Skip to main page content

Mapping Accessible Mobilities

10:00, Thursday 11 May 2023 EDT (2 hours)

Mapping Accessible Mobilities

In this session, we explore innovative GIS approaches to understand, map and advocate to remove urban barriers and create more inclusive campuses. We aim to create a space for participants to explore innovative techniques, share knowledge, and discuss strategies to improve accessibility and inclusivity in our communities. The paper session will take place from 10 AM to 11 AM, followed by the workshop from 11 AM to noon.

Visualizing detailed micro and macro-scale barriers to transit in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver: The example of 4 Days 4 Lines
Kevin Manaugh, Associate Professor, McGill University, Omer Juma, 4 days 4 Lines 

Urban transport systems are characterized by multiple and overlapping accessibility issues at both micro and macro scales. For example, an individual entrance to a metro station may lack accessible features while a nearby door allows easy access for people using wheelchairs, while in other cases, an entire station, or line, may be inaccessible to people using wheelchairs (or other mobility devices). This presentation will detail an effort by 4 Days 4 Lines to audit every subway station in Montreal and Toronto to capture detailed information on how well the system welcomes people with diverse mobility needs. The process involves in-depth in-person audits capturing the presence/absence of elevators/escalators, and number of steps required to navigate each potential path from street-level to subway platform (and vice-versa). This results in easy-to-use posters which describe how accessible each station is for diverse users. In addition, stories were collected about user experiences to better understand how the transport system is used and experienced. Further, accessibility audits of neighbourhoods surrounding subway stations captured accessibility to a range of utilitarian destinations. These efforts represent a powerful tool to better capture accessibility issues built into our transport systems as well as how resident voices can be brought into visualization and decision-making frameworks.

The pedestrian experience: Representing the unique barriers faced by older adults with crowdsourced information

Amanda Bishop, MSc Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Calgary,

Older adults are involved in over 16 % of all pedestrian-vehicle crashes in Canada. These collision rates are concerning because crashes with older adults result in fatalities at triple the rate of younger pedestrians. Despite heightened fatality risks, however, little research or data explores the specific barriers older adults face while walking and/or rolling. This research is designed to fill this data gap with information crowdsourced on (WRM). WRM is a volunteered geographic information platform design to understand the barriers, hazards, and types of incidents pedestrians experience as they navigate through public space. Targeted community engagement strategies are being used collect a representative sample for older adult pedestrians in Calgary, Alberta. Hot spot analysis is being used to determine attributes and locations associated with pedestrian-vehicle collisions; and qualitative content analysis is being used to reveal information about embodied pedestrian experiences, personal attitudes, and the environmental features also contributing to unsafe pedestrian conditions. Results are anticipated to help researchers understand how WRM can provide valuable information to help planners make safer streets for everyone.

Building an interactive accessible campus map

Dr. Tim Elrick, Director of the Geographic Information Centre, McGill University, Chris Liang, Associate Specialist, GIS & Spatial Analysis at the World Wildlife Fund Canada, Ian Tattersfield, Geospatial Data Officer, Campus Development and Planning Office, McGill University

The vast downtown campus of McGill University, located on the slope of Mont-Royal in downtown Montreal, has always been challenging to navigate regardless of ability. To promote social sustainability and make the campus more accessible a project team of planners, accessibility experts and geographers created a web-based navigation application. The app is based on expertise of accessibility groups and norms as well as community input from a broad range of people who cross the campus on a daily basis. Various groups supported the project in data collection from slope and path conditions to barriers, door handle properties and step counts. Geospatial data science and web app development helped to build a routing tool for different modes of moving across campus.

Breaking Down Barriers: A Case Study of Creating Accessible Maps at Vancouver Island University

Dr. Victoria Fast, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calgary

Canadian universities and research institutions were built over time, resulting in scattered buildings, pathways, and outdated infrastructure that adhere to inadequate building codes and ableist design standards. Consequently, our campuses are riddled with disabling barriers that restrict full and equal participation in learning, teaching, and research activities. A recent survey of over 13,000 buildings across Canada found that educational institutions had the highest proportion of buildings rated as 'not accessible.'

The lack of data further exacerbates the problem, contributing to inadequate wayfinding and signage that hinder effective navigation for all members of the campus community. Shockingly, less than 15% of campus maps in 150 surveyed universities contained information on accessibility features. To address this problem and create a more accessible and inclusive campus for everyone, this project aimed to simplify the process of creating barrier-free maps and establish a replicable approach for any educational institution. Using Vancouver Island University as a case study, the talk will outline key steps in the map-making process, including the development of data typology and collection, the design of map symbology, and the use of analytics to facilitate effective campus planning for individuals with disabilities. The research approach and insights shared aim to empower geographers to contribute to accessibility and inclusivity in their own communities and campuses, one access map at a time.


WORKSHOP: Access Mapping for Campus Inclusion: An Introductory Workshop

Dr. Victoria Fast, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calgary

Dr. Tim Elrick, Director of the Geographic Information Centre, McGill University

Building on efforts to create access maps for Vancouver Island University’s Accessible Wayfindingv, and McGill University’s Interactive Accessible Network Map, in this workshop we aim to provide some introductory tools to geographers to consider what an access map would look like on their own campus. The overall learning objectives of this workshop are to encourage participants to think critically about the accessibility of their campus. We will find and use data that can help quantify barriers and provide navigation support.

In this workshop, participants will be guided to:

  • Look at their current campus map. Is there any access info available?
  • Understand what data are available using OpenStreetMap, and adding data with ID Editor.
  • Explore ArcGIS Field Maps as an option for collecting data.
  • Download these data into QGIS and/or ArcGIS Pro/Online so they can begin to create a campus access map.
  • Discuss ways participants can use the map for disability advocacy and inclusion on your campus.
  • Integrate access mapping into a lab assignment for GIS (and related) courses.

***We encourage participants to bring a laptop and/or smart phone to actively participate in the workshop.

Master of ceremonies
University of Calgary
University of Waterloo
McGill University
University of Calgary
Session detail
Allows attendees to send short textual feedback to the organizer for a session. This is only sent to the organizer and not the speakers.
To respect data privacy rules, this option only displays profiles of attendees who have chosen to share their profile information publicly.

Changes here will affect all session detail pages