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The accessibility of public spaces for people with dementia: A new priority for the 'open city'

Blackman, Tim; Mitchell, Lynne; Burton, Elizabeth; Jenks, Mike; Parsons, Maria; Raman, Shibu; Williams, Katie


Tim Blackman

Lynne Mitchell

Elizabeth Burton

Mike Jenks

Maria Parsons

Shibu Raman

Katie Williams
Professor and Research Centre Director


The social model of disability de-medicalises disability and politicises it as an issue of universal rights. However, the rights of people with dementia have been less strongly advocated than those of people with physical disabilities. This is particularly the case with environmental planning and design. The needs of people with dementia are now informing the design of residential homes and day centres, but the issue of accessibility to public spaces and amenities has been almost completely neglected. Many outdoor environments such as shopping centres or parks may be inhospitable for people with dementia because they are disorientating, difficult to interpret and navigate, threatening or distressing. The article reviews the literature on indoor design for dementia, reports on research investigating the accessibility of outdoor environments, and describes a new approach using virtual reality technology to enable people with dementia to identify and test outdoor design and planning improvements themselves.


Blackman, T., Mitchell, L., Burton, E., Jenks, M., Parsons, M., Raman, S., & Williams, K. (2003). The accessibility of public spaces for people with dementia: A new priority for the 'open city'. Disability and Society, 18(3), 357-371.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2003
Journal Disability and Society
Print ISSN 0968-7599
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 357-371
Keywords public space, accessibility, open city, dementia
Public URL
Publisher URL