Exploring the use of Space and Place in the Everyday Lives of People Living with a Physical Disability.
(2015) Exploring the use of Space and Place in the Everyday Lives of People Living with a Physical Disability., no. 58.
This research is a phenomenological enquiry into the way physically disabled people use space and place. The need to unravel lived experiences through one-to-one non biased viewpoints (Wojnar & Swanson, 2007) was the landscape for the research design which was implemented; specifically the ethnographic go-along. Through this technique, participants were asked to select a place where we would meet and explore how significant social space was in navigating every day life, and for the construction of participants' identities (Kusenbach, 2003). All participants selected a disability centre. Lefebvre's (Zieleniec, 2007) spaces of interactions were used as a conceptual starting point in order to develop the understandings of social constructions of space, and with application of models of disability, a conceptual analysis developed. Findings revealed that the participants negotiated their way through the disability centres by using it as a space to develop life skills, access support, form social relationships and to attend external places. By using Lefebvre's 'spatial practices' it was found that for each participant, their background life impacted on the way they negotiated their current space. Two participants still heavily relied on family support, while the other two did not. The former mentioned participants relied on social relationships within the disability centre as a form of support. A reoccurring theme across participants' narratives was their issues surrounding the negotiating of transport and public spaces. This finding is prominent among disability studies (Shah & Priestley, 2011), suggesting that the development of accessible transport still needs further considerations in order to contribute to enhancing the lives of physically disabled people. Key Words: Physical disability, space, everyday life, social relationships, family