Introduction to the Seminars Discussions
In order to put the discussion of the present seminar into perspective it might be useful to recall what happened at the first CIB W84 Seminar in Stockholm in 1984. The Stockholm meeting based mainly on Swedish presentations had the aim to formulate a starting platform for further work. It was a much smaller gathering than the Prague Seminar and rather traditional for CIB with a domination of professionals and government officials. In Stockholm two important steps were taken:
we changed the name of the Working Commission from "Building Concept for the Handicapped" to "Building Non-Handicapping Environments". It was more than a change of language.
we decided to involve the users, consumers in the words of the Commission, as equal partners in our work. The purpose was not to leave the professional responsibility for research or planning to them but to utilize their expertise for confronting ideas, results and strategies and to establish a forum for evaluation of the work of professionals for the purpose of strengthening the users situation.
One concrete outcome of the Stockholm meeting was a list of priorities for further activities within the Commission. In the preparations for this meeting "Renewal of Inner Cities" seemed an obvious area in urgent need for penetration. We intended to concentrate on a clearly defined problem in the built environment. Prague, this center of European culture and architectural tradition, seemed a very suitable place for such a discussion. Prague is an extraordinary example of the conflict between historical monument and modern life. But here we also found an active and progressive organization of the disabled people, the Federal Committee of the Union of Disabled People.
CIBs work consists of research, studies and documentation of all aspects of the built environment. CIB normally arranges meetings for professionals organized by professionals. CIB W84, too, has as its basic goal to deepen and widen the knowledge of the built environment through studies and research and to make this knowledge available and used through documentation and information.
But we are aware that the scientific community has a tendency to isolate itself from real life and to choose its issues more from a perspective of scientific pride than from urgent and practical needs of the people. For this reason we emphasize the basic question of the goals for research in our field by widening the problem from the "Building Concept for the Handicapped" to an issue of general adaptation of the built environment to all users in an equal society. Unfortunately, I have to say, this has to be repeated everywhere and every day, even if it sounds to some of us more like a political than a professional standpoint.
The contents of the papers mirror the state of the art. The inner city problems have not been on the top of the priority list up to now. Much emphasis is put on the design of new buildings, the equipment of the building and details within that framework. Inner city questions are wider than that. As battlefields for very strong economic forces and conflicting interests they not only meet past and present but also face market forces, administration and commerce as well as the consumers, the strong young newcomers to town and the old and often weak citizens.
We can choose to look upon this as problems or as a challenge, a chance for changes and the utilization of potential resources. To realize these opportunities strategies and methods have to be developed, planning on a regional and local level is needed, instruments to harness the strong economic and administrative forces have to be developed. While many of us have touched upon these areas in presentations and discussions, much more has to be done to get to the core of this area of research and application.
Workshop 1 Institutional Factors
Workshop 1 addressed institutional factors, the influence of legislation, accessibility standards and their enforcement, financial and subsidy instruments on the outcome of reconstruction and renovation of inner cities and their consequences for old people and persons with disabilities.
Chair: Ms. Maja Könköllä, Finland
Rapporteur: Mr. John Penton, United Kingdom
Presentations were given by
JR Champagne, National Research Council of Canada
Title: "Canadian Action on Handicapping Environments"
M Vovk, Urban Planning Institute of SR Slovenia, Yugoslavia
Title: "Housing Renewal Investment within the System of Housing Management Investment"
M Fränti, Ministry of Environment, Finland
Title: "Building Legislation and Norms - the (only) way to achieve Non-Handicapping Environments"
H Weiss Lindencrona, Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning, Sweden
Title: "From Barrierfication towards Barrier-Freecation of Inner Cities"
K Strömberg, National Swedish Institute for Building Research, Sweden
Title: "The Swedish Program for Improving Accessibility: An Evaluation"
M Fox, ACROD/ Fox and Associates, Australia
Title: "Access Australia"
JR Champagne pointed to the absence of training of firefighters in techniques for evacuating disabled persons and the negative impact that this tends to have, although changed approaches are now emerging, particularly in relation to heritage buildings. M Vovk drew attention to the widening range of source funding for housing. M Fränti laid great emphasis on the need for enforceable legislation based on norms in consultation with disabled people and experts. Such legislation should be binding in new construction, but flexible in the case of renovation. H Weiss Lindencrona advocated five principles: the need to focus on inner cities, the need for more and better research, emphasis on renewal and adaptation with the need to work out compromises, the need to change attitudes and to identify the concept of real costs. If enforcement is to be acceptable, the application of standards must be underwritten by quality assurance. K Strömberg stressed the right of accessibility in the context of declining new construction activity and expansion of renewal programs. He also demonstrated that subsidies had little effect on the introduction of lifts in 3-storey housing in Sweden. M Fox placed the technical issues of accessibility in the broader context of the need to understand the relationship between legislation and public awareness, the importance of giving it a community basis, and the imperative of developing strategies for effective implementation.
The discussion in Workshop 1 can be summarized by the following statements:
Access should be seen in the broader context of the comprehensive environment including transport, buildings, public places, communications (including information and documentation) and equipment.
Specific recommendations regarding all aspects of buildings include:
There should be a basic statute in every countrys federal or state building legislation aiming to achieve non-handicapping environments, by taking into account the presence of disabled persons in public buildings, work places and housing. Legislation on design criteria should recognize and implement the human right of disabled people to a barrier-free environment and full and equal participation in society. Recognizing the particular expertise of disabled people in this work they and their organizations are to directly participate in the establishment of barrier-free environmental design criteria.
Any such statute should be based upon norms, identified by the authorities of the respective countries which state the functional and numerical criteria for building design. While any such statute should be binding in relation to new construction, it should offer the scope for flexibility in the context of renovation, adaptation and extension.
For legislation to be effective it will require continual monitoring and re-evaluation together with the development of appropriate public awareness and promotional campaigns.
There is an urgent need to form more effective alliances - for instance between old citizens and persons with disabilities. Only by these means will it be recognized that it is normal for some persons to find it more difficult to manage their environment than others. This concern should be extended to inner cities in the developing world where increasing numbers of people with disabilities are being forced to compete in progressively more unsatisfactory conditions.
There is an urgent need for improvement in communications between architects and planners. Professional elitism is still a major contributing force in sustaining resistance to accessibility. Attention should be given to the training of architects and other environmental professionals.
Innovative approaches are needed in academic curricula and continuing education programs in order to ensure that designers respond to the needs of persons with the widest possible range of human characteristics. It is essential that this approach should be seen in the context of the development of valid, useful, universal concepts rather than as mere compliance with regulatory demands.
The definition of standards needs to be based on performance. In this way norms can be seen as tools for the designer, rather than as additional constraints. If design requirements are expressed in terms of specific performance, there would be much less resentment to disability issues on the part of architects and other designers. Models presented as examples of good practice tend to be a more acceptable approach to many designers.
Urgent attention needs to be paid to the concept of real costs. A redefinition of normal costs is needed to deal effectively with the all too frequently asserted argument that accessible design means additional costs. In this context historical experience is not a valid criterion for determining normal costs, since it is based upon exclusionary principles.
Workshop 2 Technological Innovations
Technological innovations in reconstruction and renovation in the form of more efficient materials, methods, and technical solutions can improve accessibility and old and disabled persons ability to live outside of institutions.
Chair: Mr. Kalle Könkkölä, Finland
Rapporteur: Dr. Allan Morris, United Kingdom
Presentations were given by:
G Bull, Norwegian Building Research Institute, Norway
Title: "The Flexibility of Kitchen Fittings"
U Frehse, UAK City of Munich, Fed Rep Germany
Title: "Public Transportation for Everybody!"
LG Karlsson, Akantus AB, Sweden
Title: "Accessible Housing"
H Örnhall, National Board of Physical Planning and Building, Sweden
Title: "Improved Accessibility in Bathrooms"
K Vasek, Vítkovice-Transporta, Czechoslovakia
Title: "Lifting Platforms for Wheelchair Users"
The papers demonstrated important advances in technology designed to assist old and disabled persons in a variety of situations. G Bull reported on a study of kitchen equipment and its adaptability to various user groups including old persons whose ability to maintain an independent life in their own home depends to a large degree on how well they manage daily kitchen work. U Frehse demonstrated an accessible public bus now being tested in Munich, West Germany. This particular type because of its very low floor can accommodate users who otherwise would have difficulties in climbing steps such as parents with baby strollers, old persons and wheelchair users. LG Karlsson reported on new equipment and methods that are being developed in Sweden for retrofitting existing apartment houses with elevators. The solution entails sawing off and narrowing the staircase and inserting in the resulting free space the elevator shaft. In this way elevators spacious enough to accommodate wheelchair users can be installed without evacuating the tenants. H Örnhall described new equipment and methods for retrofitting bathrooms in old apartment houses such that old and disabled persons possibilities of remaining in their familiar environment are considerably increased. K Vasek demonstrated a lifting platform which can be installed in private homes and public buildings.
The following points summarize the discussion in Workshop 2:
The participants agreed that money spent on technological research in this area can reap rich rewards for disabled people and the general public. Much of what is required in terms of level of technology is amazingly simple in nature. In view of the fast-growing numbers of old people and citizens with disabilities in most countries much greater resources must be channelled into ways by which they can live independently both in their homes and in public life. An economic argument could be made for a policy of subsidizing research and development of new technical solutions which enable people with disabilities to become more independent. The beneficiaries of such advances are not only individuals with disabilities, their families and friends but also fiscal bodies at various levels which realize savings in terms of reduced demand for institutional care facilities and special services. Such savings can best be internalized by the national government for which investments in this field, in the form of tax incentives or direct subsidies, carry high returns.
While educational efforts should be undertaken in order to raise the general publics awareness of the importance of appropriate technology in increasing the urban environments accessibility to all citizens, it was felt that training should be made available to persons with disabilities themselves in order to assist them in formulating their needs and in providing input into the design and planning process.
The workshops participants agreed that more research and development is called for in the area of how to incorporate features important for disabled users into standard products intended for the general public rather than designing special systems exclusively marketed for the use by persons with disabilities. One of the most important criteria for good design should be usability by all.
Workshop 3 Design Criteria and Methods
Needs of old and disabled persons translated into design criteria for accessible inner city renewal.
Chair: Ms. Rachel Hurst, United Kingdom
Rapporteur: Dr. Jonathan Sime, United Kingdom
Presentations were given by:
PM Arsic, Architektura i Urbanizam, Yugoslavia
Title: "Architecture as a Brake or Architecture as a Stimulus"
AE Galkowski, Technical University Poznan, Poland
Title: "Architectural Design Promoting the Accommodation of Disabled and Old Citizens within Inner Cities"
P Gartshore, J Sime, BUSRU School of Architecture Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Title: "Life Safety in Public Buildings: Access and Egress for the Mobility Impaired"
S Kose, M Nakaohji, E Itoigawa, T Yashiro, T Takahashi, Building Research Institute, Japan
Title: "Development of Design Guidelines of Dwellings for the Aging Society: A Japanese Perspective"
S Köbsell, T Hilbert, WHO/Hauptgesundheitsamt Bremen, Fed Rep Germany
Title: "Housing and Traffic Planning for Wheelchair Users"
H Loeper, Institut für Gesundheitsbau, Germ Dem Rep
Title: "Planning and Building in the City: Towards an Accessible Environment for Disabled and Old Citizens"
T Polinszky, L Banhidi, O &ARING;lund, H Loeper,
Title: "What Happened in the Barrier-Free Environment Design in Hungary in the Eighties?"
A Wokoun, V SI, Czechoslovakia
Title: "Esthetic and Social Aspects of Architectural Barriers"
WW Wrightson, Barrier Free/NZ Crippled Children Society, New Zealand
Title: "Barrier Free Design: Safety for a Caring Community"
CA Yoshida, Kyoei Gakuen Junior College, Japan
Title: "Three Stages of Housing Methods for the Elderly Society"
The presentations reflected a broad range of concerns. P Arsic reported on a survey which demonstrated how inaccessible environments seriously limit mobility and quality of life for persons with disabilities. A Galkowski outlined the needs of all individuals including persons with disabilities which the environment has to fulfill throughout the life cycle. P Gartshore and J Sime drew attention to the issue of egress in emergencies such as a fire. These problems are often used in barring persons with disabilities from using public buildings. They concluded that evacuation guidance documents are needed as a back-up to building standards and codes. Kose et al. provided a checklist of design specifications which when followed would allow old persons to live independently in the community. S Köbsell and T Hilbert showed how the lack of mandatory accessibility building codes in their community results in a supply of accessible housing of only 120 units while the demand is estimated at 1500 units. H Loeper emphasized the need for a comprehensive view in planning for all citizens. Accessibility in the built environment must be supplemented by a range of community-based services in order to enable old and disabled citizens to fully participate in the community. T Polinszky et al. reported on an international study on space requirements for the mobility of persons with disabilities. The study will include an investigation of whether persons with disabilities require special micro climates. A Wokoun confronted the purists esthetic view on heritage buildings with the demands for democratization of monumental staircases. WW Wrightson pointed out that a buildings accessibility must be seen in the wider context of transport systems, public or open spaces and adjacent buildings where the concept of the Accessible Journey is the mechanism linking these components together. CA Yoshida described how the traditional Japanese home has to be modified in order to allow aging in place.
The discussion in Workshop 3 focused on the following points. While each speaker indicated that there is a growing, if minimal, awareness of the importance of barrier-free design in his or her country, there were differences in the degree to which disabled people are fully integrated into the community through design. Design solutions vary from schemes tailored to disabled people as a separate group (e.g. institutionalized or specialized residential accommodations) to more open access to a range of buildings and public spaces. A notable contrast is the progress in barrier-free legislation and design that has been made in New Zealand with its small population (some 3 million) and newer building stock, compared to European countries. It was also noted that disabled people had been active in promoting this effective access legislation.
The propagation of barrier-free design seems directly tied to general housing policy such as modern mass housing in large-scale residential blocks in Eastern European countries or, in recent years, in smaller scale housing schemes in Western European countries. The degree to which an emphasis on ensuring that everyone has a roof over their heads in reality extends to disabled people as active members of the community is a political, economic and architectural issue which has evidently not been sufficiently addressed or researched.
A number of speakers illustrated with slides and personal accounts common barriers to physical movement. It was clear that each country has a long way to go before there is widespread access to homes (whether in high or low-rise buildings) or before disabled people can move about the urban environment easily. While it was generally felt that disabled people should be accommodated into all new architectural schemes, there was little discussion of how, in practical terms, improvements through design, funding or legislation could be made in the old building stock to ameliorate the problems caused by physical barriers to movement. This remains a pressing but difficult issue to resolve.
The presentations were predominantly about the difficulties faced by wheelchair users. The discussion then was extended to include the problems of the visually impaired and hearing impaired as well.
In a number of countries (e.g. UK, Japan, USA) the introduction of barrier-free design has been seriously delayed by the issue of building safety or building egress. Disabled people are often denied access to a building because their safety cannot be assured. National codes and standards are needed to ensure safety within a building. A particular difficulty here, however, is the division between design standards or codes and evidence on evacuation procedures. These need to be articulated and more fully integrated.
The unprecedented high increase in the aging population in Japan highlighted the need for future planning to be based on projected population statistics to ensure that housing is available to all people whatever their age, disability or situation - a house should be a house for life.
There was also discussion on the very low priority given to disability issues, high costs being often used as an excuse for inaction. It was emphasized by the group that, if barrier-free design criteria were incorporated at the planning stage, the costs were minimal.
Workshop 4 Case Studies of Inner City Renewal
Participants presented and analyzed examples of inner city renewal from various countries with respect to its effects on disabled and old persons.
Chair: Mr. Ron Chandran-Dudley, Singapore
Rapporteur: Mr. Michael Fox, Australia
Presentations were given by:
B Bratko, L Molek, Urban Planning Institute of SR Slovenia, Yugoslavia
Title: "The Town Center as a Residential Environment"
J Frederiksen, FIMITIC/Housing Transportation Technical Aids, Denmark
Title: "The Danish Experience: An Example from &ARING;rhus"
Z Jékely, G Molnár, Ministry of Building, Hungary
Title: "The Renewal of the Inner Districts of Budapest"
JJ Kroon, Netherlands
Title: "Opportunities for Obstacle-Free City Renovation in The Hague"
K Månsson, The Handicap Institute, Sweden
Title: "Housing Adaptations for Families with Mobility Impaired Children"
"Housing with Day and Night Service for the Severely Disabled in Sweden"
J Paulsson, Chalmers Institute of Technology, Sweden
Title: "Housing Renovation with Special Respect to Old and Disabled People"
M Sámová, Slovak Technical University of Architecture, Czechoslovakia
Title: "Renewal of the Inner City of Bratislava: Creating Non-Handicapping Environments for the Disabled"
B Bratko and L Molek presented work done in the town of Krsko, Yugoslavia - a small city with roots in the Middle Ages - where researchers invited and utilized citizen participation in planning large-scale renovation measures. J Paulsson reported on housing rehabilitation in Gothenburg, Sweden. He emphasized that it is not only the result of these measures which is important but also how the results are achieved. The methods used for housing renovation typically cause the displacement of the current tenant generation - often predominantly old persons - and the destruction of their social support network. As a result many of the relocated old persons experience a decisive drop in their quality of life which can lead to institutionalization. K Månsson concentrated on the needs of disabled children and their families in terms of adaptations of the physical environment. She also gave an account of the changing Swedish view on the cluster housing solution for persons in need of personal assistance. JJ Kroon showed some interesting examples of how accessibility for mobility-impaired persons could be improved in such venerable historic monuments as the Dutch Parliaments ceremonial hall without visible changes in the building.
The discussion in Workshop 4 identified the following key items for action:
Workshop 5 Personal Assistance Services for Disabled and Old Citizens
For old and disabled persons accessibility and self-directed personal assistance services are necessary conditions for independence, integrity and choice of residence.
Chair: Dr. Adolf D. Ratzka, Sweden
Rapporteur: Dr. Hana Hermanova, Denmark
Presentations were given by:
H Hermanova, WHO-Europe, Denmark
Title: "Importance of Environmental Assessment in Health Care of the Elderly and Disabled"
M von Heusinger, Fed Rep Germany
Title: "Support for Disabled Students: Establishing Personal Assistance Services"
S Köbsell, T Hilbert, WHO/Hauptgesundheitsamt Bremen, Fed Rep Germany
Title: "Personal Assistance Services for Disabled and Old Citizens in Bremen"
A Morris, D Fisher, M Del Valle Funes, Building Economics South Bank Poly, UK
Title: "Experiences in Developing an Expert System for the Adaptation of Existing Houses for Physically Handicapped People to Remain Independent"
AD Ratzka, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Title: "Stockholm Independent Living (STIL): Consumer Power in Personal Assistance"
M Roselius, National Board of Social Welfare, Sweden
Title: "Towards an Independent Life"
O Sthen, Linköping Regional Hospital, Sweden
Title: "Better Housing! Now!"
H Hermanova developed a theoretical framework for an environmental assessment tool with the aim of establishing an information basis for improving the built environment for old and disabled citizens. M von Heusinger reported on the self-help group of disabled students at Hamburg University which is involved in improving the conditions of students with disabilities by furnishing libraries and other facilities with special equipment such as braille writers. S Köbsell and T Hilbert reported on self-help initiatives developed by the West German branch of the international Independent Living Movement where persons with disabilities counsel each other on such issues as their rights to services, independent living skills, and the psychological and political aspects of belonging to a disenfranchized minority. A Morris et al presented a computerized expert system for occupational therapists for assisting disabled consumers in adapting their homes. A Ratzka pointed out the need for self-directed organizational solutions for personal assistance services which do not carry institutional traits but empower consumers to control their own lives. As an example for such a scheme he described the employer model realized by STIL, Stockholm Independent Living. M Roselius reported on a Swedish research project whose aim is to identify the future requirements for allowing old and disabled persons to stay in their homes rather than moving them into institutions. O Sthen commenting on the immediate need for more accessible housing to allow aging in place suggested an exchange system where disabled persons on upper floors could swap apartments with non-disabled tenants on ground floors.
The discussion in Workshop 5 focused on the issues of independent living and the new philosophy supporting this movement as presented by the some of the disabled workshop participants. The discussion following the formal presentations was quite lively and concentrated on the feasibility of self-directed independent living schemes in the context of differing economic, political and cultural backgrounds in the various countries. Agreement was reached though on setting up independent living as a long term goal which might be achieved in the future step by step.
There was unanimous agreement that living in the community is the best option for old and disabled citizens and that resources should be shifted from institutions to community-based facilities.
Some of the participants stressed the need for further research on the quality of life of old and disabled persons inside and outside of institutions. These experts also expressed skepticism about the ability of many disabled persons to be self-directed. Instead, they pointed out the need for support through informal and voluntary help schemes, in particular aiding the family of disabled persons, and the need for developing methodologies for cost-benefit analyses in this area. Also, surveys were suggested for ascertaining the needs of various diagnostic groups.
Vivid disagreement with these suggestions was voiced by most of the disabled workshop participants who questioned the need for surveys and comparative cost-benefit analyses of life in the community vs. an existence in institutions. Independent living in the community was seen by this group as a basic civil right which was not subject to cost-benefit considerations. Self-directed personal assistance was demanded as the most effective way to insure full and equal participation of many disabled people in the community. Instead of classifying disabled persons into those who are able to be self-directed and those who are not, these participants contended, training programs in independent living skills should be developed and made available, preferably by organizations of disabled people.
The following goals for the development of personal assistance schemes were outlined by these experts many of whom were users of such services themselves:
The consumer receiving public funding functions as employer of the assistants and organizes and administrates his or her own customized personal assistance according to individual needs.
Peer counselling and training services as well as consumer cooperatives are to be set up to facilitate the employer model for most consumers.
Personal assistance services through centralized public funding should enable consumers to realize the same degrees of freedom in travelling and residential mobility within the city and the country that the non-disabled population enjoys.
Workshop 6 Accessibility Issues in Developing Countries
Accelerating rates of urbanization, advances in health care, increasing populations of old and disabled persons and the rising influence of consumer organizations are creating a growing awareness of accessibility issues in developing countries.
Chair: Mr. Khalfan H. Khalfan, Tanzania
Rapporteur: Mr. Bill W. Wrightson, New Zealand
Presentations were given by:
D Bai, Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, Peoples Rep China
Title: "Creating a Barrier-Free Environment in Beijings Main Streets"
SÖ Gür, N Kuloglu, School of Architecture, Turkey
Title: "The Hidden Dimension in the Renewal of the Central Park: A Case Study"
SQ Yang, TW Zhao, Beijing Institute of Municipal Engineering Design, Peoples Rep China
Title: "Environmental Design of Civil Engineering for the Disabled"
SQ Yang and TW Zhao reported on the development of guidelines for integrating the needs of disabled people in Chinese pedestrian and bicycle traffic. In order to increase the safety of physically disabled people on tricycles and of walking sight-impaired persons persons new types of intersections and traffic signals have to be designed. D Bai described the recent efforts on the part of the Beijing Municipality to make the largest and most popular shopping street accessible to persons with different disabilities. More than 20 stores, restaurants, theaters were made barrier-free together with side walks and intersections including parking places for tricycles - the popular form of transportation for disabled persons in China. The project has since served as model and encouragement for similar undertakings in Beijing and other cities. N Kuloglu and SÖ Gür used the case of the Central Park in Trabzon, Turkey to illustrate the limited awareness of accessibility issues among many planners and architects. The park had been remodeled without considerations for the concerns of persons with disabilities. The authors demonstrated how the park could be adapted and made accessible to the whole population with relatively simple measures.
The discussion in Workshop 6, not surprisingly, covered similar concerns as expressed in the other workshops implying that all countries are more or less underdeveloped when it comes to planning for the needs of persons with disabilities. Emphasis was placed on legislation. Recognizing the basic human rights, the group recommended that appropriate legislation ensuring environmental access for all disabled persons must be included in the statutes of all countries. In the drafting and implementation of any such access legislation disabled people themselves must have the right of participation in the consultative process.
The need was stressed for considering the concerns of accessibility for persons with disabilities as an integral part of all community services. Thus, in any program of environmental and building renewal access for disabled persons must be included. Financial considerations should not be allowed to function as the main barrier.
The participants agreed that all environmental planning must recognize the constant interdependence of the elements of transport systems, public or open spaces and buildings so that disabled persons can utilize all community facilities with a minimum of difficulty.