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      Accessing the Neighbourhood: Built Environment Performance for People with Disability

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          In the face of rapid urbanisation, increasing diversity of the human condition, ageing populations, failing infrastructure, and mounting evidence that the built environment affects health and well-being, the existing built environment still fails to meet the needs of people with disability. Nevertheless, in something of a parallel universe, improving built environment ‘sustainability’ performance, via measurement, receives much contemporary attention, and analysing the built environment at micro-scale (buildings), meso-scale (neighbourhood) and macro-scale (city-wide) is undertaken from various multidisciplinary perspectives. But, although built environment performance is already measured in many ways, and community inclusion is considered essential for health and well-being, accessibility performance for people with disability, at neighbourhood scale, is rarely considered. The institutional and medical models of disability help explain the inaccessibility of the existing built environment. On the other hand, the social and human rights models of disability offer insight into improving the accessibility of the existing built environment for people with disability. However, ‘disability’ and ‘built environment’ tend not to mix. People with disability continue to experience lack of meaningful involvement in research, participation in decision-making, partnership equality, and direct influence over policy, with the built environment arena increasingly becoming a private-sector activity. The actors involved, however, have little understanding of either the accessibility needs of people with disability, or the inaccessibility, particularly at neighbourhood scale, of the existing built environment. It is in this context that this paper explores the design, planning and politics of an inaccessible built environment, concluding that assessing the built environment accessibility performance for people with disability, at neighbourhood scale, is an essential component in the process of built environment accessibility improvement. Requiring collaboration between the built environment and disability knowledge domains, a new tool measuring neighbourhood accessibility, the Universal Mobility Index (UMI), has emerged and is undergoing further development.

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          Measuring the built environment for physical activity: state of the science.

          Physical inactivity is one of the most important public health issues in the U.S. and internationally. Increasingly, links are being identified between various elements of the physical-or built-environment and physical activity. To understand the impact of the built environment on physical activity, the development of high-quality measures is essential. Three categories of built environment data are being used: (1) perceived measures obtained by telephone interview or self-administered questionnaires; (2) observational measures obtained using systematic observational methods (audits); and (3) archival data sets that are often layered and analyzed with GIS. This review provides a critical assessment of these three types of built-environment measures relevant to the study of physical activity. Among perceived measures, 19 questionnaires were reviewed, ranging in length from 7 to 68 questions. Twenty audit tools were reviewed that cover community environments (i.e., neighborhoods, cities), parks, and trails. For GIS-derived measures, more than 50 studies were reviewed. A large degree of variability was found in the operationalization of common GIS measures, which include population density, land-use mix, access to recreational facilities, and street pattern. This first comprehensive examination of built-environment measures demonstrates considerable progress over the past decade, showing diverse environmental variables available that use multiple modes of assessment. Most can be considered first-generation measures, so further development is needed. In particular, further research is needed to improve the technical quality of measures, understand the relevance to various population groups, and understand the utility of measures for science and public health.
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            Life cycle assessment: past, present, and future.

            Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) has developed fast over the last three decades. Whereas LCA developed from merely energy analysis to a comprehensive environmental burden analysis in the 1970s, full-fledged life cycle impact assessment and life cycle costing models were introduced in the 1980s and 1990 s, and social-LCA and particularly consequential LCA gained ground in the first decade of the 21st century. Many of the more recent developments were initiated to broaden traditional environmental LCA to a more comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis (LCSA). Recently, a framework for LCSA was suggested linking life cycle sustainability questions to knowledge needed for addressing them, identifying available knowledge and related models, knowledge gaps, and defining research programs to fill these gaps. LCA is evolving into LCSA, which is a transdisciplinary integration framework of models rather than a model in itself. LCSA works with a plethora of disciplinary models and guides selecting the proper ones, given a specific sustainability question. Structuring, selecting, and making the plethora of disciplinary models practically available in relation to different types of life cycle sustainability questions is the main challenge.
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              The social model of disability: thirty years on

               Mike Oliver (2013)

                Author and article information

                UCL Press
                01 December 2019
                : 16
                : 1
                [1 ]PhD candidate, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia; majarch@
                [2 ]Director, Visionary Design Development PTY LTD, Melbourne, Australia
                Author notes

                Guest Editor: Glyn Everett, University of the West of England, UK

                © 2019, The Author •

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited • DOI:

                Page count
                Pages: 24
                Custom metadata
                Jackson, M. ‘Accessing the Neighbourhood: Built Environment Performance for People with Disability.’. Architecture_MPS, 2019, 16( 1): 4, pp. 1–24. DOI:


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