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Healthy Aging Research Network Environmental Audit Tool and Protocol


The built and social environments of a community greatly impact the livability of that community – particularly for older adults living in the area. To ensure the built environment of our communities facilitate safe mobility, we must assess the current state of our neighborhoods and analyze our streets, intersections, sidewalks, and pedestrian facilities. This audit tool and protocol were designed to assist residents with assessing community-scale and street-scale factors associated with mobility among older adults. This report is the product of quantitative reliability testing and qualitative walking interview with older adults along familiar routes.

Key Points

This audit tool provides guidance for communities looking to assess their built environment. It addresses special considerations specific to older pedestrians such as sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights, cognitive ability and memory, slower walking pace, and susceptibility to steep inclines. When evaluating the walkability of communities, auditors should start their assessment by choosing a sampling approach – i.e. auditing the entire area, auditing selected routes based on specified typologies, or auditing randomly selected routes in the area. Next, the auditor should create accurate street maps that display all streets and intersections in the area.

How to Use

Local leaders, community planners, and residents should use this report to gain an understanding of the tools necessary to complete an accurate community walkability audit, focusing on local streets and intersections that may negatively impact the mobility of older adults in the area. The results of environmental audits can be very valuable to the community planning process and can often lead to improved mobility conditions for pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

View full report: Healthy Aging Research Network Environmental Audit Tool and Protocol (PDF – 500 KB)

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