Action Kit: Researchers


Ensure that research on mobility disabilities includes persons with hidden mobility disabilities and uses appropriate baseline measures.

Main message:

Millions of people have functional limitations in the distance they can walk and the time they can stand unsupported. Most of the research on mobility disabilities, walkability, or community participation assume that independently mobile persons can walk at least 420 meters, which is more than 26 times further than a person with HMD can walk. Very few researchers consider that community participation and access to services is limited by the likelihood of having to walk more than 15 meters.

“If not for my car, I would never be able to get out. If I worry that it might be too far to walk, I just don’t go.”

Research has shown that the appropriate baselines are:

  • Short distances to walk:  10-15 meters, but no more than 20 meters.
  • Brief periods to stand:  1-2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes.

Sample email:

Because of [the reasons for writing], I’m writing to share with you highlights of research on the lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities – those who are able to walk but only a short distance and able to stand unsupported but only for a short time. The specific findings, which are detailed at are that:

  • Short distance = 10-15 meters, or at most 20 meters
  • Brief time = 1-2 minutes, or at most 5 minutes

Requirements to walk further or stand longer have serious health consequences and prevent persons with hidden mobility disabilities from engage in community activities.

Please share these findings with colleagues and other interested parties. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what research you could undertake to improve the ability of persons with HMD to participate fully and effectively in community life, particularly with regard to [the specific changes you are requesting].

Resources to use:

Examples of people to target:

  • Researchers on disabilities, especially mobility disabilities
  • Researchers on parameters for healthy / walkable / livable city initiatives
  • Researchers on community participation