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Accessibility values: disability rights movements, policy regulations & smart devices in designing urban democracy in Europe

Leitung Head Dr. Tomás S. Criado Professur für Partizipative Technikgestaltung Assistant Professorship for Participatory Technology Design Prof. Dr. phil. Ignacio Farías Hurtado + professuren/ignacio-farias

Context and aims In the past two decades ‘urban accessibility’ has become a very important matter of concern in Europe, due to: citizenship struggles of different advocacy groups of people with disabilities or older people; and growing concern on the part of the policymaking institutions at European, state, regional and municipal levels over population ageing and the everyday higher prevalence of chronic illnesses. In fact, in the whole EU, different regulatory bodies have started to promote different accessibility policies – such as building standards and specific sidewalk intervention norms – as a way to encourage social justice and equity values through the intervention of public space design. These endeavors are introducing new and very interesting socio-technical dynamics. Indeed, accessibility measures and values are creating new markets of urban infrastructures: new building standards (norms, handbooks, building procedures, etc.) and technological devices intervening in the urban space (such as in the increasingly important development of ‘smart’ urban accessibility solutions), requiring new forms of expertise so as to manage complex design and political regulations.

Methodology and case studies (A) Map of laws, acts, norms, regulations and standards on public space accessibility. Proposed case studies • Disputes or discrepancies between local, regional and state regulatory bodies: Barcelona’s norms and standards, and their transformation according to the development of the 2014 Catalan Law of Urban Accessibility & the recent 561/VIV Spanish state regulations • Nationwide projects and their different approaches to the standardization, implementation, and regulation of maintenance: Germany’s DIN 18040 & France’s Loi 2005-102 • Attempts at creating a European framework for urban accessibility: European Commission’s project of the European Accessibility Act.

This project seeks to understand the epistemic, political and economic transformations that accessibility measures are entailing, building on STS warnings over the democratic deficit produced by expert divides and the subsequent concern to enhancing citizen participation in technoscientific issues. This will be done through mapping, analyzing and comparing ethnographically the ‘valuation practices’ of different actors involved in urban accessibility issues in Europe (notably, disability rights activists and technical experts such as architects and engineers). Special emphasis will be given to the collaborative analysis and discussion of different versions of ‘what count as accessible public spaces.’

Proposed case studies • Smartphone in/accessibility mapping apps: Megafone. net & App&Town(Spain); J’Accede (France); Wheelmap (Germany). • Responsive and/or multisensory approaches to urban furniture accessible design: Ross Atkin Associates (UK) & Modellbaukasten Blindenleitsystem (Germany).

The main aim is to shed some light on the current dynamics of ‘expertization’, as well as the socio-economic & epistemic transformations these ‘sensible’ infrastructural interventions might be implying. Such an approach might be of great ethical relevance in order to suggest helpful enhancements in the design and implementation of accessibility policies and measures for EU citizens’ social justice, equity and participation


Focus Area – Urban and Landscape Transformation

(B) Ethnographic Case Studies and In-Depth Interviews b.1. in-depth interviews with advocates and professionals responsible for the construction of smart interfaces for the valuation of urban in/accessibility or the development of urban interventions

b.2. Observations of city hall supervisions of the implementation of accessibility laws and norms in projects concerning sidewalk reform/interventions. Proposed case studies • Following architects and urban planners in their daily activities (e.g. documentation practices, construction field-site supervision, etc.,) as well as interviewing those civil servants and private professionals involved (e.g. municipal architects, urban designers, contractors & builders): Municipal Institute of People with Disabilities (Barcelona) & other cities under consideration.

Profile for Fakultät für Architektur TU München

Jahrbuch 2015  

Jahrbuch der Fakultät für Architektur, TUM mit einem Schwerpunkt auf Forschung und Entwicklung

Jahrbuch 2015  

Jahrbuch der Fakultät für Architektur, TUM mit einem Schwerpunkt auf Forschung und Entwicklung