Disabled Accessibility in Smart Cities

Sharon Chang

January 2019

Oxford Internet Institute

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This presentation focuses on evaluating the use of assistive technologies and big data to enhance disabled accessibility measures in smart cities. While assistive technologies based on data-driven analyses have proliferated, researchers and developers have yet to develop sufficient standards for assessing these technologies and their socio-urban implications. The presentation reviews uni-disciplinary attempts made thus far and provides four interdisciplinary principles for moving forward. The principles are: (1) The Principle of Disabled-Centred Technological Development – Context-awareness (2) The Principle of Disabled Diversity (3) The Principle of Expanding Disabled Independence and (4) The Principle of Mixed-methods studies. In relation to these principles, I will use Transport for London’s data-driven disabled accessibility measures as a case study to explore various challenges and opportunities of using big data methods. I will present necessary areas of improvements that require socio-ethical and practical urban considerations.

Having volunteered for the royal society for the blind children (RSBC), I started to become interested in how technology reworks the notion of ‘wayfinding’ for people, particularly for those with disabilities. Often, visually impaired people skilfully use their mobile devices to interact with other people as well as their surroundings. In particular, GPS-enabled mobile technology dramatically transformed the way people interact with the built environment.

Sharon Chang is an MSc student in Social Data Science at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII). Her research interests include the development of smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT), and ideas for improving disabled accessibility through data-driven, human-centred approaches. Before joining the OII, she studied at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture.