Claudia de Laaf


Internationally, various elements within the realm of equality and inclusion such as gender, race and religion have been the center of heated debate. While these issues also still require close attention, it is striking that the theme of inclusion of people with disabilities seems to enjoy a position that is lower on the international agenda. This article advocates for rights of people with disabilities by addressing the theme of accessibility of the public space. The article critically assesses the accessibility of the Dutch Metropole area, and underscores the obstacles and opportunities for people with disabilities to participle in the public space in an equal manner. It dissects a case study called Samen op Pad (On the Road Together), an initiative that deploys geographic information systems to enhance the independent navigation of people with disabilities through the urban public space. The article evaluates the lack of accessibility in the current design of the urban space and calls for a localized approach for inclusive governance and service delivery for people with disabilities. Additionally, it explores the added value of the case study of integral and interdisciplinary cooperation across local government entities, GIS specialists, and people with lived experience to improve accessibility of the urban area through smart use of data. Lastly, the article calls for international knowledge exchange to increase awareness to join forces to normalize a public space that is user friendly and accessible to all.



How to Cite
de Laaf, C. (2022) “On the Road Together: Bridging the Gap between the Public Space and Accessibility for People with Disabilities in the Dutch Metropole Area”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 235–242. doi: 10.32891/jps.v7i2.1492.
Non Academic / Case study
Author Biography

Claudia de Laaf, VNG International

Claudia de Laaf is a project manager at VNG International, the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), in the field of capacity development of democratic local government. She is involved in lobby and advocacy, activity implementation and reporting. Her thematic focus is the development of sustainable and resilient cities and communities. On the national level, stimulating and supporting Dutch municipalities to work with the sustainable development goals by providing a horizontal lens to bridge the social, economic and physical domain. The support for municipalities includes advice, establishment of tools, organization of events and facilitation of knowledge exchange between municipalities and other important (inter)national actors. Internationally, she is involved in urban development projects that range from smart city governance structures aimed at strengthening local governments to lobby and advocacy for increased accessibility of the urban area and inclusion of people with disabilities in the decision-making process. She has arranged various study visits of international delegations to the Netherlands on the subject of green and/ or smart urban development. She holds a Research Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Leiden University with an academic background in culture, (urban) identity and state-society relations in post-conflict societies.


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Samen op Pad (2021) Plan van aanpak ‘Samen op pad’ 2021-2024 [online]. Available at: https://www.samenoppad.info/pages/documenten (Accessed: 6 January 2022).

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