Accessible park environments and facilities for the visually impaired

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper identifies and discusses that parks, as one kind of open space, must be open not only for some people, but for everyone, including those with special needs such as visually impaired people. The paper further identifies a number of key directions for the policy, design and management of park environments and facilities that will promote openness and social inclusion. Design/methodology/approach: The study was qualitative in nature. Case study approach on park environments and facilities was adopted. Used site studies, field observations, interviews with the government officials and professionals of planners, designers and management were conducted. Direct interviews with the visually impaired people were conducted during the field observation. Some of them were also invited to participate in participatory research workshops to give comments and suggestions on the design and management of park environments and facilities. Findings: Open spaces are important and necessary for all. However, visually impaired people are always indirectly excluded from open spaces such as parks, which are important for the quality of urban life. Three areas that require attention to improve the accessibility of parks: ways of identifying and approaching the parks; overall environmental setting of the parks; and facilities inside the parks. Assistance to visually impaired people can be further categorized into information provided in advance and information provided on-site. Research limitations/implications: Further case studies are expected to be conducted in other kinds of open space and other cities in order to generate a more comprehensive understanding related to the topic. Continuous studies are also necessary since the park environments and facilities are changing all the time. With the users' participation, in particular those with special needs, in research is important. Practical implications: The findings provide reference and direction for the governments, designers and managment to plan, design and manage parks for the needs of visually impaired people. The findings also advocate inclusive and universal approach in planning, implementation and management of parks. Social implications: The findings identify that visually impaired people most of the time are indirectly excluded from accessing parks as well as other open spaces. Originality/value: Although the paper was based on a case study in Hong Kong, its practical and social implications are also important to other places. Although barrier-free concept and requirement have been enforced in many places for some years, people with special needs (in particular visually impaired people) still face a lot of "barriers" in their daily life. The findings provide insights for researchers and also policymakers, designers and management to review the needs of the visually impaired.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-609
Number of pages20
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2013


  • Blind people
  • Exclusion
  • Openness
  • Park facilities
  • Parks
  • Visually impaired people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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