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Hidden Voices: the participation of people with learning disabilities in the experience of public open space

Mathers, Alice (2008) Hidden Voices: the participation of people with learning disabilities in the experience of public open space. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The self-advocacy of people with learning disabilities is an issue of high current importance. In the UK 210,000 people have severe and profound learning disabilities, whilst twenty-five in every thousand of the population in England has a mild to moderate learning disability (Department of Health, 2001). At the most restricted end of the communication spectrum, people with learning disabilities are often forgotten members of their communities, whose label learning disabled wrongly causes confusion and fear. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 ensured reasonable adjustments must be made to environments and buildings so they are accessible to all. However, DDA legislation remains a predominately physical access issue with great attention focused on the built environment and little attention given to the experience of place or external environments. Researchers argue that it is attitudes and interactions in the person-environment relationship that have allowed our disablist society to label and segregate members of its community as disabled. The research comprised a longitudinal qualitative study working with learning disabled participants at two sites in Yorkshire and the North East of England. In this thesis the researcher examines the story of these studies and the significant results they generated. Produced are a novel visual communication toolkit, a set of six experiential themes (daily life experience, communication methods, environmental choice, social experience, activity in the landscape and experiential benefits) and a central research premise (limited environmental experience). Through these results, we as researchers and landscape professionals are able to unlock the experience of public open spaces by people with learning disabilities. When used in context, the visual communication toolkit provides a new methodology to reduce social exclusion and aid greater social participation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Learning disability, visual communication, public open space and participation
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Landscape (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.489130
Depositing User: Dr Alice Mathers
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 10:10
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2020 10:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25618

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