Disability Issues and Planning Education: Findings from a Longitudinal Survey of Planning Programs and Lessons for Urban e-Planning

Disability Issues and Planning Education: Findings from a Longitudinal Survey of Planning Programs and Lessons for Urban e-Planning

Nathan W. Moon (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA), Paul M.A. Baker (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA), Robert G.B. Roy (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA) and Ariyana Bozzorg (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/ijepr.2014070103
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Abstract

In the United States, planning education is frequently concerned with problems and solutions associated with the physical environment rather than socioeconomic barriers and solutions, including issues of workforce/workplace, community inclusion and participation, and e-democracy. Legislation such as the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, generally place more emphasis on accessibility in the physical landscape than on social and economic barriers faced by people with disabilities. Through a longitudinal survey of selected university planning programs in the United States (in 2005 and again in 2013), this article discusses how the lack of attention to disability issues in planning literature may be linked to the education of planners and planning curricula. It also suggests possible areas of progress as an emerging group of planners have become concerned with the role of technologies such as telecommuting in facilitating the inclusion of people with disabilities into the social environment.
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Background Discussion

In order to understand the influence of planning education on disability access, it is first necessary to acknowledge the ways in which the organization of space and the built environment may exclude and, at worst, repress certain social groups. Examining the situation in the UK, Oliver (1996) contended that people with disabilities faced exclusion and marginalization in the workplace, as well as segregation in schooling and limited access to housing and public transportation. Imrie (1996) went even further to charge with planning profession with being implicit in the creation of these inequities, noting that exclusionary environments frequently are the product of interactions between policymakers, regulations, and architectural and planning practitioners. He went further to suggest that current urban planning was predicated on a “design apartheid” in which the dominant values of abled-bodied people acted to exclude people with disabilities. In assessing such arguments—most of them based on theoretical rather than empirical research—Kitchin (1998) concluded the need for appreciating how space and the built environment are “socio-spatially constructed.” Regardless of one’s school of thought, he contended, there was sufficient evidence for “spatialities of disability” that reinforced ablist/disablist practices within urban planning and policymaking.

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