchair user: navigating Lincoln

Distance picture of Lincoln Cathedral showing the mighty towers above the townSophia Bannert decided to hire a wheelchair and see what it was like to get out and about in the historic cathedral town of Lincoln in England. Her award winning essay relates her many experiences, not least was failing to get into an accessible toilet with the wheelchair. This essay deserves to be shared with the architectural and urban design community.

Sophia Bannert says, “In the words of Raymond Lifchez, ‘Architecture can be empowering, only if architects develop empathy.’ This quote rang true in my mind after being denied the use of the disabled toilet in the University of Lincoln’s architecture building. Whether the architect, Rick Mather, lacked empathy towards disabled users or whether he was designing according to poor minimum standards, the standing reality is that the disabled toilet was too slim to manoeuvre a wheelchair inside and close the door. In my opinion, minimum standards need to be raised to prevent faults such as this occurring.”