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Access Unlimited
  Paul Houghton
  • Approximately 11 million people live with an impairment in the UK today recognised by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • 8.6 million people (aged 16 and over) self declare as disabled UK  (15% of the UK population)
  • Only 8% of disabled people in the UK use a wheelchair
  • The projected figure for disability in 2030 is 18 million plus
  • The ILO estimates that there are 610 million disabled people worldwide
  • Four hundred million disabled people live in the world's developing countries


  • 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


Since December 1996, it has been unlawful for service providers to:-
refuse to serve a disabled person, offer a lower standard of service, provide a service on worse terms to a disabled person for a reason related to his or her impairment

Since October 1999, service providers have had to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the way they provide their services.

Since October 2004, service providers may have to make improvements to their premises. These are sensible changes that are helping make the built environment accessible to all.

By under taking an Access audit the management can be seen as trying to comply with DDA 1995.

Benefits of Inclusive Design
We can help your business to promote a social Inclusive environment.
I offer a free consultation within the county of Essex; let me show you the benefits of having a fully accessible organisation.
Disabled people have money in their pockets and they are all taxpayers. It is estimated that disabled people have at least £60 billion a year to spend and, of course, they can only spend their money on goods and services that they can access.

Improving access to services for disabled people improves access to services for everyone and is about basic good customer service.
By welcoming disabled customers you welcome all customers. If your business is easy for disabled people to use you are likely to get more customers, disabled people, their family and friends and others who find your business more customer friendly.
This may well also give you the edge over the competition and enhance your reputation.



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The advice on this site can be used as a guide for user friendly considerations, however its use for compliance to the DDA 1995, does not give immunity from legal obligations set out in the Codes of Practice British Standards or Building Regulations.

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