New national guidelines will benefit the 8.5million disabled people in Britain who use all kinds of buildings, including shops, cinemas and offices.
The British Standards Institution says that many buildings are not 'disabled-friendly', and its new standard should be taken into account when designing buildings or planning improvements.
David Lazenby, Director of British Standards, said: "Disabled-unfriendly buildings are an issue - for example, there are more than half a million wheelchair users in the UK, but so many buildings don't have wheelchair access or designated parking bays. We have produced new guidelines to help improve this situation."
The British Standard, BS 8300:2001, is a source of best practice for architects, builders, and facilities managers. It encourages innovative design solutions for different types of building, including homes, shops and theatres. In the next few months, BSI will also be publishing a CD-ROM version of BS 8300 with spoken text.
David Lazenby added: "Our new code of practice is presented in an innovative style - with a commentary giving designers and specifiers helpful prompts on the special problems faced by people with different disabilities. This is all part of our aim in developing standards across a wide range of areas to benefit society."
Health and Safety Minister Alan Whitehead said: "This new British Standard encourages innovative design solutions. Its recommendations include the results of a major ergonomic research project commissioned by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The new standard will be a major input to our current review of Part M of the building regulations."
In the year 2004, new disability rules will come into force in the form of the Disability Discrimination Act, and BS 8300 is aimed to support this legislation.
Maria Eagle, the UK Minister for Disabled People, said: "One of the most important tasks for twenty-first century Britain is to unlock the talents and potential of all our citizens. We want to make our society one in which opportunities extend to all. There are 8.5 million disabled people in the UK who must be fully included in society. Guidelines like these from the BSI play an important part in working towards a society that is truly inclusive."
Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission said: "The Disability Rights Commission welcomes these new guidelines, as access is a key issue for many disabled people. Not only wheelchair users have difficulties using shops or offices or public buildings, but also people with a wide range of other mobility impairments, as well as those with visual or hearing impairments. What makes this particular access standard stand out from others is that it's based on extensive research amongst disabled people. I hope that these guidelines will be accepted and used throughout the country, so that 8.5 million disabled people can fully participate in every day activities that non-disabled people take for granted."
CONTACT BSI PRESS OFFICE:
Wilma Tulloch on +44 (0)20 8996 6330 OR
Marc Edney on +44 (0)20 8996 6330