Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Special Education and Rehabilitation
Judith Markham Holt
Social integration in community is especially important for individuals with disabilities well-being. Although individuals with disabilities reside within the community's physical environment, they are often marginalized in the social environment. This may be the result of individuals with disabilities residing in physical environments that negatively affect opportunities for integration in the social environment. However, there has been little investigation to understand the impact of the physical environment on the social integration of individuals with disabilities in community.
The purpose of this investigation was to (a) examine the current body of evidence concerning the impact of a community's physical environment on opportunities for social integration, and (b) determine to what extent individuals with disabilities reside in physical environments that contribute to opportunities for social integration in community.
To address the first study purpose, a review of the current body of evidence suggests that community environments that are pedestrian-oriented, possess appropriate common spaces, and fewer neighborhood incivilities, are likely to promote social integration.
Secondly, two questions were evaluated: (a) to what extent adults with disabilities' places of residence are correlated with mixed-land use community environments, and (b) to what extent adults with disabilities' place of residence are correlated with community common space. Linear regression was used to determine the magnitude of the relationship between Utah's Davis and Weber counties' census block groups' percent of population with disabilities, percent of population below poverty level, land use diversity, and the percent of the area within walking distance of community common space.
The most significant association with individuals with disabilities places of residence are socioeconomic. This study indicates that poverty level predicts 30-35% of the variance in individuals with disabilities place of residence. Given, the very modest association with mixed-land use (4%) and common space (2%), poverty level is the most useful predictor of an individual with disabilities place of residence.
Future research should explore more appropriate measures of community common space, at the residence and neighborhood level, and the pedestrian-orientation of the community environment. Future research should also explore the strong association between socioeconomic factors and individuals with disabilities places of residence.
Christensen, Keith M., "The Impact of the Physical Environment on the Social Integration of Individuals with Disabilities in Community" (2010). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 720.
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