University of Calgary

Russell Copley

  • Master's Student
  • Masters Thesis Students

About Me

My research can best be summarized in the question: What can crowdsourcing tell us about the accessibility of the built enviornment? Currently, the urban built enviornment is not built to be accessible as the standard. For disabled people, this results in systemic exclusion from public places: transportation, groceries, retail, entertainment, and leisure. This fundamental inaccessibility results in disabled people not being able to participate fully and equitably. However, there are many efforts currently underway to map the barriers and aids to mobility in cities. Access Now is one of the organizations currently mapping the accessibility of establishments across the world. Through a research partnership, I'm using their crowdsourced data to understand trends of accessibility within cities. The Accessible Canada Act has the inspirational (and hopefully not aspirational) goal of building a "barrier-free Canada" by 2040. The outcomes of this research are two fold. First, I will be able to provide Access Now with a list of recommended areas to extensively survey to estimate the number of accessible buildings within Canada. Second, I will be adding to the literature on crowdsourcing geographic data (Volunteered Geographic Information, or VGI), and broadening our understanding of urban accessibility. 

Outside of academia, I am deeply committed to community justice and building a healthier future. My past work in first aid and harm reduction in queer nightclubs during the (then) worst years of the fentanyl crisis, being a peer moderator on Queering the Map, working in university residences supporting the emotional, social, and academic development of the residents on my floor, being a peer writing and learning tutor in the Simon Fraser University library, volunteering with the Active Bystander's Network to advocate for stronger university policies to support survivors of sexual violence and peer outreach, are all indicators of my committments to community justice and healthier, kinder futures. 

We are more than our academic selves. After all, we're part of the world around us. To separate them is to do a disservice both to our research, and to our communities.

Photograph of Russell Copley

Current Studies

  • Master's Student
    Degree: Master of Science
    Supervisor: Victoria Fast
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