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The size of the population classified as people with disabilities or older adults is increasing globally. The World Health Organization estimates that the average…
The size of the population classified as people with disabilities or older adults is increasing globally. The World Health Organization estimates that the average prevalence of disability is around 18% among adults age 18 and older. People with disabilities and older adults have lower levels of physical activity and experience significant barriers to walking in local neighbourhoods. A new perspective is needed that views disability in the context of the built environment and across the lifespan. The purpose of this chapter is to examine walking as an activity that is inclusive of any age, ability or assistive device used for mobility. Through a literature review, we illustrate the complex relationship that exists between individuals with disabilities/older adults and the built environment. We describe environmental and social factors, which have been found to be associated with walking among people with disabilities and older adults as well as factors perceived to be barriers to walking. Factors cited in the literature include aspects that fall into the environmental domains of the International Classification of Functioning. We conclude by highlighting key factors needed for planning supportive walking environments for people with disabilities and older adults. Recommendations include the use of walking audits to gain information on detailed aspects of the built environment, developing inclusive walking initiatives, including people with disabilities and older adults in the planning process and planning for maintenance.