Disability Justice and Urban Planning

Disability Justice and Urban Planning is a collection of articles focusing on people with disability and the built environment. Lisa Stafford and Leonor Vanik remind us it is 60 years since the first campaigns for justice began. In their introduction to the articles they argue that despite legislation we still live in an ableist world. People with disability continue to be excluded and subjugated.

In urban planning and design, these prejudices are played out in the built and digital form. … disabled people are constantly reminded that “you don’t belong – the world is not built for you”. Dignity and control are still not realised.

A woman is pushing a man in a wheelchair up a ramp into the train. The train guard looks on. Another woman in a wheelchair waits for her turn. A man with a stroller is also in the picture.

Basic things like using public transport to attend an appointment are taken for granted by many. However, this same activity for disabled people can require exhaustive planning to account for things that might go wrong. Many trips are not make because it’s just too hard.

Then there is the complexity of other social dimensions. Indigenous disabled people, disabled people of colour, queer disabled people and disabled women and girls. However, there is a growing resistance to oppression and exclusion.

The collection of articles brings into view a large and diverse group of people who have been unseen for so long. The aim is to open up conversations about body and mind diversity. The authors are people with disability and so the content is written with heart – it’s not just another academic exercise.

It’s time for planners and designers to not just listen but to act. It could be their future self they are planning and designing for.

Aerial view of a city with tall buildings separated by green open space.

The title of this collection of short articles is, Disability Justice and Urban Planning and is open access. Published in Planning Theory & Practice.

The authors use the language of “disabled people” in line with critical models of disability.

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