chapter  1
Pages 12

This book is about the relationship between space and disability. In particular, the book explores how social and spatial processes can be used to disable rather than enable people with physical impairments. The topic is important for at least two reasons: first, space, and related concepts such as mobility and accessibility, are profoundly important to the lived experience of disability; second, this fact has been given relatively little attention in the past by most Western social scientists, including those in the spatial disciplines, Urban Planning, Geography and Architecture. In Geography, the long disciplinary silence on this profound dimension of human experience is especially perplexing. According to the United Nations, there are approximately 500 million persons in the world with physical impairments (Campbell and Oliver, 1996). Moreover, at any given time, disability probably affects 10 to 15 per cent of national populations (Golledge, 1993). Disability is, simply put, a vitally important human experience that Geography cannot afford to ignore. A failure to embrace disability as a core concern can only impoverish the discipline, both theoretically and empirically.