Accessibility Research Group

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!!!New book!!!

The Accessibility Research Group is based in the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London. It has a wide-ranging brief to understand what accessibility is, why it is important, what barriers to access exist, how these could be eliminated or reduced and who these barriers affect. Our research tries to understand how people are disabled by poor design of the transport system so that we can learn how to provide accessible systems that enable people to achieve their potential.  You can see details of the members of the group, examples of our current and recent research, a list of publications and latest developments in the group by clicking on the relevant links above.



Our definition of accessibility is "the ease with which a person can reach and take part in, or use,  an activity" and we are concerned to make sure that the design of the transport system does not disable people from reaching the activity. Activities designed to be accessible to private cars are likely to be inaccessible to people who have no access to a car and so we work with public transport. Therefore a lot of our research concerns accessibility and public transport. Older people and people with physical, sensory or cognitive problems often have difficulties using public transport which mean that they either have to purchase and run a car or they do not go out. Many other people face the same dilemma - carrying heavy shopping or supervising small children are just two examples. If they happen to live in a rural area the lack of public transport can be a major cause of unwanted isolation. This is because there is a gap in the understanding between the accessibility offered by the transport system- especially public transport - and the needs of the people. The Accessibility Research Group is working on several projects to tackle these problems from a number of different perspectives.

We believe that the world should be designed to be accessible. This includes buildings and infrastructure, vehicles, planning and operating systems, network design, information and training. Our approach is to try to understand accessibility, to find ways of eliminating or reducing barriers and to test these, both in controlled laboratory settings and in the real world. We work closely with people who are subjected to barriers so that we can understand the problems better and ensure that any solutions are appropriate. We are known for a radical approach to the research area, attempting to answer challenging questions about the topics and the methodology by which they can be investigated.

Our research interests include issues such as infrastructure design, specification and design of accessible vehicles, rural public transport, urban public transport micronetworks, community development, information systems for people with learning difficulties, transport problems for people with mental health problems, co-ordination of transport resources,  manoeuvrability of wheelchairs in restricted spaces, development of video mapping devices, social inclusion and access to justice in planning processes.

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Accessibility Research Group Latest News

July 2002

Our book has now been published. It is an account of the thinking behind our research projects and some of the outcomes, both in terms of theory and practice. The book is called "Accessibility and the bus system: from concepts to practice" and is available from good bookshops and the publishers (Thomas Telford). The book is intended to encourage thinking about the calls that society makes on transport systems and how they can respond in an equitable and fair way. We discuss examples of practical applications of our research on bus stop design and bus system operation to provide a thorough and practical approach to the design of accessible bus systems.

We have just started working on a feasibility project called "Evaluating Measures to Enhance the Mobility of Older and Disabled People". The project is funded by the Department for Transport and involves, in addition to the Accessibility Research Group, the University of Westminster and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr Elvezia Cepolina has joined the Group to work on this project.

Nick Tyler visited the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and gave a presentation called "Sociedad con Equidad: el papel del transporte", which discussed the importance of accessible design in transport systems to achieving an inclusive society, to a Seminar organised by the Consejo Nacional de Integración de la persona con Discapacidad in Ayacucho.

June 2002

Ricardo Marar successfully defended his thesis "Assessing the implementation of supranational regulatory activity in the road freight sector" and has been awarded a PhD degree.

May 2002

Nick Tyler attended the Third Workshop on Trans-Alpine Networks in Stresa, Italy, which was organised by  the Interdisciplinary Centre for Co-operative Research in the Social Sciences. He presented a paper on public participation, which highlighted the need for governments and local people to work together on the planning and design of transport projects and how this might be achieved. He then visited Genoa, where he gave a short lecture on accessibility and transport research at the University of Genoa.

Nick Tyler has been appointed Professor of Communities and Transport at UCL. The promotion will take effect from October 2002.

March/April 2002

We have now been awarded a three-year grant for a project called TOCCATA (Training Opportunities for Community-Centred Accessible Transport Applications). This will involve working with the University of Brasilia to raise sensitivity to disability issues in local schools with children of all ages to develop courses to help improve the long term understanding of social inclusion in Brasilia. The project is funded by the British Council. This project coincides well with the accessibility awareness project being carried out jointly by the Accessibility Research Group and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Lima, Peru.

January/February 2002

The University of Genoa has conferred a doctorate on Elvezia Cepolina for her research into the microscopic simulation of pedestrians, for which the empirical work was carried out in the Accessibility Research Group. We are hoping to find ways of continuing this work with Elvezia in the future.

The game produced as part of the TRUMPET project will be made available via the web. Please look at the TRUMPET web page and if you are interested in obtaining a copy, plese contact Chris Cook.

December 2001

Elvezia Cepolina presented a paper to the Annual Convention "Metodi e Tecnologie dell'Ingegnaria dei Trasporti", held at Reggio Calabria (Italy), on the microscopic simulation of pedestrian behaviour carried out while she was studying at UCL.

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PhD Study with the Accessibility Research Group

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Accessibility is a subject area which is ripe for doctoral research. Current doctoral projects include the study of bus stop design and operation, accessibility issues for micronetworks and feeder services and implementation of supranational regulation. Other areas of interest include cognitive analysis of information needs, work with people with learning difficulties, pedestrian activities, infrastructure design and community-centred governance. Here are some examples of topic areas which could arise from our current and previous research. Feel free to discuss these and other ideas with Nick Tyler.
A laboratory set up to study details of the manoeuvrability of wheelchairs. User-centred wheelchair design is a potential PhD topic. We have also been examining the implications for wheelchair access to historic houses.
The buses that use this bus stop in Rouen (France) are guided optically. How this - and other - technology could be used in other types of bus system and the potential for the design of better local networks is another possible PhD topic.
Young people testing a travel training game as part of the TRUMPET project. Developments of this work and other information-based research could yield exciting topics for PhD research.
The study of pedestrian movement and people-centred infrastructure design can generate a large number of potential PhD topics to help understand how to make the pedestrian environment more socially inclusive.

Doctoral students have all the benefits of being members of the UCL Graduate School and of working within the Centre for Transport Studies. Much of our research involves external bodies such as Transport for London, local and central government and private sector companies in the UK and overseas. In addition, those working within the Accessibility Research Group can become involved in any of our research projects - some of which can help to provide useful data sources, experimental facilities, or interesting facets of problems which can be explored as part of the doctoral research. This contact helps to keep the research focused on real issues, while encouraging the more philosophical side of PhD research to flourish. Doctoral students are encouraged to take part in training courses organised by UCL or elsewhere as appropriate throughout their period of study. If you are interested in doctoral study on any aspect of accessibility, you should contact Nick Tyler in the first instance to discuss the possibilities.

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Current and Recent Projects

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Research Team

List of Publications

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Last updated July 2002
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