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When Accessibility of Public Space Excludes

Shopping experience of people with vision impairments


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) recognises access to consumer goods and services in the mainstream private market as essential for full participation in society. Nevertheless, people with impairments rarely enjoy the same rights and consumer experience as non-disabled individuals. This paper argues that (in)accessibility of public space is an important factor shaping how accessible the private market is for people who do not ‘fit’ conventional norms and standards. It demonstrates how category-driven accessibility provisions in some geographical areas and not in others segregate disabled people within certain providers, create social and consumer isolation, and become a marker that accentuates difference and separation between disabled consumers who live in accessible districts, and the rest of the population. To illustrate the case, the paper uses empirical evidence from mystery shopping in retail outlets and qualitative interviews with people with vision impairments who live in the ‘Blind district’ in Lithuania. The district was developed by the Soviet Union (1949-1990) to boost people with vision impairments’ participation in the socialist labour market economy.

Pages:37 to 60
Section: Space
How to Cite
Eskytė, I. (2019) “When Accessibility of Public Space Excludes”, The Journal of Public Space, 4(4), pp. 37-60. doi:

Author Biography

Dr Ieva Eskytė is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the European Research Council (Advanced Grant) funded project 'Inclusive Public Space: Law, Universality and Difference in the Accessibility of Streets'. Prior to this she has completed the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network funded PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds. Before and after completing her PhD, she worked on a number of projects concerning participation in education and labour market, migration, social service development and provision, children's social participation, and treatment decision making among others. Her research interests range widely and include disability studies, accessibility, inclusion, human rights, customer rights and research methods. . 


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