Rob Imrie deposited Shared Space and the Post-politics of Environmental Change on Humanities Commons 6 years ago
While the design of urban space provides an opportunity to create places sensitised to the manifold complexities of the body, places continue to be designed with little understanding of the interrelationships between design, disability and space. One issue is the absence of embodied knowledge about impairment in urban design, and the understanding of disability as an aberration, not intrinsic to the crafting of well-designed environments. With the focus on vision impairment, the paper evaluates a popular approach to improving the quality of street environments, shared space, in which pavements and roads are merged into single and shared surfaces. Data from a study of English local authorities show that the diverse needs of vision-impaired people are barely recognised or given a platform to influence shared space policy. It is suggested that this marginalisation of vision-impaired people is part of a post-political condition, in which deliberative techniques, such as public consultation, are part of a process to manage those that dissent from the preferred policy choice—i.e. shared space. An implication is the depoliticisation of shared space policy in which the unequal, and unjust, ways in which urban design impacts on vision-impaired people are neither articulated nor recognised by formal policy programmes.