At some point in life, most people face some sort of low mobility or decreased mobility, be it temporary or permanent. Studies now show that lower mobility is directly linked to lower social engagement as this specific group does not feel confident enough to associate in communities due to their differences. Since proper urban design and planning can reduce the challenges of interactions with society and the environment, today, disability and reduced mobility are considered more of a social issue than a personal medical condition. Urban environments should be designed in ways that sufficiently adhere to the needs of the mobility-impaired community, allowing them to use their environment and interact with society like everyone else. This thesis aimed to determine the challenges faced by the mobility-impaired group when they interact with and use three urban and public areas in Ålesund. Through various methods of interaction, their situations were observed to reach a verdict. The target groups were the senior and handicapped citizens, and it was found that wheelchair users faced significantly more challenges than other types of users. The city was built more than 100 years ago without thoughts of universal design, therefore, many heritage sites lacked inclusivity, and incorporating inclusion is a sensitive task right now. However, newer areas are more inclusive, as they had interventions of universal design. It was also found that the users had the greatest challenge with accessibility and usage of urban amenities, but the availability of amenities significantly increased the usability of urban spaces. Some of the implications of these issues are creating more universally designed urban elements, improving accessibility, and increasing communication between citizens and authorities. Additional findings and implications are further mentioned in the paper.
Keywords: low-mobility, accessibility, universal design