Pushing for Universal Access in the New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda, which sets a new global strategy for sustainable urbanization, still has shortcomings regarding universal access for people with special needs.
October 5, 2016, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Vicky Jirayu

Citiscope is profiling the 16 constituent groups comprising the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), which is "the main vehicle for civil society to organize and advocate ahead of Habitat III, the U. N. urbanization summit in October in Quito."

The most recent article in the series is written by Gregg Scruggs, who focuses on the push for universal accessibility in urban areas. To understand the challenges of universal accessibility, Scruggs speaks with Victor Pineda, who runs the Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development Network, is a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and chairs the GAP constituent group for disabled persons.

"According to Pineda, roughly 1 billion people have some kind of disability. But not all disabilities are created equal, and the wide range of possible hindrances means there are few one-size-fits-all solutions," writes Scruggs.

Achieving the goals of the constituent group has also proved a challenge. According to Scruggs, the final draft of the New Urban Agenda, as released in September, included the words "persons with disabilities" 12 times. "However, the document does not mention 'universal design' or 'reasonable accommodations', two linchpin concepts in legislation to protect the disabled, nor the convention itself," explains Scruggs.

Scruggs also speaks with Mohammed Loutfy, the executive director of the Arab Forum for the Rights of People with Disabilities and a co-chair of the GAP group. Loufty describes his experiences with poor accessibility as well as the next political and public relations steps for the accessibility agenda to achieve a greater share of the New Urban Agenda.

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