Access > Guidelines > Accessible Design
Even though persons with disability form 70 million of the Indian population, their needs are seldom kept in mind while designing physical environments – whether it is buildings, public transport, civic development, etc. The same dismal scenario is repeated in cities around the world.
The Concept of Universal Design
Universal Design is different than Accessible Design. Accessible design means products and buildings that are accessible and usable by people with disabilities. Universal design means products and buildings that are accessible and usable by everyone, including people with disabilities. Although these different definitions appear to be simply semantic, they actually have significant differences in meaning.
Accessible design has a tendency to lead to separate facilities
for people with disabilities, for example, a ramp set off to the side of a stairway
at an entrance or a wheelchair accessible toilet stall. Universal design, on
the other hand, provides one solution that can accommodate people with disabilities
as well as the rest of the population. Moreover, universal design means giving
attention to the needs of older people as well as young, women as well as men,
left handed persons as well as right handed persons.
An entrance that is designed to be "universal" would not have stairs at all. Instead of only one toilet stall designed for people who use wheelchairs, a toilet room with a universal design might include more than one stall with larger space clearances and perhaps additional facilities such as a changing table for babies. Instead of providing accessibility to only a men's and a women's toilet room there might also be a "family" toilet room, one in which men can take their young daughters or older mother and women can take their young sons or older father without embarrassment. This bathroom could also accommodate people with a wide range of physical limitations.
Over the last several years there has been a growing interest in universal design as an alternative to accessible design.
Planning and access for disabled people: a good practice guide
This good practice guide is produced by the UK government,
and stems from a recommendation of the Disability Rights Task Force.
The guide describes how all those involved in the development process can play their part in delivering physical environments which can be used by everyone. It encourages local planning authorities and developers to consider access for disabled people, and stresses the importance of early consultation with disabled people, when formulating development plans and preparing planning applications.
It also explains the relevant legislation and policy frameworks, shows how local planning authorities can put in place appropriate planning policies and development control processes, and suggests ways in which these can be implemented and enforced effectively. It pinpoints the role of developers and occupiers and underlines the benefits to them in providing environments which are accessible and inclusive.