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GOVERNMENT SEEKS VIEWS OF DISABLED PEOPLE ON BUILDINGS FOR THE FUTURE

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The views of people with disabilities, their carers and the construction industry are being sought by government ah...
The views of people with disabilities, their carers and the construction industry are being sought by government ahead of its revision of the building regulations covering disabled access and facilities.

The aim of the initiative is to improve people's quality of life through promoting sustainable development by making buildings easier for disabled people and others to use.

Questionnaires and seminars are to be used to find out what is thought of the current regulations and what changes need to be made in the future.

The survey will look at whether to extend the regulations to new areas, such as car parks, where the needs of disabled people could be met by attention to improving aspects of design.

Other areas covered will include circumstances in which changes may need to be made to existing buildings, how the future Regulations can work in unison with the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), and whether a wider remit should be drawn up to include the needs of children, women with pushchairs, and even people with a fear of heights.

The consultation is also being carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is a unique opportunity for the public to influence future decisions on how the building regulations can help create a more accessible built environment.

The seminars are being held in Scotland (Perth) 27 June, Belfast 4 July, London 11 July & 20 July, Manchester 13 July and Cardiff 19 July. Spaces are still available and people interested in attending should contact The Camden Consultancy.

The questionnaire is available by downloading a copy from the Internet at http://www.construction.detr.gov.uk/conidex.htm, or by writing, telephoning, faxing or e-mailing the Camden Consultancy, 2 St Martins, Bayham St, London NW1 0BD. Tel & fax. 020 7485 6275 or e-mail camdenconsult@compuserve.com.uk. An audio tape version can be provided for people with impaired sight.

Notes

1. Since 1992 the building regulations part m on provisions for disabled access and facilities (Part T in Scotland, Part R in NI) in non-domestic buildings have remained unchanged, although the regulations were extended in October 1999 to cover new domestic dwellings, as well as non-domestic buildings). The government is now proposing a review of the original non-domestic sections of Part M.

2. The building regulations ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings by providing functional requirements for building design and construction.

An overall aim of the DETR is to improve the environment and to improve people's quality of life through promoting sustainable development. Making buildings easier

for disabled people to use by providing minimum legal standards in the building regulations can contribute to meeting the needs of disabled people and improving their quality of life.

Current standards cover aspects of access and use of new buildings by people in wheelchairs and also those who have difficulty walking or whose hearing and sight are impaired. However, much of the built environment is not fully accessible or designed with disabled people's needs in mind. Well considered revision of the Regulations could help to improve the situation.

3. The designers and developers who will plan for disabled people and bear any extra cost of improvements in building will be consulted as well as the building users who will benefit. Costs and benefits must be weighed against each other, particularly as

the Regulations are likely to set the levels of improvements to which buildings should conform under the DDA (1995), when goods and services are offered for sale after 2004.

4. The DETR has commissioned consultants (The Camden Consultancy) to undertake an initial survey before launching a full consultation on a proposed revision.

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