Last week, we were pleased to welcome Jen Powley as part of the First-Person Narratives for an Accessible Built Environment lecture series. Jen spoke about accessibility considerations from her experience as a person with progressive multiple sclerosis, an advocate for persons with disabilities, and as a certified planner — a graduate of our own School of Planning!
Firstly, Jen used many examples of spaces that have made her feel like an afterthought. She described for us how wheelchair users are often excluded from everyday activities and events. In addition, Jen was able to speak to barriers experienced by persons who are visually impaired.
One of the biggest challenges to planning for accessibility is trying to come up with solutions that work for everyone. Jen highlighted how some design solutions, meant to address the needs of persons with certain disabilities, can be in direct conflict with the needs of others. However, Jen’s lecture was optimistic. She discussed how she herself is continuing to advocate for more accessible communities through a pilot project on housing for those with severe disabilities. She also encouraged students in the audience to continue to seek solutions to the challenges of designing for all.
In conclusion, PEACH would like to thank Jen for her participation in this lecture series. We are grateful for her expertise and passion for planning for accessibility. We hope to continue to work with her on current and future projects.
Jen is the author of Just Jen: Thriving Through Multiple Sclerosis. Jen graciously signed a couple copies for the PEACH Research Unit. We recommend checking it out!