Access legislation in the Czech Republic

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Report of the CIB Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments, Budapest 1991

Access legislation in the Czech Republic

Miloslav Maxa., Czechoslovak Building Centre Prague, Czech Republic

 

Contents 


This report addresses the present state of the problem, to the author's knowledge. No other government documents are known to exist. The author is engaged in the removal of built environment barriers, providing material and product base for construction.


Basic documents

The only binding document on access legislation is Decree No. 53/1985 covering general technical requirements on usability and accessibility of structures by persons with disabilities. Other documents under study are the First Draft Regulation (CSN) on Structures for people with motor-disabilities (general typological requirements) and the First Draft Regulation (CSN) on Structures for people with optic-disabilities (general typological requirements). Both were elaborated by the State Research Institute for Typization na Bratislava, Drienova 34.

Regarding transport problems, the Institute recommends an extra regulation for road construction under the Federal Ministry of Transport. The elaboration of the First Draft Regulation was preceded by an analysis distributed to 71 respondents for their comments. 44 respondents answered the submitted draft. The following legislation was taken into account framing both regulations: the above-mentioned Decree No. 53/1985; German regulations DIN 18024 (2nd part); DIN 18025 (1st part) and Yugoslav and Hungarian regulations on usability of structures by disabled people.


Specific data

Access norms are based on both numerical data (measures, etc.) and performance and typological criteria. When these regulations are passed and become valid they will be binding for all participants in the construction process who will thus be obliged to comply with these regulations, i.e., everybody following these regulations becomes responsible that they are not violated. Building offices or institutions approving construction work should be authorized to control the legislation enforcement. The most effective mechanism for practical enforcement of these regulations is financial subsidy. As far as law suits against individuals for damages if these norms are violated, such a situation is possible but the question is, with what effect? The mentioned Draft Regulation is elaborated for persons with motor disabilities but does not cover cognitive disabilities.

The definition of the regulation includes access to the structure from the street, access within the structure and access to other facilities (e.g. toilets). Access does not depend on the size of the structure but, for example, on the number of people accommodated in a hotel, or the number of seats in a cinema/theater, etc.

Elevators are the subject of individual articles of the regulation (art. 36-43). The minimum dimensions are 110 cm x 140 cm. After the regulation becomes valid all structures covered by this regulation should be constructed accessibly. Existing structures should be made accessible, if it is constructionally possible, by remodelling, modernization, innovation etc. Where regulation cannot be enforced, the investor must apply for exception, presenting documentation proving that no other solution is possible. In such a case the investor has to ensure accessibility by other means (with the help of attendants, etc.).

Draft Regulation on structures for people with physical disabilities is proposed to refer to the following constructions:

a) residential buildings
b) multi-family buildings with apartments designated exclusively for disabled people
c) public buildings especially for:

  • administration and management
  • shopping and boarding
  • services and postal and telecommunication services
  • physical training and recreation
  • schools and culture
  • health service and social care
  • temporary accommodation, hotels, etc.


In the case of structures for people with visual impairments, this regulation is valid for the following structures:

a) residential buildings
b) multi-family buildings with apartments designated exclusively for people with visual impairments
c) public buildings especially for:

  • administration and management
  • services, and postal and telecommunication services
  • physical training and recreation
  • schools and culture
  • health service and service care
  • temporary accommodation.


The regulation does not refer to public environments except for access from the street. Information about the passing of all new norms (i.e., also of the above-mentioned) is distributed in a specialized periodical, "The Czechoslovak Standardization". Furthermore, we shall give public notice of this new regulation in our new publication to be issued together with the catalogue of products by the Czechoslovak Building Centre Prague in 1991. Czechoslovak state norms are not accompanied by examples of practice.

When passing access legislation, the interests of disabled and old persons should be represented by the Union of Disabled People in Bohemia and Slovakia and also by the respective Ministries, i.e., Health, Work, and Social Affairs. Consumers can be involved only when they are convinced that the norms are violated. In such a case they can contact their Member of Parliament (Deputy). The enforcement of access legislation was initiated by the Union of Disabled People, the pressure of individuals, and by the interest of governmental institutions. A great role in enforcing this legislation was played by the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981.

I express great gratitude and thanks to Ing. arch. J. Zapletalova, CSc. from the State Research Institute for Typization in Bratislava for her contribution in preparation of both these norms. 

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