Following up on my post about (in the words of Mark Bessoudo) “the effect that the built environment has on our brains” and the ways in which our inner “cognitive machinery” interfaces with and is impacted by that environment, and how that can speak to many of the issues of the neurodiverse, comes news about new universal design guidelines “for neighborhoods, streets, parks and plazas, playgrounds, and gardens” released by the American Society for Landscape Architecture.
ASLA’s universal design guidelines consider physical disabilities like limited mobility, blindness and low-vision, and Deafness and hardness of hearing; people with neuro-cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; those with neuro-developmental disabilities, like autism; and aging people. ASLA defines universal landscapes as accessible, participatory, comfortable, ecological, predictable, multi-sensory, walkable, and predictable.
“Access to public space truly is—and always should be—a civil right,” says Alexa Vaughn, a Deaf landscape architect who consulted with the ASLA on the guidelines. “If we continue to design and plan cities that are inaccessible to certain people, we are committing a serious injustice towards these people. This is about guaranteeing the right to public space to all, regardless of dis/ability.”
As I said in my earlier post, “if they are beginning to study how our inner cognitive space is impacted by a sort of new cognitive context that was introduced by the development of cities and dense socialized activity … try also being neuroatypically-sensitive to stimuli.”
It’s nice, then, to see the ASLA thinking very broadly about how the built, urban environment functions across many different types of bodies and brains.