Spatial Requirements for People with Disability: Rethinking Designed Public Spaces in Dhaka
This paper investigates the spatial requirements of the physically challenged disabled people, especially wheelchair users as a specific group, in public spaces for their physical inclusion in the urban built environment in Dhaka. While public spaces are platform for social interactions, their unresponsive physical design remains a barrier for not contributing to inclusiveness towards ensuring disable peoples’ equal access to these public spaces. Review of the literature focusing ‘Social Model of Disability’ and ‘Inclusive Approach’, followed by preliminary observations from a case study in Dhaka led to examine the drawbacks of designing public spaces in terms of three major issues; accessibility, activity and comfort in giving wheelchair users equal access. This endeavor also aims at raising awareness among the local built environment professionals, policy makers and different stakeholders regarding the need of normative standards for disable people. The design considerations of public spaces in Bangladesh seem to neglect the spatial requirements for the physically challenged disabled in society. Under ongoing rapid urbanization in Dhaka, the design professional’s negligence towards need of disable people and absence of detail regulations for disabled people in the built environment are identified as major barriers to delivering disable friendly public spaces. The paper concludes with specific and general recommendations for sensitizing meaningful, inclusive public spaces in Dhaka by considering the special need of the wheelchair users.