This project is supported by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Award at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus.


Understanding Bathrooms as Sensory Inclusive Public Spaces 

Public bathrooms are complicated spaces that deal with basic and private human functions and rights. While current research is rightly directed at creating gender neutral bathrooms to facilitate greater inclusion, there remains a substantial absence in research on the sensory accessibility of such deeply political spaces (Schmidt 2013; Schwartz 2018). In Canada, disability was first recognized under the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1977 and then in 1986 with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Galer 2015). Today, the Accessible Canada Act addresses situations that “hinder the full and equal participation in society of persons with a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation” (Government of Canada 2018). As leading anthropologists show, disability “is a fact of life at home and in the public sphere […] that demands anthropological attention as an essential form of human nature" (Ginsburg and Rapp 2013, 63). This Act will ensure that equal opportunity, autonomy, and meaningful involvement in public spaces are protected rights for Canadians of all abilities, including the 3.8 million Canadians who identify as living with a disability (Government of Canada 2018). This fourth-month sensory ethnography project focuses on underrepresented sensory impairments, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will capture how anthropology produces applied outcomes for sensory accessibility in public spaces today.

Learn more about Bill C81: Accessible Canada Act here.

This is a community based project in collaboration with the Okanagan Regional Library as well as the Collaborative and Experimental Ethnography Lab and the Institute for Community Engaged Research based at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. This research project is currently in progress under the supervision of Dr. Fiona P. McDonald and Dr. Christine Schreyer


Future open access iterations of this project are currently in development.



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