Today, many people with special needs are still excluded from open spaces. For example, visually impaired people (VIP) face many barriers when they try to access open spaces, such as parks, independently. A case study on VIP access to parks in Hong Kong was conducted to examine the question of equal access for people with special needs. The focus of the study was on the difficulties of VIP in accessing parks. The study was qualitative in nature and used field observations, direct interviews and participatory research workshops with VIP. This paper first reviews the importance of openness in open space. It then introduces the background and the methods of the study. Using the research findings, the paper argues that parks, as one kind of open space, must be open not only for some people, but for everyone, including those with special needs. The paper further identifies a number of key directions for the park design that will promote openness and social inclusion.
|Keywords:||Blind, Exclusion, Open Space, Openness, Park, Participatory Research, Public Design, Visually Impaired People (VIP)|
Professor, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong