Research Papers

Wheelchair accessibility: Descriptive study of intersections in an urban area

Filename 000-benne-student-paper.pdf
Filesize 246 KB
Version 1
Date added June 3, 2007
Downloaded 2 times/fois
Category 2007–CMRSC-XVII–Montreal
Tags Student Paper Award Winner
Author/Auteur Sean Bennett, R. Lee Kirby, Blair MacDonald
Award/Prix Étudiant 1 Student


Background: Architectural barriers in public settings reduce accessibility for those with disabilities. This diminishes community participation, ability for independent living, and equality of opportunity. City street corners are commonly used areas for pedestrian traffic, but little research has been done to determine their level of accessibility for people with disabilities. Objective: To determine the level of wheelchair accessibility at a sample of street corners in the Halifax region. Design: Descriptive study. Sample: 79 pedestrian ramps within the Dalhousie University/Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre area. Methods: Characteristics of the ramps were collected. These included ramp width, ramp slope, height of the lip, and slope of the road leading up to the ramp. The characteristics of each ramp were compared to the standard specifications of Halifax Regional Municipality and City of Ottawa guidelines. Each ramp was also graded for accessibility with a 3-point scale based on access to the crosswalk, presence of potholes or large cracks, and presence of drainage grates. Results: Of the 79 ramps assessed, 13.9% were less than 100cm in width, 77.2% had ramp slopes greater than 4.6s, 34.5% had lip heights greater than 25mm, and 64.6% had a road-ramp slope difference of greater than 7.4s. Only 2.5% of the ramps met all of the four measures and three accessibility criteria. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrated failure to fully meet accessibility standards. This suggests the need for better compliance, but also increased training of the wheelchair skills necessary for wheelchair users to overcome these architectural barriers.

Sean Bennett, R. Lee Kirby, Blair MacDonald