The Commission for Architecture and Built Environment has issued a challenge to all public service providers who are affected by the new Disability Discrimination Act, the final phase of which came into force this month, to follow the example of some of Britain’s leading architects in tackling the issue of ‘inclusive’ buildings.The terms of the Act mean that organisations providing a service to the public have to make reasonable adjustments to their premises. That might include providing level access, widening aisles or changing management practices so that no disabled person is prevented from accessing their service.
CABE has cited a number of public buildings that it believes are examples of best practice. They range from The Treasury to the City of Manchester Stadium and from new visitor facilities at the Tower of London to the public areas of the Bull Ring shopping complex in Birmingham.
Richard Simmons, the Chief Executive, CABE, said, good design was accessible design and if everyone’s needs were considered from the outset of a scheme the requirements of people with disabilities could be integrated rather than making special provisions.
He said a number of architects were becoming increasingly adept at finding innovative solutions that did not compromise the historical or architectural integrity of a building. “This new Act means built environment professionals everywhere are going to have to challenge the way they work. Design for people with disabilities is much more than ramps, handrails and turning circles. No environment can be deemed to be well-designed if not everyone can use it,” he added.
CABE is planning to increase the knowledge of its own staff and will be encouraging further improvements through its Design Review, Enabling and CABE Space programmes.