Drive to improve accessibility for country's 12m disabled people

04 December 2013

Improving accessibility for the country’s 12million disabled people should become a requirement of all built environment courses at universities and colleges, six leading professional institutions have announced.

Following International Day of Disabled People, (December 3), built environment institutions including The Royal Town Planning Institute, The Royal Institution of British Architects and The British Institution of Facilities Managers have signed up to the Built Environment Professional Education Project.

The success of London 2012 ‘the most accessible Games ever’ has stimulated a drive to ensure that all buildings, places and spaces are designed inclusively in future. The project is being funded by Department for Work and Pensions, Greater London Authority and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Within 10 years nearly one third of all built environment professionals will be proficient in inclusive design.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Civil Engineers have also signed up to the project.

Analysis following the Games shows that 59% of disabled visitors were positive about overall access in London with 55% positive about accessible facilities in public areas. Nationally studies highlight the buildings where disabled people have the most difficulties with accessibility; shops (54%), hospitals (34%) and bars and restaurants (23%).

Minister of State for Disabled People, Mike Penning said:

"Last year’s Paralympics truly captivated the hearts of the nation and have undoubtedly helped shift attitudes and perceptions towards disabled people.

"That also included recognising that disabled people should be able to have the same access to buildings and sporting stadiums as everyone else - which we saw with the award-winning Olympic Stadium where so many memories were made.

"I want to see the architects and planners of the future be able to put accessibility at the heart of their designs - and I'll be working with professional bodies and academics to make that happen."

Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning said:

“The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were widely recognised as the most inclusive ever and one way we achieved that was through the design of the venues and the Park.

We set ourselves the highest standards of inclusive design and now we are building on that success to ensure that accessibility is at the heart of education for all built environment professionals.”

Lord Coe said:

“The focus of this project on training and education will mean a lasting Paralympic legacy which will inspire future generations of built environment professionals to achieve truly accessible and inclusive environments for everyone.”

Accessibility at the Olympic Park included accessible routes through and to the park, accessible public transport, the Games mobility scheme, the volunteers and the management that made the Games the most accessible ever.

Other points of interest include viewing areas for wheelchair users, easily accessible spacious toilet facilities, including Changing Places toilets for people who need the extra space, a changing bench and hoist.

By developing market leading Inclusive Design Standards and working with older and disabled people from the initial planning phases through to legacy, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has become one of the most accessible places in a major world city.

Research shows inclusive design can have a significant impact on GDP suggested a potential boost of up to 1.8 per cent - but currently less than 10 per cent of university academics include it as part of their assessment criteria. Initial research indicated that 100 per cent of academics surveyed agree that it is important for students to understand the need for inclusive design.

With all major built environment professional bodies due to review their curriculum in the next five years, there is a 'golden opportunity' to include changes as part of this.

Almost 20% of the UK population is disabled (around 12m), and the disability ‘purple pound’ is worth £80 billion to the GB economy.

SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS:

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) “The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) feels passionately that improving accessibility for disabled people forms a critical curricular element for all those involved in studying the built environment; we are proud therefore to support this wider industry drive. We will be working to develop criteria referencing inclusive design as part of our work with all recognised RIBA schools of architecture around the world to help lead this critical aspect of the design process. Building on the all-inclusive design ethos of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we will actively promote the design and management of future spaces with accessibility and good design at their core to the next generation of architects, engineers, and planners.”

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) said: “The Institution of Civil Engineers is pleased to support this initiative. London 2012 demonstrated that built environment professionals can work together to provide facilities that are inclusive for a wide variety of needs across the whole population. The challenge now is to embed this in the education and training of all professionals. ICE will be working with sister organisations, members and stakeholders to make this a reality.”

British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) said: “We are delighted to support this great initiative. This follows the fantastic success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games which were considered to be the most accessible games ever held. The BIFM look forward to working with partner institutes to ensure that the access needs of elderly and disabled people are met to achieve inclusive access for all. BIFM have been supporting members understand the importance of inclusive access for many years. This support is crucial as facilities managers are at the forefront of making their buildings accessible to all; their role helps improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through improved access and workplace conditions.”

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said: “RICS is delighted to lend its support to the Built Environment Professional Education Project, and to serve on the BEPE Advisory Board. As the leading professional body in land, property and construction, we welcome all efforts to equip built environment professionals with the knowledge and expertise to ensure inclusive design.”

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) said: “The RTPI is very keen to see inclusive design embedded in the built environment professions and looks forward to working with partners to ensure we have a lasting Paralympic Legacy.”

Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) said: “The London Olympics and Paralympics set a new benchmark for better access to the built environment for disabled people. The challenge now is to take the lessons learned and improve training and education so that this does not remain a shining beacon of success but becomes the norm. The Chartered Institute of Building is delighted to support this initiative.”

Reading University said: “The legacy of the London Games, which carried inclusive design to a new level, must be part of main stream construction thinking - integrating inclusive design into all of professional construction education is an excellent way to make this happen.”

 

 

 

Notes to editors

 

• The Life Opportunities Survey highlight the buildings where disabled people have the most difficulties with accessibility; shops (54%), hospitals (34%) and bars and restaurants (23%).

• Canadian and Australian studies of inclusive design have shown it can have a significant impact on GDP. A Canadian study in Ontario has suggested a potential boost of up to 1.8 per cent - but currently less than 10 per cent of university academics include it as part of their assessment criteria.

• The GLA consumer research (link below) says that 59% of visitors were positive about overall access, 55% positive about accessible facilities in public areas.

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Consumer%20Research%20Report.pdf