Report of the Third International Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments: Accessibility Issues in Developing Countries, Tokyo

This portion of the report of the Third International Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments: Accessibility Issues in Developing Countries held in Tokyo in 1988, includes: a table of contents with links to individual presentations; a preface by the editor of the report, Adolf D. Ratzka, Ph.D., outlining the concepts of accessibility and Independent Living; a presentation of the organizers of the seminar; and opening statements by Dr. Yasumi Yoshitake, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Architectural Institute of Japan, by Professor Sven Thiberg, the CIB W84 Coordinator, and by Dr. Mickey Milner, Immediate Past Chairman of ICTA, International Commission on Technical Aids, Building and Transportation. Internet publication URL:

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Table of contents




Presentation of the organizers.


Opening Statements.


Individual Seminar Presentations.


Tamako Hayashi: Methodological Issues in Developing Public Non-Handicapping Environments in Japan.


Ramesh Kumar Biswas: Accessibility and Integration Based on Patterns of Building and Living.


Michael J Fox: Community Participation in Access Decision Making.


V K Mathur: Rural Buildings and Environments for Persons with Disabilities in Developing Countries.


Adolf D Ratzka: Non-Handicapping Environments or Institutions: The Historic Chance of Developing Countries.


Eduardo Alvarez et al: Planning Regulations in Uruguay.


Naoto Tanaka: Kobe, A City on the Way to A Barrier-Free Environment?


Thomas Chu: The Situation of Non-Handicapping Environments in Taiwan.


Tetsou Akiyama: Means of Transportation for Non-Handicapping Environments.


Hiroko Ogawa: Housing Programs for Old Persons in Rural Communities of Japan.


Akio Hagita and Yasumasa Tochigi: Independent Living Housing Projects for Physically Disabled Persons in Japan: Housing with Attendant Care.


Kei Adachi and Hyoichiro Araki: New Trends in Public Housing Complexes for Old and Disabled Persons in the Community.


Satochi Kose and Michiko Nakaohji: Housing Old Persons: Past, Present and Future Policy Development by The Ministry of Construction.


Kazuyuki Iwai, Akihiro Hotta, Matsutaro Yoshioka: Feasibility Study of The "Care Housing System" for Southeast Asian Countries.


Minakshi Jain: Low-Cost Rural Housing,


Final Seminar Discussion.


Summaries .


Concluding Remarks.



Resolutions adopted by the CIB W84 Expert Seminar in Prague.


About CIB


While persons with disabilities have always been painfully aware of the limitations imposed on them by man-made obstacles, it is only recently that accessibility in the built environment for old and disabled citizens has started to become a concern of builders and planners. Still more novel is the recognition that these issues are of mounting importance also in the so-called developing countries. Increasing life expectancies of a growing segment of the population due to advances in health care delivery and accelerating rates of urbanization have resulted in snowballing populations of old and disabled persons in the urban areas of Third World countries. At the same time, the rising influence of organizations of disabled people is creating a growing awareness of accessibility issues in these parts of the world.

These developments present new tasks for those concerned with accessibility in the built environment as a basic human and civil right for all. The present seminar is one attempt in beginning to identify the issues involved.

As can be seen from the contributions, much of the meeting was dominated by Japan’s concern over its growing population of old persons. The language used in some of the presentations on this theme often does not convey the recognition that age and disability are normal conditions of life in a statistical and human life cycle sense. What is sometimes conceived of as problem is the fact that the population enjoys better health at an older age.

The real problem, instead, seems to consist of the results of the unwillingness on the part of builders and planners throughout hisory to consider old and disabled persons as equally important citizens who have a right to live in society and are not to be shut away in special facilities. If disability is seen as a special phenomenon rather than a normal characteristic of life, special housing and special facilities will appear as immediate and convenient solutions. Hopefully, through meetings such as this the message can be spread that disabled people are here to stay and that it is much better to take this fact into account in all planning from the very beginning.

The term "independent living" is generously used by some of the contributors of the seminar, often in connection with special purpose-built housing for old and disabled persons. The definition of "independent living" will, of course, be a function of local condiions including family structure, housing choices and available economic and social alternatives. The term was introduced in North America in the 1960’s and was originally used as a synonym for de-institutionalization, i.e. keeping disabled persons out of special, segregated facilities for housing, education and work.

Today, Independent Living has become the name of a world-wide civil rights movement of persons with disabilities. While the movement is represented in many countries with greatly differing conditions, most members would agree on a definition that conains, as the least common denominator, the demand for equal opportunities and the same choices that the general population takes for granted in such areas as housing, transportation, education, work, culture, economics and politics. According to that interpreation, special and segregated facilities exclusively for the use of old and disabled persons would not fit the definition. In fact, no single type of housing in itself can be called "Independent Living", since the term implies access to a range of choices.

Choice is the key to Independent Living. Today, the general population including politicians and planners still see persons with disabilities as helpless victims, objects of care, public policies and the charitable sentiments of their fellow citizens. The concept of choice, on the other hand, would require a different view. Choice assumes social and economic agents who are capable of making decisions in their own best interest.

Choice as a goal for planning and politics requires a shift in attitude on the part of the general population and persons with disabilities themselves. This change has vast implications for the practical work of planners, designers and government officials. To create the same options and alternatives for everyone requires persons with disabilities to organize themselves, to formulate their needs and to voice their demands through the political process. The work consists of turning the built environment everywhere from an environment which, at worst, presents obstacles and, at best, tolerates persons with disabilities into an instrument for enabling persons with disabilities to reach the goal of equal opportunities.

Adolf D. Ratzka, Ph.D.

Presentation of the Organizers

Organized jointly by
CIB, the International Council for Building Research, Studies and Documentation, Working Commission W84 and the Architectural Institute of Japan, Tokyo in cooperation with ICTA, International Commission on Technical Aids, Building and Transportation

sponsored by
the Swedish National Council for Building Research, Stockholm
and sponsors of the Architectural Institute of Japan 

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 documentaion, 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. More on CIB, its membership and activiies, can be found in the Appendix.

In 1983 CIB established a Working Commission in the disability area. Professor Sven Thiberg was appointed Coordinator of the Working Commission which received the name "Building Concept for the Handicapped". The Commission’s secretariat was placed with the Department of Building Function Analysis, School of Architecture, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. Funding has since then been provided by the the Swedish National Council for Building Research.

CIB W84 works towards

raising the general level of expertise of and to stimulate interest in accessibility issues among the groups who influence shape and role of the physical environment,

contributing to R&D and international exchange within well defined areas of strategic importance that up to now have been neglected and are suitable for international exchange of experiences,

strengthening contacts, exchange and cooperation on a regional level by utilizing the benefits inherent in cultural and linguistic congruence. The Working Commission’s first Expert Seminar took place in Stockholm in 1984. Among the outcomes of the Seminar were recommendations and priorities for the Commission’s future work. At the meeting CIB W84 changed its name to ’Building Non-Handicapping Environments’. The Seminar’s proceedings are published in Report of the International Expert Seminar ’Building Concept for the Handicapped’ in Stockholm, April 10-12, 1984, The Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Building Funcion Analysis, Stockholm.

The second Expert Seminar organized by CIB W84 took place in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1987 under the theme "Renewal of Inner Cities". One of the outcomes of the meeting are the Prague Resolutions which have become the guidelines CIB W84’s work. The resolutions are reproduced in the Appendix of the present report. The documentation of the Prague Seminar is published in Report of the Second International Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments: Renewal of Inner Cities, Prague, October 15-17, 1987, The Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Building Function Analysis, Stockholm.

Other activities of the CIB W84 Secretariat include editing a semi-annual newsletter and conducting a limited number of research projects. Future seminars on accessibility issues in developing countries are planned.

The Department of Building Function Analysis, where CIB W84’s Secretariat is housed, 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 making 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:

Coordinator Professor Sven Thiberg
Associate Coordinator Adolf D. Ratzka, Ph.D.
The Royal Institute of Technology
Department of Building Function Analysis
100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Telefax int+46-8 32 93 24 

Opening Statements

Dr. Yasumi Yoshitake
Chairman, Executive Committee, Architectural Institute of Japan

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to welcome you all to this seminar on "Building Non-Handicapping Environments in Developing Countries". I believe this opportunity will strengthen relationships between CIB and the Architectural Institute of Japan. The theme of the seminar is very important not only for us but also for everyone in the world. A better environment for persons with disabilities is a better environment for everybody. In Japan this theme has been the focus in both research and practice during the past 15 years. In 1977, a special committee was established to acively work with this subject. This seminar has been organized on the Japanese side by this committee under the leadership of Dr. Hayashi. Although our achievements in this area have been limited, it is a great pleasure to share our experiences with you in this seminar and workshop. I wish you a successful meeting with fruitful results in your efforts today as well as your work in the future. 

Prof. Sven Thiberg
CIB W84 Coordinator

It is a pleasure for Adolf Ratzka and myself to introduce the CIB W84 work in this part of the world by the support of Dr.Tamako Hayashi and all others in the planning committee. Without their professional, energetic and friendly support this seminar would not have been possible. We also thank the Architectural Institute of Japan for opening its doors to this seminar and Rehabilitation International for including us in its efforts to strengthen the posiions of persons with disabilities throughout the world.

When the CIB/W84 Program Committee met in Prague in October 1987, we identified a series of possible projects, among them regional seminars on specific issues. I quote from the Prague Report, page 24:
While planning for the Prague Seminar the CIB W84 Secreariat received registrations from over 40 experts and representatives of disability organizations from developing counries. Only three persons, however, were able to participate on account of the high travel costs.

There is a growing interest in accessibility issues in developing countries the reasons being rapid urbanization, an increase in the old population and such disabling conditions as warfare, high accident rates and malnutrition. In recent years organizaions of persons with disabilities have been gaining increasing strength in developing countries and their demands include research and planning measures for improving accessibility of the built environment. Literature and case studies in this area are almost non-existing. Efforts are required to identify research needs, to examine the transferability of existing knowledge and methods and to increase the awareness for accessibility issues among decision makers and planners.

CIB W84 in addressing these needs is planning a series of regional seminars with the aim of introducing accessibility issues to the political and scientific arena. The first seminar in this series is planned for Tokyo in September 1988 in cooperation with ICTA, International Commission on Technical Aids, Building and Transportation in connection with Rehabilitation International’s 16th World Congress.

Thanks to our hosts and colleagues here today this proposal is now a reality. Even if this is an encouraging fact, I can not avoid some thoughts of less optimistic character. Even this time the contribuions from so-called developing countries are very limited in number. There are many reasons for that:

  • Research and development work in our field is not usually found in these countries.
  • To find resources to house the homeless is often an overflowing problemÝ-Ý the need to include all citizens in this process is not defined.
  • Persons with disabilities themselves have not yet organizations strong enough to put pressure on authorities, politicians and planners.

    And finally,

  • The very few who have research and development in our field as their profession, very often have no, or limited, resources for travel outside their own countries.
This affects our seminar and makes it even more important. It is our responsibility to define the problem area, to formulate programs for future activities within CIB/W84 in this field and to call for support from the world’s rich parts for research and development work. In our opinion, these are the main goals of our seminar.

We welcome all professional and creative contributions to our discussions during this day. We have a long series of interesting and qualified presentations to start from and good opportunities to be concrete and outspoken.

We start today’s work with a series of presentations. After each presentation there is a possibility to make short comments or quesions. After the lunch break we will present a proposal for a strucure of the discussion. But already now I want to introduce some key questions for us to consider.

When building non-handicapping environments in so-called developing countries, which are the most important hindrances and the most useful means to overcome these hindrances?

  • social and cultural factors
  • economic and technical factors
  • geographical and climatic factors
  • lack of materials, constructions and technical soluions
  • lack of legislation, regulations and financing rules
  • lack of planning and design capability or systems
  • lack of user participation and pressure groups
  • lack of knowledge, research and information
I think it is possible for us to use our experiences from different countries and different backgrounds in this seminar to try and find what is general and what is specific for all of us including the so-called developing countries. And also, what is specific for each country itself, for sometimes I believe this generalization of developed and developing countries is wrong. Let us hope we can develop today constructive proposals and creative approaches to problems such as those I have just read for you.

Dr. Mickey Milner
Immediate Past Chairman of ICTA, International Commission on Technical Aids, Building and Transportation

Professor Thiberg, Dr. Ratzka, Dr. Hayashi, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to have the opportunity to say a few words at this cooperative venture relating to building non-handicapping environments, a collaborative venture between CIB, ICTA and the Architectural Institute of Japan. I am intrigued with the significant preparatory work that has been done as well as with the exciting program that has been put forward. This is testimony to the significant effort that individuals have put into making this paricular meeting a success. I am also excited by the number of paricipants and I trust we will all be able to learn significantly from each other in this exciting venture today.

I should point out that ICTA is a commission of Rehabilitation International which is concerned with building, transportation and technical aids. It may be of interest to learn that the international symbol of accessibility was borne out of ICTA’s activities. For the coming years we have identified some significant areas of involvement, including access and a review of that symbol in the ways it could be utilized to signify accessibility for all people. We are looking at access in terms of three levels: developed countries; countries that might not have developed in the ways they would have liked to because of political structure; and then, developing countries which obviously are emerging in regard to opportunities of access for persons with disabilities. We are also very concerned with the provision of technology, not only in terms of technical aids per se but also the dispensing of that technology; with the needs of service programs and with the educational requirements for individuals to be able to provide that kind of technology. I think the kinds of things we will be discussing today have pertinence for our educators to ensure that subsequent generations of workers in various areas can provide the right kinds of technologies for appropriate access.

I am grateful as well to Mr. Tomas Lagerwall who has contributed, from ICTA’s part, to ’ICTA Inform’. This is a medium that provides messages to the world community relating to Rehabilitation International’s activities in regard to technical aids, building and transportation. And, no doubt, they will be featuring in that paricular medium some information Tomas Lagerwall and myself will carry away from this meeting here. Please feel free to use that medium to convey messages that are of importance to you. 

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