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Introduction

Persons with disabilities are often excluded from many events, services, information, communication, products and venues because during the planning phases all users were not considered. This can be prevented by applying Universal Design Principals during the design phase. Government Regulations have been put in place in South Africa and around the world to try to make public places more accessible to persons with disabilities, including persons with Mobility Impairments. These government regulations are known as Accessible Features and they are meant to ensure that accommodation and transport is accessible and that equal opportunities and rights are available for persons with disabilities. In the article below, we will discuss the Accessible Features that have been introduced in order to make public places more accessible to persons with Mobility Impairments, as well as the companies and organizations that can assist to secure: funding, accessibility, safety, equal opportunities and equal rights for persons with disabilities.

Effective civil rights legislation is sought in order to secure the rights & access to public areas such as city streets, public buildings and restrooms. A noticeable change recently in some parts of the world is the installation of elevators, automatic doors, wide doors and corridors, transit lifts, wheelchair ramps, curb cuts, and the elimination of unnecessary steps where ramps and elevators are not available, allowing persons who use wheelchairs and other Mobility Aids to use public sidewalks and public transit easier and safely.

The Government often makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & built with certain features to make them wheelchair friendly. These are known as The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, which was amended and published by the Department of Trade and Industry in May 2008. Some parts of the Act Part S deals with facilities for persons with disabilities and directly affected the building industry. They include information about:

  • Disabled Toilets
  • Ramps
  • Disabled Parking Bays
  • Disabled Bays in Movie Theaters, Sports stadiums & Music Concerts

Unfortunately many buildings and most houses in South Africa were not designed and built to accommodate wheelchair users or the elderly. The owners of these buildings and houses may therefore be challenged by the need to find architects and renovators familiar with accessible design issues in order to make them accessible. There are however various Organizations and Companies that can assist with Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. 

Organizations & Companies That Can Assist With Universal Design & Access

There are now various Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access and can advise you on how to adapt your building & environment to make sure that persons with disabilities have equal rights and no loss of dignity. The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting and Inclusive Design specialize in Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. These Organizations and Companies can assist in different ways including:NCPD Logo

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD): believe that this can be prevented by applying Universal Design Principals during the design phase and they therefor offer the following services to assist:

  • Workshops for architects, developers and other building professionals to develop an understanding of universal design and access.
  • Facilitating access audits for new or existing buildings; echo e-access for the natural and communication environment. Audits are followed by a report indicating shortfalls and recommendations.
  • Marketing of facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities

Contact Fanie Swanepoel or Danie Marais for more information on Tel: +27 11 452 2774 or email them on: fanies@ncpd.org.za or danie@ncpd.org.za

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The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA): (QASA) is a non-profit organisation (NPO 000-881) of Quadriplegics and Paraplegics living in South Africa. QASA’s mission is to be an effective “co-ordinating, policy-making and supporting organisation striving to prevent spinal cord injury and to improve the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics by securing resources to advocate, educate, capacitate, support and mobilise.”QuadPara Association of South Africa

QASA runs a number of Projects and Services and can assist with various issues relating to Universal Design & Access. The National Access Authority (NAA) provides a policing and advisory service for access issues and deals with access complaints and transgressions of the National Building Regulations. By promoting an accessible environment and taking to task, abuse of human rights, this project has ensured more accessible environments and promoted the concept of Universal design.

QASA is sustained by strategic relationships with corporates, social enterprise, the National Lottery Commission and a number of campaigns & events. Some of QASA’s projects generate revenue which services the essential non-revenue generating projects. Click on the link below to find out more about the Universal Design & Access services that they provide, or visit our Organizations - QASA Page to find out more about QASA & the other Projects & Services that they provide. You can also contact them through their website at www.qasa.co.za or read the article below to find out about Accessible Features & the other companies in South Africa that can assist you.

Read More: .....Bradshaw LeRoux

Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting: Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting conducts Environmental Accessibility Audits designed to identify environmental barriers that could hinder access for Persons with a Disability. Our consultants will review your site, note potential barriers from a functional and safety perspective, and  propose cost-effective solutions which can be actioned within short, medium and longer term time frames. Our reports are practical in nature, specific in the solutions offered, and allow for ease of use by all. Relevant to all environments, from corporate offices, manufacturing or industry sites, education facilities or hospitality environments, we can assist.

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Inclusive Design: is a company founded on the fundamentals of the South African Constitution and aims to serve as a driver of social inclusion for positive and effective change in the lives of people with diverse human needs. Our philosophy is guided by individual and shared needs of people and not that of special needs. Universal Design serves as a means in which to create and enhance the functionality of environments, services and products, for the widest range of users, recognizing diversity of the human condition. Inclusive Design as a company, recognises the importance of awareness raising and the dissemination of information on diversity and inclusion as an integral deliverable to achieve Universal Access and improving lives.Inclusive Design

What we do:

Inclusive Design serves as a mechanism to audit, review, design, create and advise on adaptations and/or enhancements for the functionality of environments, transport, technology, education, services and operations, and products for all users, to accommodate the full spectrum of human diversity. Inclusive Design specialises in providing practical, sensible advice on issues relating to Universal Access and works on the premise that environments, services and facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities are equitable in the eyes of the law, makes business sense, as well as being easier and more comfortable for all users, irrespective of their functional requirements.

1.    BUSINESS CONCEPT:

Inclusive Design works with clients to find viable, feasible means of incorporating universal design into their environments, services, facilities and products. In a field of consulting where amateurs are rife and claim expertise, Inclusive Design has gone to great lengths to prove their competency on an international level. Headed by a consultant who is the highest certified Universal Access Consultant in South Africa, as verified by IAAP (International Association of Access Professionals) and with a plenary of examples and experience, Inclusive Design delivers, on time with exceptionally detailed results and recommendations. We put effort into making reports and findings legible, easy to understand and implementable to enable clients to positively affect change to becoming universally accessible and inclusive.

Services:

Inclusive Design

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Universal Access Consulting:

Consulting serves to advise clients on the options, requirements and areas where Universal Access can and should be achieved. With experience and knowledge of both South African building regulations for Persons with Disabilities, supporting equality legislation and international access requirements, Inclusive Design makes for the perfect collaborator to achieve Universal Access. Our consulting services serve to impart knowledge with clients on aspects, features and implementation of Universal Access to increase awareness of the requirements of people with disabilities as well as the broader range of beneficiaries including, pregnant women, people with young children, elderly people and people with temporary disabilities or recovering from surgery.

As part of our consulting services we also offer specific research, skills transfer and mentorship related to Universal Access and assist our clients wherever possible to progress towards a viable, feasible and desirable means of implementation to achieve equality. In line with the social model of disability, our emphasis has shifted away from the concept of being ‘disability’ focused, to that of being focused on ‘Universal Access’, which acknowledges that the benefit thereof goes beyond the classification of people with disabilities. Universal Access Consulting can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)
  • systems, services and operations
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and systems
  • Policy development, reviews and updates

Universal Access Auditing:

Universal Access Consulting

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Auditing is the examination or inspection of various aspects of the environment, service, facility or product to determine compliance with local and/or international requirements. Audits are conducted through physical inspection and are followed by reports to indicate short-falls, areas of improvement and areas of non-compliance. Universal Access Auditing is largely conducted in the built environment in South Africa, where SANS 10400 Part S (2011): Facilities for Persons with Disabilities is the deem to satisfy requirement, which is supplemented with ISO21542 in areas where more details are required or environments which are more specialised. This process is detailed, and the audit is conducted meticulously and often includes discussions with users of the facility regarding usability, which leads to a custom report with bespoke recommendations for both built infrastructure and operations.

Inclusive Design also offers companies an advantage through a proprietary Universal Access Application™ which enables large areas of the built environment to be audited in a systematic, accurate, thorough and detailed process (for example: a campus). Saving clients time and money as the UA App captures vast amounts of data, with measurements, photo evidence and SANS 10400 Part S (2011) compliance in an easy to read, tabulated format, in a matter of days. This process conventionally takes a vast number of human hours to capture, process and write-up by a highly experience UA Auditor, but with the Universal Access App™ it is simplified, quickened, accurate and unbiased. 

Universal Access Auditing can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)- with the UA App™
  • systems, services and operation
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and system
  • policy and implementation plans

Universal Access Awareness:

Universal Access Audits & Reviews

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

The Great Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is our belief, at Inclusive Design, that by teaching principles of good design, that we can make a significant impact upon our society. It is therefore always a recommended deliverable in our work to transfer skills and educate others on Universal Design and Universal Access. The capacitation of more people with the knowledge and understanding of the value that inclusive design offers to staff, clients and society, is part of our vision and what we strive to achieve. What we term Universal Access Awareness, can be customised to the clients’ needs, and can vary from an introductory presentation to an in-depth training session on specific aspects. Universal Access cannot be achieved without at least the basic understanding of the paradigm that leads to equality.

Additional Services:

  • Disability Awareness Training (also known as Disability Awareness Training or Sensitisation)
  • Disability Specific Monitoring and Evaluation (Qualified M and E services)

Business Competitiveness:

Universal Access is a broad concept that requires understanding, application, implementation, experience and governance around various sectors, such as the built environment, services, facilities, transport, technology, regulations and more. Inclusive Design has explicit experience in Policy, Guideline and Framework writing and advising, Technical Requirement writing, Implementation Plans, Onsite Auditing, Plan Drawing Auditing, Architectural and Planning Consulting, Auditing and Consulting in the realms of Transport, Marketing and Communication, and Training. Inclusive Design is not focused on a specific area of disability, and therefore offer holistic recommendations in order to accommodate a spectrum of users, irrespective of their abilities. Inclusive Design practice good business principles, deliver on time, communicate directly with clients, and offer superior project deliverables.

If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at Inclusive Design on Tel: +27 72 027 3623 or Email: colette@inclusivedesign.co.za Cape Town (HQ) ● Pretoria (Administration), or visit our website at: www.inclusivedesign.co.za

These Organizations and Companies listed above which specialize in Universal Design and Access will follow those standards set by  "The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act" to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues.

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act

Some laws regarding Persons with disabilities, which are stated in "The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act" include:

  1. Persons with disabilities should be able to safely enter the building (Ramps) and be able to safely use all the facilities within it – specifically toilets. (Disabled Toilets)
  2. There must be a means of access that is suitable for people with disabilities to use. In addition, access must be available from various approaches of the building via the main entrance and any secondary entrances, and should lead to the ground floor.
  3. There must be a means of egress (a point of departure) that is suitable for people with disabilities to use in the event of any sort of emergency. This relates to any sort of emergency, but in addition, a further clause states that departure routes (or egress) must also be designed in accordance with Part T of the regulations, namely the section that relates to Fire Protection.
  4. Lifts in buildings must be able to serve the needs of disabled people. This includes ensuring that any commonly used “path of travel” MUST be free of any sort of obstacles that would limit, restrict or endanger people with disabilities who use that route. There must also be absolutely no obstacles that will prevent people with disabilities from accessing facilities within the building. The regulations refer specifically to people with impaired vision, but clearly they also relate to people in wheelchairs, or people who have trouble walking freely.
  5. Buildings that incorporate halls or auditoriums for public use are obliged to ensure that a reasonable percentage of space is available for people in wheelchairs or other “assistive devices”. (Disabled Bays in Movie Theaters, Sports stadiums & Music Concerts)
  6. The National Building Regulations also state that where there is parking available for more than 50 motor vehicles, there must  be parking facilities that accommodate disabled persons. There is also an obligation to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with a suitable means of access from the parking area to the ground floor – or storey – of the building. (Disabled Parking Bays)

Signagedisabled parking sign

The International Symbol of Access (ISA), also known as the (International) Wheelchair Symbol, consists of a blue square overlaid in white with a stylized image of a wheelchair. It is maintained as an international standard, ISO 7001 image of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA)

The symbol is often seen where access has been improved, particularly for wheelchair users, but also for other disability issues. Frequently, the symbol shows the removal of environmental barriers, such as steps, to help the disabled, elderly, parents with baby carriages, and travellers. Universal design aims to obviate such symbols by creating products and facilities that are accessible to nearly all users from the start. The wheelchair symbol is "International" and therefore not accompanied by Braille in any particular language.

Specific uses of the ISA include:

  • Marking a parking space reserved for vehicles used by people with disabilities/blue badge holders
  • Marking a vehicle used by a person with a disability, often for permission to use a space
  • Marking a public lavatory with facilities designed for wheelchair users
  • Indicating a button to activate an automatic door
  • Indicating an accessible transit station or vehicle
  • Indicating a transit route that uses accessible vehicles

Providing clear and visible marking by using this accessible disabled sign is essential in making facilities visible for those who need them. The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations therefore makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & build with a certain regulations, which includes regulations on Signage.

Facilities that are included in a building specifically for use by persons with disabilities, such as wheelchair-accessible parking spaces, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and platform or stair lifts, shall be indicated by the international symbol for access.

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Disabled Toiletsdisabled toilets

An accessible toilet is a special toilet designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities. They are sometimes known as Disabled Toilets.

Public toilets can present accessibility challenges for people with disabilities, such as those people in wheelchairs. Stalls may not be able to fit a wheelchair, and transferring between the wheelchair and the toilet seat may pose a challenge. Accessible toilets are designed to address these issues by providing more space and bars for users to grab and hold during transfers.

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & build with a certain amount of Disabled Toilets.

In any building where facilities for persons with disabilities are required in terms of Regulation S1 (see annex A), there shall be one or more toilets or unisex toilet facilities suitable for use by wheelchair users.

People with disabilities should be able to safely enter the building (Ramps) and be able to safely use all the facilities within it – specifically toilets.

These Disabled Toilets:

  • follow certain regulations
  • Need larger floor space than other cubicles to allow space for a wheelchair to maneuver. This space is also useful for people who are not necessarily wheelchair users, but still need physical support from someone else.
  • Have a wheelchair-height changing table is also recommended, but remains rarely available. Accessible changing tables are low and accessible to a wheelchair user, and long enough for a caretaker to change an older child or adult with a disability.
  • Have a wheelchair-height toilet, to help the user on and off the toilet, with handles (grab bars)
  • Have an emergency alarm, in the form of a red cord that reaches the ground, connected to a buzzer and a flashing red light
  • Have a wheelchair-height sink and hand dryer.
  • Have wheelchair-width doors leading to it, allowing sufficient space for a wheelchair when a door is open.

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Ramps

A wheelchair ramp is an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps permit wheelchair users, as well as people pushing strollers, carts, or other wheeled objects, to more easily access a building.

A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood.ramps

Ramps must be carefully designed in order to be useful. Many jurisdictions have established minimum widths and maximum slopes. A less steep rise can be easier for a wheelchair user to navigate, as well as safer in wet or icy conditions.

The South African National Standard for Building Regulations state that Wheelchair ramps (or other ways for wheelchair users to access a building, such as a wheelchair lift) are required in new construction for public accommodations in South Africa. They also state that these wheelchair Lifts & Ramps must meet certain regulations & requirements.

People with disabilities should be able to safely enter the building (Ramps) and be able to safely use all the facilities within it – specifically toilets. (Disabled Toilets)

There must be a means of access that is suitable for people with disabilities to use. In addition, access must be available from various approaches of the building via the main entrance and any secondary entrances, and should lead to the ground floor.

There must be a means of egress (a point of departure) that is suitable for people with disabilities to use in the event of any sort of emergency. This relates to any sort of emergency, but in addition, a further clause states that departure routes (or egress) must also be designed in accordance with Part T of the regulations, namely the section that relates to Fire Protection.

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Disabled Parking Bays & Disabled Parking Discs

One of the many "Accessible Features" that the government has introduced, is "Wheelchair Parking." The Government has introduced certain regulation that state, how many of these "Wheelchair Parking Bays" must be available & the size of the "Wheelchair Parking Bays"

The National Building Regulations state that where there is parking available for more than 50 motor vehicles, there must  be parking facilities that accommodate disabled persons. There is also an obligation to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with a suitable means of access from the parking area to the ground floor – or storey – of the building.

These parking bays are not only close to the entrance, but are also wider than the disabled parking placeaverage parking bay. Wheelchair parking bays are traditionally 3500mm wide to cater for a wheelchair user who needs the extra space to enter or exit the vehicle, thus enabling:

  • a wheelchair user to transfer into their wheelchair from their car.
  • It enables the helper of a severely disabled person to park the wheelchair next to the car so that they can lift the person from the car and place him into the wheelchair.
  • It also enables the helper of a severely disabled person to offload a person from a kombi in a wheelchair down ramps or with a wheelchair lift.

By having this extra space helps these transfers to be done safely for the wheelchair user & helps prevent the vehicle in the parking space next door from getting damaged.

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Accessible Routes & Doorways

An important part of accessibility is not only accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zones, ramps, Disabled Toilets & Lifts, etc but also insuring that there are various accessible routes from the public streets onto the pavements & to the accessible building entrance and to the facilities inside the building & visa versa. Appropriate accessible routes should also be made available for emergency exits. Accessible Routes include:

  • Ramps on & off the pavement
  • Wide enough walkways for a variety of size wheelchairs
  • No obstacles on these pathways
  • Wide doorways & turning areas, etc.

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations passes  laws that insure that new buildings & structures are designed & build with a certain regulations, which includes regulations on Accessible Routes.

There must be a means of access that is suitable for people with disabilities to use. In addition, access must be available from various approaches of the building via the main entrance and any secondary entrances, and should lead to the ground floor.

There must be a means of egress (a point of departure) that is suitable for people with disabilities to use in the event of any sort of emergency. This relates to any sort of emergency, but in addition, a further clause states that departure routes (or egress) must also be designed in accordance with Part T of the regulations, namely the section that relates to Fire Protection.

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Lifts

Thanks partly to the disability rights movement we have seen an improvement in building accessibility. With the installation of elevators or lifts buildings are now accessible even for those in a wheelchairs.

A lift (or elevator) is a form of vertical transportation between building floors, levels or decks, commonly used in offices, public buildings and other types of multi-storey accommodation. Lifts can be essential for providing vertical circulation, particularly in tall buildings, for wheelchair and other non-ambulant building users and for the vertical transportation of goods. Some lifts may also be used for firefighting and evacuation purposes.

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations therefore makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & build with a certain regulations, which includes Lifts & the regulations set aside for these Lifts.

There must be a means of egress (a point of departure) that is suitable for people with disabilities to use in the event of any sort of emergency. This relates to any sort of emergency, but in addition, a further clause states that departure routes (or egress) must also be designed in accordance with Part T of the regulations, namely the section that relates to Fire Protection.

Lifts in buildings must be able to serve the needs of disabled people. This includes ensuring that any commonly used “path of travel” MUST be free of any sort of obstacles that would limit, restrict or endanger people with disabilities who use that route. There must also be absolutely no obstacles that will prevent people with disabilities from accessing facilities within the building. The regulations refer specifically to people with impaired vision, but clearly they also relate to people in wheelchairs, or people who have trouble walking freely.

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Disabled Seating In Auditoriums, Grandstands & Halls

In South Africa & around the world buildings such as Auditoriums, grandstands, halls & sports stadiums are made wheelchair friendly by adding among other things, wheelchair platforms, so that wheelchair users can enjoy the event from their wheelchairs & also have a clear view of the stage, field, screen, etc.sports stands

Buildings where these "platforms" are build include:

  • Movie Theaters
  • Sports Stadiums
  • Music Concerts, etc

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations  makes laws that insure that these type of buildings are designed & build with these wheelchair bays/platforms & that they meet certain regulations.

Buildings that incorporate halls or auditoriums for public use are obliged to ensure that a reasonable percentage of space is available for people in wheelchairs or other “Assistive Devices”. (Disabled Bays in Movie Theaters, Sports stadiums & Music Concerts)

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Links

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References

Gold Level Advert
NCPD
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA)
Bradshaw leRoux
Inclusive Design

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