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Introduction

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

The South African National Standard for Building Regulations

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 & built with 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.

Unfortunately many buildings in South Africa still do not have adequate signage, the owners of these buildings and houses may therefore need advice from Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access. There are 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 include compliant signage 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), Inclusive Design and Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting 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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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 all signage is accessible to persons with disabilities.

Signage Regulations

4.2 Signage

4.2.1 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 (see figure 1) and shall comply with 4.2.2 and 4.2.4. The international symbol shall be exhibited

  1. at the main entrance of, and at any other suitable position in, a building, and
  2. in suitable positions to indicate to persons with disabilities the route to the exit of such facilities.

4.2.2 The sign used to indicate facilities provided for persons with disabilities shall be the SANS 1186-1 type designation GA 22 (allocated to or accessible to wheelchairs) sign. Such signage shall comply with the requirements of SANS 1186-1 and shall have a symbol height of not less than 110 mm.

4.2.3 Facilities that are not in accordance with the requirements of this part of SANS 10400 shall not bear the international symbol.

NOTE 1: The symbol is the property of the International Standards Office and its use can only be sanctioned where the minimum requirements of the National Building Regulations have been complied with.

NOTE 2: Signs should be in clear, visible and tactile format to ensure that persons with visual impairments are also fully informed. In buildings where persons with visual impairments work or live, evacuation instructions in large print and Braille should be provided, so that persons with visual impairments can familiarize themselves with escape routes.

4.2.4 Clear legible signs shall indicate the direction and name of an accessible facility and shall incorporate the international symbol. The height of the lettering shall not be less than 50 mm.

Where the viewing distance is greater than 10 m, the height of the lettering shall be increased accordingly (see table 1).

Table 1 — Height of lettering in relation to viewing distance

Viewing distance meters Height mm
25  80
30  100
40  140
 50  160

To enable persons with impaired vision to read location signs adjacent to doors or directional signs on walls, the signs should be placed at a height of between 1,4 m and 1,7 m above finished floor level.

NOTE Raised letters and symbols, in contrasting light and dark colours, on identification or location signs assist those who are blind or have impaired vision.

All internal signage to indicate escape routes in case of total blackout shall comply with the requirements of SANS 10400-T.

4.2.5 For demarcating parking areas for wheelchair users, signs should be not less than 2,0 m vertically above driveway level, so that the sign can be seen whilst driving a car.

4.2.6 Where electronic aids are installed to assist persons with hearing loss, a suitable sign shall be displayed to indicate such facilities.

4.2.7 Any mark or sign shall comply with the relevant requirements of SANS 1186-1.

Links

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References

Silver Level Membership
National Council of & for Persons with Disabilities
Inclusive Design