The Inclusive Public Space (IPS) Project is an interdisciplinary research project based at the School of Law at the University of Leeds, UK. It is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Advanced Grant Agreement No 787258). It runs from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2023.
The project is led by principal investigator Professor Anna Lawson from the University of Leeds. Peter Blanck, University Professor and BBI chairman, and Barry Whaley, project director of the Southeast ADA Center, are involved, along with colleagues from the University of Leeds and collaborators in the Netherlands, India and Kenya.
The Project investigates the social justice problems caused by city streets which exclude some people, particularly older and disabled people, who do not conform to ablist assumptions about the physical and cognitive capabilities of pedestrians.
The Project aims to deepen understanding of what features of streets (including interaction with vehicles) are experienced as exclusionary and by whom; how effectively different types of law are operating to give redress and shape inclusive environments; the political profile of the problem and the responsiveness of politicians to it; and how shared concern about these social justice problems can be increased. An online survey will gather data on the experiences of street-exclusion – and the effectiveness of law and politics in challenging and reducing street-exclusion – from pedestrians anywhere in the world. There will also be a series of interviews with international experts about the situation globally. Otherwise, however, the empirical work will focus on two cities in each of the five project countries – India, Kenya, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA
In the initial fieldwork phase, researchers will work with participants by phone and online. There are two main types of participant in each country – pedestrians and stakeholders. Pedestrian participants (between 40 and 50 in each city) will take part in an interview, choose a street journey to be filmed and have the chance to help make the film and feature in it. They will make an audio-recording of their story of how street exclusion has affected them and what happened if they tried using legal or political tools to change things. Stakeholders will fall into three main categories – activists and campaigners; lawyers; and policy-makers, planners or implementors. They will take part in small group interviews.
In a later feedback phase of the project, researchers will reconnect with participants in each of the five project countries, presenting emerging findings, guides, films, simulation software and other draft outputs. They will bring participants physically together and seek feedback and ideas for maximising impact and usefulness. We will also be using the Pedestrian Simulator laboratory at the University of Leeds to explore how effectively immersive environments can be used to increase awareness and enhance solidarity.
Alongside its local and national focus, the international and comparative dimensions of the project are important. We will contribute to relevant debates relating to the Sustainable Development Goals and international human rights, and carry out comparative analyses of issues including equality law and its enforcement and effectiveness; disability, older people and pedestrian politics; and strategic policy engagement and impact.
You can find out more about the IPS Project, including the organisations and people we’ll be working with in the USA, the Netherlands, Kenya and India at The Inclusive Public Space website