Action Kit: Designers of public spaces


Ensure that public facilities (buildings, streets, parks and recreational areas) as designed to be barrier-free for persons with HMD.

Main message:

Millions of people have functional limitations in the distance they can walk and the time they can stand unsupported. Neither universal design principles nor green design principles ensure barrier-free public spaces for persons with HMD. Focus on the importance of maneuverability for those with visible mobility disabilities has obscured the need for different types of accommodation for those with HMD:

  • Short distances to walk:  35-50 feet, but no more than 70 feet.
  • Brief periods to stand:  1-2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes.

Types of accommodation needed:

  • Land use protocols and building codes modified to ensure that 70 feet is the longest distance a person needs to walk without being able to sit down and rest. See suggested accommodation guidelines.
  • Support the use of cars plus parking close to services protected.

“If not for my car, I would never be able to get out.”

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, which you can find in more detail at . Please share these findings with colleagues and other interested parties. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what changes you can effect 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:

  • Urban planners
  • Developers
  • Architects and landscape architects
  • Engineers
  • Recreation facilities
  • Community centers
  • Park managers