Victor Santiago Pineda


Public facilities play an important role in every city, and they should be able to accommodate persons of all ages and abilities. Disability rights advocates argue that facilities and spaces such as schools, parks, civic or community centers, public safety facilities, arts and cultural facilities, recreational facilities, and plazas should be accessible to all, and equitably distributed throughout the city. They should be designed by, with, and for people with disabilities and older persons, and by doing so would be safe, and accessible by design. For persons with disabilities and older persons, “public spaces play a central role in the creation of inclusive communities and more specifically, in the formation of a public culture and in enriching cultural diversity” (Ravazzoli & Torricelli, 2017)[1]. Furthermore public spaces are spaces and hubs for mobility, economic activity and exchange and should be accessible to all regardless of impairment type.
By denying or restricting access to train stations, airports, bus stops, micro-mobility infrastructure like shared bikes, and scooters, and other intermodal terminals we are denying and restricting our own economic and social development. Accessibility barriers in essence make these streets, sidewalks and bike lanes spaces of exclusion and congestion, or as social theorist Marion Iris Young would argue, public spaces of “oppression.”  In the urban environment, realizing the politics of difference means building spaces that do not create barriers or prevent participation and rather promote and defend the access of all groups. A city that does not prioritize the access and inclusion of people with disabilities has decided that disabled people do not have the same value or citizenship worth as those without disabilities.


[1] Ravazzoli, E., Torricelli, G. P. (2017). Urban mobility and public space. A challenge for the sustainable liveable city of the future. The Journal of Public Space, 2(2), 37-50. DOI: 10.5204/jps.v2i2.9


Read the full article in accessible html-format here.


How to Cite
Pineda, V. S. (2022) “What is Inclusive and Accessible Public Space?”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 5–8. doi: 10.32891/jps.v7i2.1607.
Author Biography

Victor Santiago Pineda, World Enabled

Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda is a Venezuela-born social development scholar, serial social impact entrepreneur and disability rights expert. He is also an international speaker and consultant on accessibility related issues. Early in his career, he served as the youngest government delegate to participate in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and thereafter launched the World Enabled Global Initiative, a disability affiliate program that combines the reach of the world's most active disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs) and intergovernmental agencies. He also launched the Pineda Foundation, a voluntary non-profit that promotes the rights and dignities of young people with disabilities. Both were established in 2003. He is also the President of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES). He is a recognized leader in international disability rights and was appointed by US President Barack Obama to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.


CBM and World Enabled (2016) “The Inclusion Imperative: Towards Disability-inclusive and Accessible Urban Development” [online]. Available at: https://www.cbm.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/The-Inclusion-Imperative-Towards-Disability-Inclusive-and-Accessible-Urb....pdf

European Union Regional Policy (2011) “Cities of tomorrow: Challenges, visions, ways forward” [online]. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/studies/pdf/citiesoftomorrow/citiesoftomorrow_final.pdf

Lifchez, R. (1987) Rethinking Architecture: Design Students and Physically Disabled People. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nussbaum, M. (2006) Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Pineda, V. (2019) Building the Inclusive City: Governance, Access, and the Urban Transformation of Dubai. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ravazzoli, E., Torricelli, G. P. (2017) “Urban mobility and public space. A challenge for the sustainable liveable city of the future”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(2), pp. 37-50. doi: https://doi.org/10.5204/up’s.v2i2.91.

Rawls, J. (1971) A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Most read articles by the same author(s)