Sensory Overlay: Promoting Inclusivity and Accessibility for Americans with Disabilities along the Midtown Greenway in Uptown Minneapolis
El Tamimi, Alina
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Urban spaces are often hostile environments for individuals with disabilities. The bigger American cities grow the harder they become to navigate for those with disabilities as they provide more challenges and obstacles. Cities and public spaces are often designed with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Unfortunately, these designs always feel like an afterthought. It feels as though necessities for individuals with disabilities is set aside and are only provided due to the requirements. Individuals with cognitive or sensory disabilities are often completely disregarded. Even though recently more and more urban projects are being designed with amenities for people with disabilities, we still lack those basic needs that accommodate everyone and allow people of all abilities to interact, as well as experience the environment. For years urban greenway systems have been a wonderful and interactive space for many. Greenways can be a recreational space or a source of commute. However, these spaces are restricting as they fail to accommodate everyone. By better understanding those with a physical, sensory and cognitive study we can begin to design better public spaces and environments that would not only accommodate everyone but will also connect a different kind of people together. This thesis will examine how greenway systems can improve day to day life for people of all abilities, how greenways can connect not only people but neighborhoods and how those important connections to amenities can change everyday lives for everyone. This thesis will also explore the possibilities of multiple technological aspects that could be incorporated in the form of light, illustrations, installations and material patterns. By taking an already existing greenway system that already connects the city of Minneapolis together there is room to focus only on accessibility and amenities. Although the Minneapolis midtown greenway is already known as an ADA accessible destination, it misses most main aspects to a sustainable and accessible design. The greenway mainly caterer to cyclists rather than pedestrians and has no room for wheelchair users, more so it has absolutely no amenities for people with sensory or cognitive disabilities. This thesis includes a design for accessible greenway systems that solve these often-overlooked challenges that people with disabilities face in their day to day lives.