DIFFERENTLY-ABLED AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

6 June 2018

DIFFERENTLY-ABLED AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – Architectural Barriers.

“Universal Design” refers to the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability” (Global Disability Act 2005) South African Building Regulations have adopted the principles of Universal Design.

 Businesses, Stores :- Architectural Barriers are physical features that limit or prevent people with disabilities from obtaining the goods or services that are offered.  They can include parking spaces that are too narrow to accommodate people who use wheelchairs, a step or steps at the entrance or to part of the selling space of a store, round doorknobs or door handles that are difficult to grasp – the “Closed Fist” test, for handles or controls – Try opening the door or operating the control using only one hand, held in a fist, if you can do it, so can a person who has limited use of his or her hands.  Then the aisles may be too narrow for a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, a walker or crutches.

High counters or narrow checkout aisles at a cash register, fixed tables in eating areas that are too low to accommodate a person using a wheelchair or if they have fixed seats that prevent a person using a wheelchair etc., from pulling themselves under the table.   In some cases, existing conditions, limited resources or both will make it not readily achievable, when this occurs, barrier removal measures may have to deviate in some areas so long as the measures do not pose a significant risk to the health or safety of individuals with disabilities or others.  Slippery floors,  highly polished floors in some stores are viewed by many as “scary” especially when they are continually being washed down during business hours.  The elderly are a case in point, or those who may have had a recent operation to their lower limbs. Store floors should only be washed down before and after business hours where possible and should be seen to be non-slip not polished to high gloss which is so often the case.

Another case in point is a medical centre – have so many times arrived to see the “wet floors” sign up, so am immediately apprehensive -   you are surely going in for a medical related problem, surely this should be the one place where all this should have been attended to before the public and patients arrive?

Each business must decide on a case-by-case basis what removal of barriers may be readily achievable, but in each and every case Accessibility should be a priority. Access from sidewalks, parking, transportation, especially for the elderly who come from retirement homes in buses, access to public toilet rooms.  Access to the areas where goods and services are as above.  Look around your store and be aware.

THE DIFFERENTLY-ABLED AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – next, more on Parking.                If you have a suggestion, please write to me – Rita Hardaker    ritav@global.co.za

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