Accessibility of shared space for visually impaired persons

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic


    Shared Space is a new concept for the design of the public realm that is increasingly applied in Western countries. In Shared Space, the various functions of the public domain are combined, rather than separated. The behavior of road users is mainly determined by social relations and not exclusively by conventional traffic regulations. For visually impaired people the required visual human interaction is difficult or impossible, and the lack of conventional infrastructure might lead to problems with orientation and navigation. Therefore, the Shared Space concept is a potential disadvantage, if not a danger, for this specific group. The objective of this study is to provide an objective overview of the problems that this group encounters in Shared Space.
    Ten Shared Space environments in the Netherlands have been selected to assess their common characteristics and to be judged on possible problems for the accessibility for visually impaired people. In addition seventeen visually impaired persons living in the vicinity of a Shared Space environment were interviewed about their experiences. Finally we conducted a field study in which twenty visually impaired participants performed tasks in two Shared Space environments and in two conventional environments.
    The inventory of characteristics of the selected Shared Space environments resulted in a list of possible threats for visually impaired persons. The interviews confirmed these possible threats, although there were large differences between the experiences of various visually impaired persons. Participants in the field study generally felt less comfortable and were more dependent in Shared Space environments. Especially guide dog users had severe problems to complete the tasks in the Shared Space environments.
    Actual Shared Space environments in the Netherlands do not follow the current guidelines for general accessibility for visually impaired people. Independent mobility of visually impaired persons cannot be guaranteed with the present implementation of Shared Spaces.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationVISION 2011
    Place of PublicationKuala Lumpur
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventKL Vision 2011: Conference on low-vision - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Duration: 1-Feb-20111-Feb-2011


    ConferenceKL Vision 2011: Conference on low-vision
    CityKuala Lumpur

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