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Public and Commercial Attitudes to Disability in the Built Environment

Tagg, A. ORCID:, (2020) Public and Commercial Attitudes to Disability in the Built Environment. Technical Report. University College of Estate Management pp76.

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Executive Summary The Equality Act 2010 and London Paralympics in 2012 have been instrumental in raising public awareness of disability in the UK. With 1 in 5 people classed as disabled there is a likelihood that most, if not all of us will be directly or indirectly engaged with this in our lives. Disability is not something that occurs every 4 years but is an everyday issue affecting millions of people. There appears to be a disconnect between general public attitudes towards disability and those actually encountering access barriers, due to a lack of inclusivity during their normal day to day activities. The key organisations who can make a tangible difference to inclusivity in the Built Environment are service providers, property owners, investors and advisors. This research concerns public and commercial attitudes to accessibility, seeking to establish any alignment with current public perception and to look into the barriers to inclusivity that exist within the built environment. Despite overwhelming awareness of The Equality Act 2010, this research has identified a perception gap between disabled and non-disabled users of commercial properties. Simply, those without a disability believe commercial properties are more accessible than they appear to those with a disability; the gap widens further with the opinion of property professionals. Allied to this there is an apparent under representation of those who recognise as having a disability amongst property professionals, indicating a lack of experiential understanding in what constitutes an inclusive environment. While property professionals believe goods and services are largely accessible to those with a physical or mental impairment, more than half of them appear unsure or not convinced that the current legislation concerning access is sufficient. There is also the notion that a commercial property can comply with building regulations concerning accessibility, yet still not be fully accessible to those with a disability. This questions the current criteria for accessibility and the definition of a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in the provision of access. Overwhelmingly there is a recognition that there is commercial value in providing a fully accessible built environment. The suggestion that funding for this could come from a voluntary increase in payment for goods by all members of society is rejected by those with a disability. Furthermore, it is recognised that the responsibility for funding adaptive alterations rest with building owners and service providers. The presence of a legal framework for more than 25 years preventing discrimination of those with a disability from accessing goods and services has provided a ‘stick’ to enforcement. This appears to have had limited impact but in contrast events such as the Paralympics has done significantly more to highlight issues of accessibility and inclusion. Adopting ‘opportunity over obligation’ and recognising the commercial value of inclusivity is another approach to engender or enhance a ‘carrot’ over ‘stick’ approach to providing accessibility in the built environment

Item Type:Report (Technical Report)
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:104553
Publisher:University College of Estate Management

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