According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical barriers are “structural obstacles in natural or manmade environments that prevent or block mobility (moving around in the environment) or access” for people with disabilities. These barriers can affect the opportunities of people with disabilities to participate in their communities. Examples of physical barriers include steps and curbs that block a person with mobility disabilities from using a sidewalk or entering a building or the absence of an accessible weight scale in a medical office that accommodates people who use wheelchairs.
In the US, standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) address access in places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, government buildings, recreation facilities, schools, and other locations. The Access Board and the ADA National Network can assist architects, planners, builders, and advocates in understanding and implementing these standards in new construction and existing facilities.
Throughout its history, NIDILRR has funded projects that research how physical barriers affect people with disabilities in relation to community participation, including employment and education, and on how to make the physical environment accessible for people with disabilities. NARIC’s information specialists searched the NARIC collection and found over 700 articles related to physical barrier research. Search REHABDATA to find related articles or contact NARIC to assist you in your search.