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Access to commercial buildings, goods, services and employment
I am Adrian Tagg, an Associate Professor in Building Surveying at the University of Reading, I have an active research interest in disability in the context of accessing commercial buildings. In 2020 I published a report on research into Public and Commercial Attitudes to Disability in the Built Environment [ Public-and-Commercial-Attitudes-to-Disability-in-the-BE.pdf (ucem.ac.uk) ]. The findings overwhelmingly identified that:
· Only those that recognise as having physical or mental impairment or those caring for someone with a physical or mental impairment can truly comment on the suitability of access provision to buildings, goods or services;
· There is commercial and social value in providing an inclusive environment and
· Commercial investors as well as those delivering goods and services should choose opportunity over obligation in the delivery of above legal minimum compliance regarding building access.
There is currently an obligation on commercial building owners and those delivering goods, services and providing employment to make ‘reasonable adjustment’ to facilitate this. This appears to place an emphasis on what is ‘reasonable’ to the service provider when it is the experiences of those with disability that really matter.
In order to move forward with developing appropriate access solutions, this needs to be driven by those who experience difficulties with accessing buildings, goods, services and employment.
I have devised a questionnaire that seeks to understand the disability specific requirements for accessing goods, services and employment. It can be completed by a person who is disabled, or their carer. The questionnaire is directed to obtain responses from the person who is disabled. It is quite a long survey but it is important to obtain the opinions of those with a physical or mental impairment. This is based on INDIVIDUAL experience and needs for access concerning:
· Essential Adjustment (personal critical needs for access).
· Reasonable Adjustment (personal minimal or standard needs for access)
· Desirable Adjustment ("nice to have" access requirements)
· Optional Adjustment or N/A (not necessary or relevant for personal disability).
I appreciate your contribution and it is important to collect the best possible data. The survey has been distributed to over 50 charities and organisations representing a wide range of disabilities with a maximum of 15,000 responses permitted.
The long-term aim is to use the results of the survey to drive change in commercial attitudes to creating an inclusive environment.
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