Disability is estimated to affect 10 percent to 20 percent of every country's population, a percentage that is expected to grow because of poor health care and nutrition early in life, growing elderly populations and violent civil conflicts
39 million disabled people in Europe
400 million disabled people live in the developing world
Disabled people, their friends and family form a significant market: 1 in 4 people are disabled or close to someone who is
- Total spending power of disabled people is estimated at between £45 - 50 billion
- 5% of cars bought each year - 130,000 - are for use by disabled people
- Fewer than 10% of service providers said that costs of introducing changes to benefit disabled customers outweighed the benefits
- Group most likely to spend online in the UK
- Average cost of adjustment in workplace was £184 per disabled employee over last year
- After the next most cited barrier was supervisor knowledge of how to make adjustments (32% in US and 24% in UK)
- In a recent study 75% of employers stated that there was no cost per disabled employee for adaptations
- By the year 2010 40% of the UK population will be over 45 - the age at which incidence of disability increases
- By 2006, 45 - 59 year olds will form the largest group in the labour force
- The over 50s account for one fifth of the UK population, own more than 80 per cent of the country's asset wealth and are the group most likely to vote in general elections
- 33% of 50 - 60 year olds have disability
Source: International Labour Organisation
Creating a fully accessible built environment is an unquestionably critical issue for the quality of life of many individuals and groups in society.
Often individuals are faced with barriers because their access issues have not been anticipated. With due recourse to technology and knowledge, such "anticipation" by architects, planners and builders can become the norm rather than an optional extra. A segregated design approach not only leads to discrimination but can heighten the economic costs of adaptive access.
Reassuringly and significantly, strides have been made to create a more inclusive built environment in Britain. Many of the mechanisms to achieve "Inclusive Design" are now embedded in practice under-pinned by new legislation and new conceptual thinking. Nonetheless there is little scope for laurel resting; training of professionals within institutions, for instance planners, highway engineers, architects, surveyors is paramount in enforcing continuity. A focussing of society's values and attitudes is at the heart of the process as is the manner in which individual institutions are able to interpret the legislation. Clearly education and training remain at the heart of the disability access process. A consultative, communicative and collaborative strategy led by, rather than for, disabled people seems to offer the most promising prospect for creating functional rather than dysfunctional space.
"… if all of my access needs are met all of the time, then I am no longer Disabled".
© Aindre Reece-Sheerin 2002