Stakeholders’ Walkability/Wheelability in Neighbourhoods (SWAN)

The Stakeholders’ Walkability/Wheelability in Neighbourhoods (SWAN) project is led by Dr. Atiya Mahmood in Simon Fraser University’s Department of Gerontology. The project engages older adults and individuals with disabilities to learn more about their lived experiences navigating urban environments and conducts joint accessibility audits of their communities. This work empowers individuals to advocate for themselves using evidence-based data – raising awareness about how cities can improve urban accessibility and, consequently, participation in civic life. Results of this project are used to inform City Engineering and Transportation Planning (pedestrian realm) projects and capital planning with the goal of improving community accessibility and inclusion.

The SWAN project is a component of Towards Barrier-Free Communities: A Partnership for Improving Mobility, Access and Participation (MAP) Among People with Disabilities. MAP is funded by a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Partnership Grant (2020-2027) and is a research partnership between Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and Université Laval.

In 2024, Dr. Mahmood and her team received additional funding from SSHRC for a related project, Visualizing and Improving Urban Accessibility in BC Municipalities Through Community Engaged Research: Case Study of Burnaby. This project, in partnership with Burnaby Neighbourhood House and the Project Sidewalk team at the University of Washington, proposes digitally mapping selected neighbourhoods’ pedestrian infrastructure in Burnaby to assess their levels of accessibility, in conjunction with ground-truthing audits using the SWAN tool.

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If you are a City of Burnaby staff member, an SFU researcher or student, a Burnaby non-profit organization, or a community member, and would like to collaborate with the Civic Innovation Lab, please contact us through the link below.