Accessibility of public buildings to disabled persons

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Chilufya, Mutinta M.
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This research discusses the inaccessibility of public buildings in relation to persons with disabilities. The research identifies inadequacies of these buildings and considers the practical challenges that persons with disabilities are faced with as a result. The research further examines the effect of this inaccessibility on the dignity and right to equality of persons with disabilities as well as their other rights. The research thereafter discusses the contribution that accessible buildings can have on mainstreaming disabled persons in employment, education and health.Through interviews and a case example, the research established that most public buildings in Lusaka are inaccessible, as they were constructed in a way that hinders reaching or using them freely. Despite being intended for use by the general public they do not take into consideration the needs of persons with disabilities. Findings of this research reveal that these buildings lack ramps, handrails, elevators, user friendly restrooms and other facilities necessary for disabled persons to freely use a building. This state of affairs has resulted in disabled persons facing practical challenges (which are degrading at times) when making use of the services offered in such buildings. The research further established that as a result, there have been negative consequences on disabled persons' inherent dignity and right to equality. In addition, inaccessibility has restricted their enjoyment of the rights to independent living, inclusion in society and equality of opportunity.The research considered that making public buildings accessible whether by universal design or reasonable accommodation would contribute greatly to the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in Zambia. This would afford disabled persons an opportunity to participate in employment, education and health on an equal basis with able-bodied persons. Thereby promoting equality and enhancing dignity.As such the research makes recommendations with the aim of achieving equality and dignity for persons with disabilities through the provision of accessible buildings. There is need to formulate standards of accessibility to be used in conducting extensive country wide access audits on all public buildings. In addition, educating relevant stakeholders on the value of accessible buildings and using tax incentives to motivate property owners to make their buildings accessible.
People with disabilities- Zambia , People with disabilities- Services for- Zambia , People with disabilities- Government policy , People with disabilities- Rehabilitation- Zambia , People with disabilities- Needs assessment- Zambia