The State of the Science in Universal Design: Emerging Research and Developments

Indexed in: Scopus, EBSCO.

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD), a federally funded research center located in The University at Buffalo, hosted a series of ...
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Accessibility in Urban Areas for Citizens with Impairments: Using GIS to Map and Measure Accessibility in Swedish Cities

Pp. 122-131 (10)

Johan Svensson


Since, the design of our cities tends to constrain people with impairment from performing their daily activities, removing barriers and making public space accessible for everyone is becoming a human rights-issue. However, efficiently improving accessibility requires knowledge about the location of obstacles in the urban environment and how these affect accessibility. Using GIS-models to map and measure accessibility, this study aims at providing new knowledge about the spatial distribution of accessibility for impaired persons in seven Swedish cities. Based on field surveys, detailed digital models of the pedestrian and public transport networks were created for each city. These models were used to evaluate the possibility for vision and mobility impaired citizens to reach different destinations. The results reveal how different types of flaws in the pedestrian network cause interruptions or force travellers to detours in the travel chain between home and destination, thus restricting accessibility. The results show where it is possible to live and independently perform daily activities as an impaired citizen and how travelling times and distances vary between impaired and other citizens. In conclusion, the study shows how planners, by using GIS-models, can easily enhance their knowledge about how flaws in the design of their cities affect accessibility for impaired citizens.


Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden.