Date of Award

Fall 2021

Publication Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

P.M. van Wyk

Second Advisor

V. Mogyorody

Third Advisor

N. Azar


Aging, Barrier normalization, Person-environment fit, Phenomenological interviews, Vulnerable populations



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Senior centres aim to support and improve the health of older adults by offering a wide variety ofservices and activities tailored to their needs, yet there is little known about accessibility of senior centres. Inaccessible environments can negatively impact participation and health potentially leading to increased sedentary behaviour and morbidity. This study explores the accessibility experiences of older adults through a case study of a senior centre in Southwestern Ontario. This study utilizes a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to ascertain a deeper understanding of the participants’ lived experiences. Six older adult members (m = 2, f = 4; Mage = 72 years) at the participating senior centre volunteered to complete semi-structured interviews. Exploration of data requires each interview to be transcribed verbatim, then analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Emerging from the data were three themes: ideological perspective, aging identity, and barrier dismissal. Upon further analysis, it was revealed that all themes individually, and collectively, contributed to barrier normalization. If participants have been engaging in barrier normalization, they may fail to notice accessibility issues leading them to believe challenges experienced are minor or that few-to-no barriers exist at the senior centre. Normalizing barriers within the environment may indicate to older adults that they are responsible for overcoming challenges, as barriers are a product of their declining bodies. Thus, perpetuating victim-blaming ideologies and potentially hindering environmental approaches to accessibility that target external factors to create environments that are accepting and inclusive to a diversity of individuals.

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