Environmental accessibility for autistic individuals: Recommendations for social work practice and spaces


  • Megan Malcolm University of Canterbury


Autism Spectrum Disorder, environment, accessibility, critical disability theory, Critical Intersections model, anti-oppressive practice, social model of disability


INTRODUCTION: Research and personal stories from disability advocates have highlighted the significant impact of environmental inaccessibility on an individual’s independence and dignity. This article focuses on accessibility for autistic individuals, specifically the lack of accessibility they experience in built environments due to limited autism awareness among professionals and the public.

METHOD: Literature focusing on social work’s role with autistic individuals, autism-friendly approaches, and accessible architecture was reviewed. The social model of disability and critical disability theory were utilised to explore social work’s responsibility to develop and advocate for environmental accessibility for autistic individuals. Through this analysis and the collation of strategies from the reviewed literature, the Environmental Accessibility Infographic was developed.

IMPLICATIONS: The Environmental Accessibility Infographic has broad implications. Firstly, it can be applied to any built environment to improve accessibility for autistic people and others with sensory processing needs. Secondly, the accessibility strategies have the potential to positively impact social workers’ practice with autistic people as they can guide change that will ensure their practice is autism-friendly and anti-oppressive.

Author Biography

Megan Malcolm, University of Canterbury

Master of Social Work (Applied)


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How to Cite

Malcolm, M. (2022). Environmental accessibility for autistic individuals: Recommendations for social work practice and spaces. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(3), 103–115. Retrieved from https://anzswjournal.nz/anzsw/article/view/948



Original Articles II