The National Council of and for People
with Disabilities

Universal design & audits

Imperatives which include the South African Constitution, the Employment Equity Act, the Promotion of Equality and more recently the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as other human rights laws, have reinforced the importance of addressing the social integration of persons with disabilities into all areas of society.

These significant legal instruments have generated new requirements for the planning and management of all public and commercial activities as part of a much larger responsibility placed at the door of the private and public sectors.

One of the consequences of this combined legal framework to promote equity is the responsibility that now lies with the corporate governance of any governmental or private sector entity to address the needs of persons with disabilities, and ensure an improved quality of the environment for all users.

According to the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the following six dimensions have to be addressed in order to remove barriers to access and participation:

  • Changing attitudes and behaviour;
  • Access to the built environment;
  • Access to transport;
  • Access to information and communication;
  • Inclusive design and access; and
  • Reasonable accommodation measures.

The Universal Design approach is an important step forward as it represents a more inclusive or holistic approach. It ensures that a high level of accessibility within the built environment is a priority for the community as whole, giving freedom of choice and freedom of movements to all individuals throughout their lifetimes.