Disability, Walks, and My Neighbourhood: Experiencing the urban environment and climate crisis as a person with dysautonomia

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Cheeseman, Kendra
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University of Guelph

One in five Canadians have a disability, yet the built environment remains mostly inaccessible (Morris et al., 2017). The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and other guidelines aim to improve access, particularly for people who use assistive devices. A knowledge gap persists for many sensory disabilities and autonomic disorders. Dysautonomia is a set of conditions that controls the ‘automatic’ processes of the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature regulation (Dysautonomia International, 2019). The lived experiences of a form of dysautonomia, the interrelationships of individual condition, built environment design, and weather conditions are explored in how they contribute to health and wellbeing. Using a walk-along interview method that combines photography, weather data and GIS, the researcher, who has this condition, took six walks through their neighbourhood during different conditions. This research provides preliminary recommendations for designing for dysautonomia and a walk-along interview process for landscape architects.

accessible design, healthy built environments, dysautonomia, critical disability studies, walk-along, go-along, autoethnography, urban design, climate crisis, weather, citizen science, syncope, safe streets and mobility, inclusive public engagement, health and wellbeing design, health equity, vulnerability, case study, narrative research, landscape architecture, planning, climate design, microclimate