Disability, Accessibility and Sustainable Urban Development
It is estimated that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities. The United Nations’ Third Global Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development – Habitat III – will take place in 2016 to review the progress, experience and lessons learnt in the past and to design a “New Urban Agenda”. This Agenda of focused policies and strategies is hoped to harness the power and forces behind urbanization. Habitat III therefore provides an important platform for the world’s urban development policy makers and practitioners, as well as those working in the field of disability to review current progress and practices and consider opportunities for change.
Importantly, the New Urban Agenda needs to ensure that future cities, towns and basic urban infrastructures and services are more environmentally accessible, user-friendly and inclusive of all people’s needs, including persons with disabilities.
Accessibility and disability inclusion in the contexts of urban development
Urban environments, infrastructures, facilities and services can impede or enable, perpetuating exclusion or fostering participation and inclusion of all members of society. Persons with disabilities face widespread lack of accessibility to built environments, from roads and housing, to public buildings and spaces, basic urban services such as sanitation and water, health, education, transportation, and emergency response programmes. Barriers to information and communications, including relevant technologies and cultural attitudes including negative stereotyping and stigma also contribute to the exclusion and marginalisation of persons with disabilities in urban environments.