Enabling Spaces
Developed by Michael Dorn
Disabilities Studies at Temple University

A main objective of the BITS Program is to provide high school students enrolled in the Philadelphia School District with opportunities to gain skills and experience using information technologies to visualize their communities. Students are introduced to basic geographic concepts and themes related to social inequality as a context for critically interrogating observations in familiar surroundings. 

Enabling spaces was designed to introduce students to the assessment of built urban environments from the perspective of persons with physical disabilities. Students were provided with an introductory lecture to gain familiarity with the history of the disabilities social movement and emergence of the interdisciplinary field of disabilities studies. Students were also given instructions on how to conduct an assessment of the accessibility of a site or neighborhood.

Field exercises that provide students with opportunities to analyze barriers and accommodations in the local landscape provided opportunities for discussion about how communities could be re-envisioned and re-designed from the perspective of persons with physical disabilities. Students used web tools to visualize their ideas about what comprises enabled spaces.