Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Polgar, Janice


Community mobility, or the act of moving around within the community, can be thought of as an occupation, but also as a means to occupation, because it is essential for people to have opportunities to participate in society. People with mobility impairments do not have the same opportunities as other people to move around because of multiple challenges in the environment. This research aimed to enhance understanding of how services, systems and policies shape community mobility of people with mobility impairments in the town of Akureyri in northern Iceland. This dissertation further raises awareness about human rights, occupational rights and occupational justice issues regarding the relationship between these infrastructure factors and community mobility for this group.

Case study methodology was used, which includes using multiple methods for data collection. Two focus group interviews were conducted with people with mobility impairments, and one with service providers working within the disability sector. Based on findings from these focus groups, two policy areas were identified that are essential to support community mobility, that is transportation services and accessibility. Those policy areas were then explored further with a review of publicly available policy documents.

The overall findings of this case study highlight key areas that could improve community mobility of people with mobility impairments if taken into consideration in all policy development in Iceland. Those areas are regarding (1) Users’ involvement in policy development; (2) Clarity and consistency of policy texts; (3) Monitoring of the system as a whole; and (4) Occupational right and justice values in policies.

The findings indicate that current policies are not sufficiently congruent with the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and people with mobility impairments are subject to occupational injustices and violation of occupational rights, which originates at the system level. This work points to the need to reconsider the way policies are developed and has implications not only for people with mobility impairments, but also policy makers, service providers, and researchers in the field.