Journal article

Despite it being six decades since the disability rights movements in areas like North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, where steadfast activists (past and present) called for an end to the oppression and institutionalisation of disabled and chronically ill people – we are still here, still being excluded.

While a raft of measures have been implemented due to disabled people’s activism such as community living, physical and digital accessibility, and anti-discrimination legislation – for many disabled people worldwide; dignity, choice, and control are still not realized.

The adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 should have been another significant turning point – yet the rights of disabled people cannot be fulfilled by the same entrenched ableist, colonist institutions and systems that continue to subjugate us.

In urban planning and design, these prejudices are played out and reflected in the built and digital form – through our housing and streets, infrastructure, interiors and exteriors, public and private spaces. Exclusion of body-mind diversity is far and wide – disabled people are constantly reminded that “you don’t belong—the world is not built for you.” Public planning conversations about matters that affect our lives fail to incorporate our diverse communication needs, or worse still – we’re not even thought about at all. Basic things like going to the toilet or taking public transport to attend an appointment are acts taken for granted by many–while these same acts for disabled people can require exhaustive planning with contingencies. Many trips are disrupted or not made due to being too adversarial and hard to navigate. Injustices and oppressions are also not experienced evenly; deep intersections are at play, as reflected by activist Indigenous disabled people, disabled people of colour, disabled people in the global south, queer disabled people, and disabled women and girls.

Across the globe disabled people’s identity and voice is strengthening. There is growing resistance and push back against the omission of and apathy towards disabled people.

This edition of Interface – Disability Justice and Urban Planning – reflects critically on urban planning’s role and calls into question the oppression of disabled people through ableist neoliberal policy, education, and practice.1 It seeks to bring visibility to a large and diverse group of people who have been unseen, excluded, and siloed for too long; and to open up conversations about disability justice and the embracing of our body-mind diversity.

We had an overwhelming number of responses to the call for contributions – sadly, more than could be accommodated in this edition. We also want to acknowledge the challenges to disabled authors around the globe working with a very specific journal production deadline – everyone’s professional and personal pressures, and bodies and minds all had to line up to hit dates– and we hope to see more of those writings in future commentaries.

The unique collection of short articles and reflections here speak to the heart of this edition – going beyond discussing accessibility to recognise and delineate how deeply ableism is embedded in planning theory, research, education, and practice, and to engage with vision and imagination about what it would look like to plan and make urban policy from a foundation of disability justice.

Publication Details
Access Rights Type: