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What You Should Know About Disabled Access

Mar 10, 2008
Having access to buildings and public areas is vitally important for people with disabilities. Not being able to use the bathroom or enter a particular building can be one of the most frustrating aspects of being disabled. It is often very simple to make somewhere accessible for a disabled person and making the small steps toward making it possible is extremely important. Legislation is in place that makes providing disabled access in all public buildings and workplaces essential and increasingly the new build properties are built with disabled access.

It is very rare that a house comes prepared for disabled use. Most housing does not come with disabled access as standard so most people that are disabled have to go about making improvements to their homes on their own. As a result much of the work that is done to the home is bespoke and specific to the needs of the individual concerned. There are some initiatives in place that are designed to encourage developers to include basic disabled access features in new buildings. Things like zero-step entries and wide doors for wheelchair access make houses accessible for the majority of people and as a result more people can travel freely into people's homes.

Great Britain is one of the best countries in the world for providing disabled access in the home. This is partly to do with legislation that has been passed by parliament. In 1999 a law was passed that detailed seven requirements for multifamily buildings which have more than four units. These seven requirements are:

1) There must be an accessible building entrance on an accessible route
2) The common and public use areas must be accessible to all
3) Wheelchair users must be able to use the doors
4) There must be a complete access route into and through the dwelling
5) Controls must be accessible. This includes thermostats, light switches, electrical outlets and environmental controls
6) Walls in the bathrooms must be reinforced so that they can cater for grab bars to be installed at a later date
7) The bathrooms and kitchens must be useable

The UK has a fairly advanced attitude to creating housing that is accessible for people with disabilities. Sadly the United States has not got such a stringent attitude to the problem. This is because the houses that Americans typically live in are not covered by the law. Most Americans live in single family homes that are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Fair Housing Act. The only houses covered and required to provide access are the government built housing areas which only accounts for a very small percentage of the total number of houses in the United States of America. This means that even new houses do not cater for disabled people and have very real accessibility issues. This means that even new houses face the problems that occur in old houses. It seems like this is in some way not making the most of the opportunity to make things accessible as standard.
About the Author
Shaun Parker investigates the various needs and requirements of people living life with a disability or loss of mobility due to illness, injury or old age. If you need disabled access then visit http://www.axess2.co.uk/
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