Performance evaluation and design guidelines for equitable access of students with disabilities in university campus outdoor environments

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2016
Dinç Uyaroğlu, İlkay
The primary aim of this study is to develop performance evaluation and design guidelines for the design of university outdoor campus spaces that take into account the needs and desires of students with disabilities (SWDs). Constant performance evaluations of outdoor campus spaces are important in advancing spatial design for the equitable access of SWDs in campus life. Forming a strong relationship between the individual and his/her lived environment, assessments of accessibility performance dimensions depends fundamentally on the notion of user and spatial aspects. This thesis argues that performance evaluations should not only search for physical accessibility issues, but should also respond to equitable access, and in turn, to the social inclusion of SWDs in university spaces. To achieve the objective of the study, firstly, a case study was carried out to understand the relevant phenomena, involving a systemic approach to observing the experiences of ‘real’ users in an actual campus setting. Secondly, considering the rights of all vi students related to the campus, a study was made of the design of inclusive campus outdoor environments through the field study and the lens of Lynch’s normative theory (1981) to help explore, scrutinize and contextualize the performance evaluation parameters. A re-reading of Lynch’s performance dimensions from the perspective of equitable access can be considered a valid approach, given their basis on the idea of environmental justice. Thirdly, the Campus Accessibility Evaluation Index (CAEI) is developed with the aid of empirically grounded design parameters in order to test the developed normative framework in the study. The contribution of this dissertation to the body of architectural literature falls under two aspects. First, it proposes a new contextual framework that follows, questions and interprets universal architectural and planning theories within a local context, emphasizing that an in-depth look at a local sample will broaden architectural theories. Second, the thesis raises arguments that aim to close the gap between normative and theoretical design parameters and architectural practice, highlighting that priority should be given to efforts to bridge this gap. The development of the CAEI for application in architectural practice nationwide is the most noteworthy contribution of this thesis, forming a strong relationship between the practical and theoretical aspects.