Report of the Fifth International Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments: Access Legislation and Design Solutions, Harare, Zimbabwe, January 16-18, 1992

This portion of the report from the Fifth International Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments: Access Legislation and Design Solutions, held in Harare, Zimbabwe, includes a table of contents with links to papers and discussions, a presentation of the organizers, and opening addresses by the Hon. F.L. Chitauro, Dep. Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare, Zimbabwe, by Mr. Alexander Phiri, Chairperson, Zimbabwe Federation of Disabled, and by Professor Sven Thiberg, CIB W84 Coordinator, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. Internet publication URL:

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drawing of African hut 

Table of contents

Part I   Presentation of Organizers

Opening addresses
Hon. F.L. Chitauro, Dep. Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare
Mr. Alexander Phiri, Chairperson, Zimbabwe Federation of Disabled
Prof. Sven Thiberg, CIB W84 Coordinator, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Part II   Invited papers

Bhandari, Introducing accessibility legislation for architects and planners in Mauritius
Biswas, Video for accessibility
Chizima, Accessibility legislation in Zambia
Cohen, Accessibility in South Africa
Dhlamini, Swaziland National Association of the Disabled 
Hagan and Wellington, Opportunities and constraints for access legislation in Ghana: a case study of utilizing existing institutional framework to promote access legislation
Hassan, Essentials of a comprehensive accessibility legislation
Issa Abdou, Accessible, adaptable low-cost housing in Egypt
Khalfan, UWZ efforts in improving accessibility in Zanzibar Stone Town
Masemene, Constitutionalism and access legislation
Masutha, Access legislation and enforcement mechanisms
Newman, Promotion of access legislation in Ghana: prospects and challenges posed to the Ghana Federation of the Disabled
Nourani, Self-protection of persons withdisabilities in emergency situations
Nzioki, A review of current accessibility legislation in Kenya
Rajah, Legislation of mobility facilities for disabled persons as backup to existing goodwill
Sehlabaka, Access legislation in Lesotho and the involvement of the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD) in legislation and policy formulation
Tsai, Access legislation and barrier-free environments in Taiwan
Wellington, Opportunities and challenges of barrier-free design consciousness: an evaluation of the application of barrier-free design principles in the socio-cultural circumstances in Ghana

Part III   Discussion

Disability legislation and constitutional provisions
Enforcement issues 


About CIB
List of participants


Presentation of the organizers

CIB is the abbreviation of the French title of the International Council for Building Research, Studies and Documentation. CIB's purpose is to facilitate and develop international cooperation in building, housing and planning research, studies and documentation, covering not only the technical but also the economic and social aspects of building and the related environment. CIB, with its over 100 Working Commissions, works through congresses, symposia and colloquia. Working Commission W84 "Building Non-Handicapping Environments" was founded in 1984. 

The Zimbabwe Federation of Disabled (ZIFOD) 

The Department of Building Function Analysis, Department of Architecture, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm studies the relationship between man, built environment and society. The original focus has shifted from the definition of spatial and other basic functional user requirements to more complex aspects of the use of buildings and urban environments including decision processes in planning, building and management as well as housing in developing countries. The aim is to provide data and arguments to enable environmental designers and users to advocate users' interests in the planning process and to widen the public debate in cultural, economic and political terms. 

CIB W84 Secretariat (until 1994):
Coordinator, Professor Sven Thiberg 
Associate Coordinator, Adolf D. Ratzka, Ph. D. 
Administrative Assistant, Kristopher Walmsley 

Dept. of Building Function Analysis 
The Royal Institute of Technology 
100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Opening address

Cde. F. L. Chitauro, 
Deputy Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare 

Comrade Chairperson, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for having been accorded the honor to be with you at the opening of this important expert seminar on accessibility legislation. It is important, for its recommendations and conclusions which will no doubt assist us in the formulation of relevant policies and developmental programs in the field of disability. 

Cde. Chairperson, I would like to extend a warm welcome to each and every one of you and I do so on behalf of my ministry and indeed on my own behalf. The people of Zimbabwe are honored to have the duty and responsibility of being host to delegates from Africa and other parts of the world. I hope that you will find your stay in Harare a beautiful and memorable one, not only during your official deliberations but also as you interact with our people and each other. 

Cde. Chairperson, I am confident and hopeful, that with your well-known characteristic grasp of detail and dedication to the aims and objectives of Expert Seminars on Accessibility Legislation, you will steer the current session to a successful conclusion and I wish you every success in your difficult and challenging task. The potential of this Expert Seminar is great but so are its problems. I view this Expert Seminar on Accessibility Legislation with the strongest of goodwill tempered by the sober recognition of the limits of the contribution which we can make to solve these problems. We do not expect instant solutions so I urge you to deal with the realities of today and the opportunities of tomorrow instead of reacting on the basis of yesterday's habits. 

The concepts of integration and equalization can only be achieved, if our governments could devise progressive community-based rehabilitation and educational programs that are aimed at changing societal attitudes and behaviors towards disability. There is a great need for the professionals, politicians and the public at large to re-examine our own attitudes, since we seem to spend a lot of time on moulding disabled people to cope with their environments instead of spending more time on changing the attitudes of the able-bodied persons. 

Cde. Chairperson, it is necessary for us to recognize that persons with disabilities have the same human and civil rights as all other citizens. Therefore, steps need be taken to guarantee their autonomy and social integration by way of legislation to enable people with disabilities to participate in and contribute to all aspects of economic, social and political life. 

Disabled persons have the same hopes, aspirations and rights as everyone else. This basic and simple statement, however, is not as universally appreciated as evidenced, and I am sure you will agreewith me, by the fact that no country, not even in times of economic prosperity has solved the problems of integrating all its disabled people into active social, political and economic life. 

Pity and over-protection are completely inadequate to prepare disabled people for self-employment. The almost universal assumption that disabled people need charity or the constant support of social workers or other professional groups is to be questioned. Admittedly, Comrade Chairperson, while there are some disabled persons who require care, shelter, protection and constant support from others, there are those in the majority who need assistance towards self-help, training to cope with their disability, an opportunity to develop their skills and short-term assistance to overcome their disadvantage and to be given a fair chance to compete on an equal basis with non-disabled persons. This, Cde Chairperson, is what I think is the way forward on matters that concern disabled persons. 

To state that societies have an obligation to make their physical environments, housing and transportation, social and health services, educational and work opportunities, cultural and social life including sports and recreational facilities accessible to people with disabilities, is merely to repeat the obvious because the community must be accessible to all its members. 

People with disabilities have a right to use all structures intended for general public use. Like everyone else, they need usable means of transportation within the community. I believe that building standards and community designs should include requirements for accessible living, learning, working, recreational and transportation conditions in rural as well as urban areas. Cde. Chairperson, time has come to set the balance right. A great deal depends on our determination and vision. Let us deal in reality not rhetoric. Let us address the practical common concerns of our disabled people with realism, maturity, understanding and common sense. It is now time to bring into the light of day and the mainstream of useful, active life, those thousands of disabled persons whose energies and talents are being blighted and sacrificed at the alter of ignorance and prejudice. 

In conclusion, I am informed that your organization has depended on the assurance and cooperation of many organizations and individuals. A great deal of effort, enterprise and expenditure has been put into this program to ensure its success, I would therefore want to take this opportunity to thank the agencies, individuals and organizations who have contributed and enabled this workshop to take place. 
Last but not least, I wish to thank the participants who are willingly taking time in the midst of their many duties and responsibilities to come to this meeting. Mention should also be made that the hospitality of the staff at this hotel contributes to the comfort and happiness of our guests. I urge the hotel staff to keep up the good work. Cde. Chairperson, comrades and friends, it is now my singular honor to declare this important seminar officially open.

Opening address

Alexander Phiri, 
Zimbabwe Federation of Disabled (ZIFOD), Zimbabwe 

I would like to welcome the delegates who have come to this CIB W84 Seminar on Access Legislation and Design Solutions. On behalf of ZIFOD, who are hosting this seminar, it is a big honor for us to welcome you all to this important international seminar. 

When Adolf Ratzka wrote me to request that we host this CIB W84 Seminar and Workshop, I was a bit hesitant because I was not sure if we could manage to do what I had seen in Prague, Czechoslovakia when I attended the CIB Seminar there in 1987. Especially in Africa where all types of resources are said to be very scarce. It is not surprising, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, visitors and delegates, that we had a number of postponements. 

My appeal to you is that if you have attended better organized CIB meetings before, please do not compare them with this one because we are holding the first of its kind in Africa. All the other CIB meetings have been held outside Africa, where they could have been better organized. So do not compare it because if you do so you may desire to see all the computers, the microphones, all the beautiful things that you see in Europe, we do not have these here. 

But let me assure you that there is something unique about us in Africa; persons with disabilities here in Africa are united. We may not be experts in Africa but we know that we want to achieve through a united front in all areas of development because a strong movement of disabled people is very important. We do not want to act as individuals because this approach is full of gaps. Wherever you find individuals acting in small pockets you will find a lot of gaps. And politicians, governments, take advantage of this when people are not united. I have seen in some countries that I have been to, in Europe and America, where there are numerous organizations, hundreds of them. You have organizations of the legless, like myself, who are not associatingwith anybody else. You will find us, people with no legs, debating issues. The handless, they have their own organization. The one-eyed people have their own organization. Albinos, wheelchair users, the deaf, the mentally disabled have their own organizations, and the list is endless. But our enemy number one, as you know, is negative attitude. We must fight this enemy, not as individuals but as a strong united front. 

Do you know how Africa was colonized? It was because somebody, somewhere, succeeded to divide our ancestors. They did not divide us, they divided our ancestors, so today there is disunity among independent states which will continue to lead to this kind of division and not bring real development among people. As disabled people, we do not want to copy what other people are doing, we want to be united in the movement of disabled people, and let us always aspire to work together as one united body under DPI. Yes, we are experts in our own right. But you will find that you do not need to be an expert to know your problems as a disabled person. You do not need to have a degree, you do not need to be an architect, you do not need to be a social welfare officer and so on. We have the same problems whether or not we are experts, therefore the idea is for the experts that are disabled or non-disabled to come together to fight this one thing: negative attitude. I know we will succeed and having said that, I wish you the best during your stay in Harare. 


Opening address

Sven Thiberg 
CIB W84 Coordinator, Professor, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden 

First I want to thank you, Mr. Phiri and Mr. Dube and your staff, for organizing this seminar. I do not think you have to be nervous, everything has functioned very well up until now and I think it will continue that way. So it depends more on us as participants than on you whether the Seminar will be successful or not. I also want to welcome all participants to this meeting. 

I will roughly cover five items: a little about the CIB background; something about the Independent Living seminar yesterday; some words about the Prague Resolutions which are the basis for our discussions today; some comments about the program; and some wishes concerning the outcome of this seminar. 

First, something about the CIB background. CIB was founded just after the Second World War by some Central European researchers and planners and architects within the field of building and planning. I think CIB had two purposes. One was to strengthen professional knowledge and to spread information about that. But it was also what is now called, a confidence-building type of approach, to try to make friends again with people involved in the Second World War. It was a success from that point of view. For many years East and West European countries were in a cold war, but still there was good cooperation between East and West European experts in the field of planning and building. 

CIB works in what is called commissions, and W84 is one of those commissions. I was asked as a professor in the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in the beginning of the 1980s to take on the responsibility for one new such working commission in the disability field. Thanks to Adolf Ratzka, it was possible to start this work in Stockholm in 1984. Our second meeting was in Prague in 1987, and already at that stage legislation was on the agenda and one of the most important issues. We went to Tokyo for the first meeting mainly concerned with the developing countries in that region. Then we were in Budapest, and now Harare is meeting number five. We are planning for a sixth meeting in Montevideo later this year. In Budapest, here in Harare, and in Montevideo, we will concentrate on legislation. 

About the Independent Living seminar yesterday. I think the seminar was very successful. It gave a clear philosophy, dealing with both the technical issues and with basically the political issues. I am happy about that and I hope we can use the outcome of the Independent Living seminar as a basis for our work. That means it is not necessary to go back over those basic facts but to act in accordance with what was discussed and decided on. In my opinion, building and planning is a way to distribute wealth and resources in a society. In each country you can look at this as a measure of the nation's capacity to a fair distribution without discrimination or injustice. I think that's a very important background and makes our issues similar to other issues regarding housing for the homeless and issues which are very important just now in the world. 

The Prague Resolutions: I will read some of the most important parts of it. 1.     We, the participants of the CIB W84 Expert Seminar, consisting of both non-disabled and disabled persons, cannot accept anything else but the goal of a barrier-free environment and free movement within it for all. Accessibility must be enforced by national legislation. 

2.     Legal instruments should be developed to ensure accessibility both in new construction and in renovating, upgrading and expanding existing urban environments. 

3.     In recognition of their experience, disabled people and their organizations should be actively involved at all levels in drafting, monitoring and enforcing legal instruments for the planning and building process. 

4.     Public funds should be allocated for the development and maintenance of these instruments. 

5.     Governments should provide funding for consumer organizations to allow them to build up their expertise in this area and to participate in the decision making and implementation of these instruments. 

6.     Recognizing the long term benefits of accessible environments for all, governments should subsidize the development of products and methods that improve accessibility. 
The Resolutions are in accordance with the "United Nations World Program of Action Concerning Disabled Persons" that has been adopted by all member governments. I think this is a basis, even for our Seminar today. 

Some comments on the program. I think we have a very difficult task. We have to work on general, regional, international, and local levels and we have to take into consideration political, economic and cultural differences and similarities. Five examples of this come to mind: I think of definitions we use and of the definition of democracy and the definition of the political systems in this part of the world is different. There are different opinions, different systems in existence and some of those systems are just now undergoing big changes. I think the distribution of land and of housing and the housing standards differ very greatly not only between the countries on this continent but also within the countries. It is important to understand for which people are we discussing those questions on the agenda. The legal systems in the field of building and planning are different. In some countries there is very little of it and in other countries there are several paragraphs. Still, we know little about how effective those paragraphs are. The administrative systems are different. The degree of decentralization, the power of the state, the power of the local governments, the power of the individuals is very different. That means we have to start from different levels when we discuss how to make those systems more effective. Finally, the social structure, demographic facts, household patterns, standard of living is different not only between countries but within countries. I think we can get lost, if we are not aware of those differences and do not take them into account. 

Finally something about my wishes for the outcome of the Seminar. The idea is to support the UN administration with a document concerning legislation. The Budapest meeting was a first step in this process which we are continuing here. I hope we have time to go through some of the findings and resolutions made there, and I hope Adolf will resume them sooner or later in this Seminar. And we will go further to Latin America to find out the Latin American situation and the idea is to try to combine what we have learned into this document. So you have to help us and help yourself to make the document as competent and as broad and as deep as possible. I hope this document can be full of teeth, which has been how you expressed the way you want to go further during the last couple days. And I also hope it can be very competent but also very realistic. We need realistic solutions which can be applied as soon as possible under the different conditions faced in the world. 

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