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1 Inter-American Development Bank OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES ON ACCESSIBILITY IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS WITH UNIVERSAL DESIGN PRINCIPLES Eduardo Alvarez and Verônica Camisão Authors José Brakarz and Tomás Engler Editors Vinicius Voguel Illustration Xavier García-Milà, Claudia Sánchez and María del Socorro Núñez Collaborators

2 INDEX PRESENTATION 1 DEFINITIONS.. 2 INTRODUCTION. 5 MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THESE GUIDELINES.. 11 CONCEPTUAL RECOMMENDATIONS METHODOLOGICAL RECOMMENDATIONS 13 STEP BY STEP: WHAT TO PRIORITIZE 14 ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR ACCESSIBILITY PROJECTS. 23 OPERATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCLUSIVE PROJECTS.. 25 GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS.. 50 TECHNICAL SUPPORT. 51 ANNEX I: RIO DE JANEIRO DECLARATION ANNEX II: SUPPLEMENTARY DOCUMENTATION. 57

3 PRESENTATION AIM The general aim of these operational guidelines is to facilitate the incorporation of accessibility with universal design principles into the preparation phase of urban development, building and public transportation projects. The guidelines seek to provide conceptual and technical information for professionals who are responsible for new initiatives. The ultimate aim is to facilitate the analysis and design of projects, which focus on access to services and environments and interaction with the same for a greater number of people, independently of their physical or sensory characteristics. This manual serves as an orientation document, offering a general view of issues related to the implementation of accessibility. The principles, parameters and technical recommendations listed in this document are based on the Regional Technical Standards of COPANT (Pan-American Commission on Technical Standards) and these must take precedence where no local, more stringent accessibility standards exist. 1

4 DEFINITIONS Wherever there is reference to any of the terms listed below, these should be understood according to the following definitions: ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF ACCESSIBILITY An acceptable or adapted level of accessibility is one which meets all applicable functional criteria and dimensional parameters for accessibility, with a view to achieving use by all people in the safest and most independent and comfortable manner possible. ACCESSIBILITY Accessibility in a general sense is a feature which allows an environment, object or instrument to be used safely by all people in the most equitable, independent and comfortable manner possible. APPROACH AREA A barrier-free space which allows any person including people with reduced mobility, wheelchair users and people using other technical aids to manoeuvre, approach, orient themselves and use tools and equipment safely and in the most equitable, independent and comfortable manner possible. ARCHITECTURAL, URBAN DESIGN, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNICATION BARRIER Any natural, installed, built or virtual element which impedes movement in a space or approach to tools, equipment or furniture. Such an obstacle might also impede transfer, perception or communication (direct, mechanical, electronic or digital). BASIC LEVEL OF ACCESSIBILITY A basic or workable level of accessibility is one which meets the minimum functional criteria and dimensional parameters for accessibility, with a view to achieving use by all people in the safest and most independent and comfortable manner possible. CONVERTIBILITY The feature of an environment, object or instrument which allows it to be adapted to suit specified accessibility conditions. CONVERTIBLE LEVEL OF ACCESSIBILITY A convertible level of accessibility is one which allows the environment to reach an acceptable or basic level of accessibility through minimal adaptation which has already been worked into the design. CURB RAMP The lowered part of a pavement or curb which facilitates access, easing the transition between the level of the pavement and the level of the street. ERGONOMICS The discipline which investigates human behaviour, habits, limitations and other characteristics and applies this information in the design of environments, tools, objects and machinery to ensure productive, safe, comfortable and effective human use. Ergonomics seeks to optimize the interaction between human beings, physical space and the objects, tools and equipment which are part of any human activity within a given environment. 2

5 MIXED PEDESTRIAN ROUTE A route which allows a pedestrian with reduced mobility to move around with the use of a technical transportation aid or device. MODAL INTERCHANGES These are spaces intended to facilitate a change in the means of transport or a person s means of movement, e.g. bus stops and bus terminals, train stops and train terminals and airports. PEDESTRIAN ROUTE A route which allows for the horizontal movement of pedestrians with a possible change of levels and which meets all applicable accessibility criteria and parameters. ROUTE An external or internal walkway which may be horizontal or may involve a change of levels. SAFE ZONE Also called a rescue area, this is an accessible location which allows occupants to wait in safety while an emergency situation is resolved or attended to. TACTILE FLOOR A surface characterized by a difference in texture relative to the adjacent floor intended to serve as a warning or a guide perceptible to people who are visually impaired. TECHNICAL STANDARD The collection of technical directions, which establishes guidelines and restrictions for the development of technical products or guidelines for specific activities. A technical standard is the consolidated result of a universal process based on science, technology and experience and applied by a recognized standardization body. The standards referred to in this document are taken from the following bodies: ISO International Standardization Organization the international body responsible for dialogue between national standardization bodies COPANT Pan-American Commission for Technical Standards (Comisión Panamericana de Normas Técnicas) UNIT Uruguayan Institute of Technical Standards (Technical Secretariat of the Accessibility Committee of COPANT) (Instituto Uruguayo de Normas Técnicas) ABNT Brazilian Association for Technical Standards (Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas) TRANSFER AREA A barrier-free space which allows a wheelchair user or a person using other technical aids to position themselves close to the furniture to which they must transfer. UNIVERSAL DESIGN Universal Design understood as universalized design conceives of spaces and products which can be used by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for specific adaptation. 3

6 INTRODUCTION WHY ACCESSIBILITY MATTERS According to studies carried out by the United Nations, people with disabilities make up between 7% and 10% of the general population. The 2002 annual report of the Pan- American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) suggests that accessibility and mobility are the primary issues facing the disabled population and that this is due to architectural and urban design barriers, which intensify the difficulties faced by persons with disability in integrating into the labour market and in conducting daily activities. However, this percentage cannot be considered to refer strictly to a minority population. One person s disability affects not only their own situation but also that of their family (and even their community) throughout their entire lives. The number of people directly or indirectly affected by issues related to disability is much broader and much more significant than this percentage would suggest. On the other hand, in relation to average life expectancy, it has been estimated that by the year 2030, 20% of the world population will be over 65 (Ratzka). According to this data, most people will reach old age and a minor but significant proportion will suffer from physical or sensory limitations, which will compromise their independence. These statistics show that urban planners must continue to pay careful attention to the design of the built environment, given that such environments can facilitate or inhibit social inclusion. We will all grow old one day (and we will perhaps no longer be able to climb stairs as easily) and specific groups, such as children, pregnant women and senior citizens require greater attention with respect to safety. This reality suggests that a new focus is needed in the design of public spaces and buildings. These must guarantee accessibility, independently of the stages of life and condition of each individual. We will also need accommodating environments for regular physical activity, which will help to prevent and reduce disability. Image text: The lack of pavements with firm, flat, non-slip surfaces reduces the safety and movement of senior citizens, forcing them to walk in the streets. Investing in accessibility gives good returns a guarantee of greater independence for some and a benefit for all because an inclusive environment incorporates the universal requirements of safety and comfort. Among the tangible benefits are a reduction in the number of accidents and, consequently, lower health care costs and increased productivity. 4

7 The Scope of the Problem in Latin America Most urban environments constructed in large Latin American cities remain inaccessible and many cities in the region have not even begun the process of adaptation. In the following table, we can see the size of the disabled population in the region: Region Population (in thousands) Latin America and the Caribbean 520, , , , ,685 People with disabilities (10%, according to WHO) 52,022 55,828 59,443 71,105 76,768 Efforts to improve accessibility are still in the initial stages and this is a reflection of the precarious financial situation of the majority of Latin American cities. Pro-accessibility action is also difficult for the following reasons: Universities do not provide proper training or information for architects and engineers Legislation is inconsistent, deficient and incomplete Technical standards are poorly disseminated and compliance is not mandatory In spite of these difficulties, many governments and institutions in Latin America have moved forward with important initiatives for including accessibility in the urban environment, in transportation and in buildings. However, even in cities which have made the greatest progress, it is common to find incomplete projects or deficient work with poor quality designs, materials or finishing: recently constructed roads with uneven surfaces; curb ramps with edges which do not facilitate wheelchair manoeuvrability; poor quality, low resistance railings. All of these are counterproductive efforts. Some examples are shown in the photographs below. INADEQUATE PROJECT EXECUTION Pedestrian crossing and curb ramp in Córdoba, Argentina. 5

8 From Specific to Universal In the 1980s and 1990s, the notion of eliminating architectural barriers to serve the needs of people with disabilities took on broader meaning. It incorporated the idea of Universal Design and thus became another essential element of urban rights and policies of social inclusion. The new concept developed through the recognition that a large part of the world s population is not easily accommodated within the standard model upon which public spaces and buildings are based. The traditional model ignores the specific needs of senior citizens, people with obesity, those who are very tall or very short (including children), pregnant women and people with physical or sensory limitations. Universal Design aims to serve the widest possible range of people. It does this by designing spaces and products with dimensions and forms, which are appropriate for interaction and use, independently of the size, posture or mobility of the user. Universal Design recognizes and respects physical and sensory diversity and the changes, which our bodies undergo from infancy through old age. ADAPTING THE ENVIRONMENT OR THE INDIVIDUAL Before the 1970s, the policy paradigm with regard to persons with disability was the medical model. In this model, problems were defined according to an individual s inability to perform daily activities or to take up employment (DeJong, 1981). The problem was thought to lie with the individual and it was the individual who was seen to need treatment. With the introduction of the independent living model, it was recognized that people with disabilities, senior citizens or people with diminished capacity, had specific capabilities and needs. The independent living model suggests that all people share the same basic individual rights and that people with specific needs should have access to an environment, which maximizes their personal level of autonomy. 6

9 Adaptations in the environment, housing, transportation, the workplace and education centres are means of social integration that allow individuals to lead independent lives. So too are adaptations in communications, shopping centres and rest and recreation areas. At the same time, it is also appropriate to ensure the adaptation of the individual in ways, which facilitate access to mechanisms that can increase their autonomy devices such as strollers and wheelchairs, canes and prostheses, which allow movement in universally accessible spaces. ACCESSIBILITY IS IMPORTANT FOR BOTH THE STATE AND FOR SOCIETY There is enough evidence to show that the inclusion of persons with disability in the socioeconomic life of a society is not only an issue of social justice and human rights but also a cost-benefit issue. Insertion into the labour market is the most effective way of reducing poverty among persons with disability as well as their families and communities. In general, there are two challenges faced by families with a disabled member. In the first instance, family resources are considerably reduced when a person with a disability is unemployed. Unemployment in this case often results from the impossibility of getting to work a blind person may have difficulty taking the bus on a daily basis, a wheelchair user may have difficulty working in a location without access to washrooms or elevators. In addition and this depends on the type and severity of the disability as well as the level of accessibility at home or in the environment a person with disabilities may rely on the constant help of family members. These factors lack of employment and the need to rely on others compromise the social and economic integration of people with disabilities. This question also arises in the case of senior citizens, who may or may not require assistance, depending on the accessibility of their environment. This is particularly the case in terms of mobility and safety, which determine the degree of their independence. Thus, from an economic and social point of view, it is in the interest of both the state and society in general to eliminate architectural barriers and to build integrated and accommodating environments, which facilitate the development, productivity and quality of life of all. Image text: Inaccessible telephone booth 7

10 WHY PUBLIC POLICY IS FUNDAMENTAL TO ACCESSIBILITY The concept of Inclusive Development seeks to expand the vision of human and socioeconomic development. It recognizes diversity as a fundamental aspect of the development process and recognizes also the contribution of each human being to the process. Instead of imposing isolated policies and actions, inclusive development promotes an integrated strategy, which benefits individuals and the society as a whole. Inclusive development is an essential strategy for overcoming social exclusion and, consequently, for eradicating poverty. The inclusion of Universal Design in public policy and urban interventions should therefore be a priority. In the last decade, governments of many Latin American cities made significant financial and political investments targeting a more accommodating urban environment for the entire population. However, when Universal Design principles are not taken into account in the planning stages, the result is a series of costly repairs and adaptations that affects the project s integrity. In Latin America, in spite of the significant number of people with disabilities (according to the table above), attention to the needs of this group is limited to micro-solutions solutions which are barely adequate for specific persons or buildings. Examples of microsolutions are: at the request of a wheelchair user, a single accessible telephone booth is installed in the middle of dozens of other, inaccessible booths; a single accessible washroom in a block of buildings; an accessible road where a school for children with special needs is located in the middle of an inaccessible city. It is clear that there is a need to consider accessibility at the macro planning level, as a standard element of all urban development projects. 8

11 The Accessible School: A Priority for Inclusion Inclusive education involves consideration for the identification and surmounting of all barriers to effective, continuous and quality participation in education particularly during the primary school years. This has been widely accepted and documented as a human right of free participation. (World Forum, Dakar, UNESCO 2000) In the school setting in particular, an accessible physical environment can be extremely liberating and can facilitate integration among children, thereby improving their performance. Inaccessible environments are overwhelming factors in the exclusion of children with disabilities at school and this sets the stage for future marginalization in the labour market. The school environment can exacerbate a disability by increasing the level of functional difficulty or it can minimize the effects of disability, transforming a student s experience into one of efficiency, ability and independence. When schools maintain barriers that hinder independent access to the classroom, the computer or washroom, they establish a powerful factor of social exclusion. School infrastructure must allow institutions to receive all students in an environment, which meets the students needs and requirements and facilitates the full expression of their capabilities. The use of computer systems equipped with audio facilitates access to information and significantly transforms the learning experience for blind or visually impaired students all at low cost. Image text: A classroom for blind students. Municipal Network for Mainstream Education - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One positive example of a policy designed to eliminate these barriers is the one adopted by the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro in relation to schools, which offer a mainstream curriculum. All new schools constructed within the municipal zone of the city feature accessibility projects. In addition, the municipality has a works program for already existing schools, which guarantees that any school being upgraded or remodelled will include adaptations to make it accessible. 9

12 MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THESE GUIDELINES GENERAL OBJECTIVES a. To ensure that projects funded by the Inter-American Development Bank adopt accessibility and the application of Universal Design principles as standard practice based in each case on an analysis of social and economic costs and benefits including, among other things, the prevention and reduction of the prevailing levels of disability. b. To help Member Countries identify problems and formulate diagnoses, solutions and plans for the gradual inclusion of accessibility in the built environment (equipped and endowed with spaces, services and communication). c. To facilitate the incorporation of the concept of accessibility in a cross-cutting, consistent and coordinated fashion into the policies of the various national institutions. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES a. To ensure the inclusion of all people with the greatest equity, independence and comfort possible in individual and shared activities, using designs which overcome discriminatory practices in urban spaces, buildings, places of interest, public services, transport and means of communication, among others. b. To stimulate the processes of incorporating accessibility in a cross-cutting, consistent and coordinated fashion into the global thematic of development projects. c. To promote the application of recommendations and principles to achieve practical, efficient and sustainable solutions in new projects. d. To instrumentalize the application of technical support for accessibility in infrastructure projects, using international and regional criteria, principles and guidelines arrived at by consensus. e. To provide a methodology to support the establishment of accessibility processes, management and implementation developed for typical contexts such as urban development or renovation, neighbourhood improvement or the improvement of irregular settlements, housing projects, projects involving the adaptation of public buildings or protected heritage sites and public transportation, among others. 10

13 CONCEPTUAL RECOMMENDATIONS In order to contribute to a comprehensive treatment of the issue, the incorporation of accessibility with Universal Design principles must follow these conceptual recommendations: a. Bear in mind that accessibility of a route, a location, an object or an environment involves people arriving, entering, using and leaving in safety and with the greatest degree of equity, autonomy and comfort possible. b. Consider the direct relation between accessibility and ergonomics, in the sense of optimizing the interactions between people, environments and machinery or equipment. c. Base the application of Universal Design principles on uniform regional and international guidelines arrived at by consensus. METHODOLOGICAL RECOMMENDATIONS: CREATE OR ADAPT? It is much easier and much more economical to plan an accessible environment than it is to adapt an existing one. Every opportunity should be taken to adopt Universal Design principles in the design stage. Nevertheless, in many instances, very successful solutions can be found in existing environments through simple adaptations. The quality of the adaptation is directly linked to the safety and comfort of the users ramps with gentle gradients, bars with firm support, tactile floors with visual contrast to signal uneven surfaces, among others. In new projects, and in existing ones, it is important that interventions be well executed. Sometimes, with the best of intentions, we create almost acceptable modifications. However, in accessibility, almost is not good enough. A few centimetres can make a big difference and can ruin an entire, well-planned route. In many cases, when a project is completed, the adaptation work does not meet the minimum parameters of efficiency, and this renders the investment useless. Image text: Careless placement of a temporary wall to facilitate the construction of a building can disrupt an existing accessible pedestrian route and render it unusable. 11

14 STEP BY STEP: WHAT TO PRIORITIZE Conflicts will arise in the day-to-day process of constructing an accessible environment. Many of these can be avoided if project management is supported by a methodology, which facilitates prior knowledge of the stages of the process and possible complications and if an acceptable list of priorities is established beforehand. How can this be accomplished? 1. With the Work Team: Invest in an Understanding of the Issue From the political, social and ethical points of view, every public project must support the right of each citizen to mobility and integration. Project managers must be convinced of the importance of accessibility. If they do not believe in the importance of an adequate level of support for the issue, the projects will certainly not meet the necessary requirements. Every investment in the initial stages of a project in the sense of facilitating an understanding among the teams involved (design, execution, control and others) of the advantages of a more inclusive environment will result in future savings of time, effort and money. The Latin American region has at its disposal the technical standards on accessibility of the Pan-American Commission on Technical Standards (COPANT), which provides an adequate level of technical support where there are no national technical standards available. These standards allow new projects to meet acceptable specifications, avoiding questionable work that might require entirely preventable adjustments and investments in the future. It is clear, however, that the availability of standards is a necessary but insufficient condition. Too often, completed work must be corrected when legal action is taken by local nongovernmental organizations. In many cases, this problem arises with recent work new subway stations, which are inaccessible, or urban development schemes with inadequate accessibility. Image text: This access ramp to the beach in Montevideo is an example of an acceptable accessibility solution. 12

15 MAPPING OUT THE PROJECT In project planning, it is very important to emphasize specific recommendations for acceptable design, quality and maintenance. 2. Measurements and Detailed Models of the Area It is essential to analyze existing conditions, paying attention to both the general and specific objectives of the project. It is also important to obtain detailed measurements through fieldwork both in the case of new undertakings and in areas and buildings already constructed. With existing conditions is meant the sum of natural and urban elements, buildings, equipment, transportation, objects and services that exist on the site, and which is being considered for development. In the case of the placement of curb ramps or ramps along pedestrian routes, measurement or detailed scale modelling of the physical space of the intervention is essential. This must be done so that all elements can be marked precisely and ramps can be made compatible with all other elements in the environment such as drainage grills and trees which might be difficult to relocate. Drain in front of curb ramp. La Paz, Bolivia. 13

16 3. Preparing a Diagnosis Once a detailed relief of the object of intervention has been completed, an analysis of the conditions of the area must be done. This analysis must include a study of the function of the site and the activities, which will take place there. Criteria of safety, equity, autonomy and mobility for a broad range of users (including the needs of children, senior citizens, pregnant women, people with reduced mobility and those who are distracted or in a hurry) must be used. Image text: Unexpected object: low wire in Plaza Fabini, Uruguay. The analysis must be supported by the specifications and recommendations of existing local and regional technical standards on accessibility as well as the guidelines in this document. Starting from this basis, several elements can then be identified, as dictated by the scope of the project: barriers and aspects of accessibility that must be considered; the recommended level of accessibility; and the corresponding priorities. Image text: Unexpected object: A route beneath a staircase in Malecón de Guayaquil, Ecuador. At this stage, contact and talk with associations of people with disabilities and senior citizens within the community, with a view to ensuring their participation and collaboration on issues regarding accessibility in the diagnosis, design and implementation of the work. 14

17 4. Design: Guaranteeing Accessible Routes In new plans and in adaptations intended to make existing areas or buildings more accessible it is important to establish accessible routes which ensure unhindered, barrierfree travel and integrated priority areas. In the case of a public building, the priority must be routes, which guarantee access through the main entrance of the building and the integration of the main working areas, as well as accessible washrooms. 15

18 a. City Streets It is important that there always be, at a minimum, the possibility of one accessible route for all pedestrians. In the analysis of a city space, for example, all routes which join main avenues, secondary roads, bus stops and other access points for public transportation and parking lots must be examined. Among other items, the following should receive special attention: Surfaces in general Existing unevenness Width and gradient of pavements Location and accessibility of street furniture Elements which encroach on pedestrian areas Visual and informative signage Traffic lights and audio signals Public parking Conditions for access, movement and interaction with equipment in parks and playgrounds b. Buildings In the analysis of buildings, in general, priority must be given to an accessible route from the main entrance, which connects with the other public or common areas of the building. Particular attention must be paid to the following: Surfaces in general Existing unevenness Means of movement between surfaces 16

19 Width of doors and traffic areas Placement, access and height of equipment as well as possibility for interaction with equipment (telephones, counters, booths, self-help terminals and elevators, among others) Visual and aural communication Washrooms: common areas and private stalls Rescue and emergency areas Parking spaces Conditions of access, movement, seats and arrangement in auditoria and galleries 5. Project Compatibility Different projects must be made compatible in order both to achieve accessibility and to meet other demands of the municipality or the concessionaires responsible for lights, phones, water, plumbing, landscaping and other amenities. Careful planning in the placement of lamp-posts to provide suitable lighting, for example, is not sufficient if the physical conditions surrounding the placement of these posts are not also considered. They must be placed in a manner, which will not hinder pedestrian or vehicular routes. Image text: This curb ramp was constructed without considering its compatibility with the location or relocation of existing posts and levels. This is totally inefficient and renders the investment useless. Maracaibo, Venezuela. Street furniture must be designed in an integrated fashion. In order to avoid surprises and undesirable results, it is critical that designers of the various technical specializations needed in large projects communicate and share information at the very early stages of the project. It will not do to discover after work has been completed that, for example, a lamppost has been placed opposite a pedestrian ramp. This can be avoided if the specialists responsible for lighting and accessibility communicate from the very start. 17

20 ADEQUATE SOLUTION Overhead pedestrian crossing. Bogotá, Colombia. ADOPTING TECHNICAL STANDARDS FOR A PROJECT Technical standards related to accessibility must be applied to architectural, urban development and transportation projects, as well as the design of equipment, accessories, communications and services. A Technical Standard national, regional or international in the manner in which it is developed and the scope of its application, following the guidelines of the International Standardization Organization (ISO), is voluntary. However, its application can be suggested or declared to be mandatory. Mandatory compliance can be established by organizations with legal or regulatory authority for reasons of public health, safety of persons and property, environmental protection, consumer protection, accessibility, etc. In practice, a large number of countries refer to technical standards when applying regulatory criteria in these areas. Technical standards are regularly included in terms of reference, construction specifications and technical criteria to be used in project development. There are several factors which favour the acceptance, adoption and application of technical standards: they deal with welldeveloped technical specifications; they follow a universally accepted methodological procedure and scope; and especially they are arrived at by consensus and through the participation of interested parties. Relevant information can be found through the accessibility link on the UNIT website (Technical Secretariat of the Accessibility Committee of COPANT, member of the ISO): WORKING TOGETHER WITH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS It is important to work together with local community organizations and especially with associations of people with disabilities and senior citizens associations. Priorities for accessibility must be discussed with representatives of these users, given that accessibility is a prerequisite for a full life for these communities. 18

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