The physical environment is the space in which people with a disability participate in the public sphere. The community provides a suitable unit of analysis for investigating the interaction between the physical environment and persons with a disability because it is the common space in which public participation is played out. The places, physical features, structures and objects that constitute the physical environment bear the inscription of the social, political and economic environments. The physical environment reciprocally influences the social, political and economic environments, as well as the perceptions of participants in the public sphere. Community receptivity is a concept that links the physical and social environment in relation to community readiness to support the public participation of persons with a disability. Results of a recent community-based program of research in the USA that developed and tested measures of community receptivity to people with a physical mobility limitation are reported. Implications of this research are discussed together with suggestions for future research.