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Thinking beyond disability access when designing buildings

One of the recent key amendments to Irish Regulations is that there is no reference to people with disabilities in the requirements and adequate provision must be provided for all people to access and use a building, its facilities and its environs. The requirements have been strengthened and architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and designers must now take into account all people regardless of their age, size or disability.

As you may be aware Part M of the Irish Building Regulations was updated in 2010 and came into operation from the 1st January 2012. The main requirement of Part M states that “Adequate provision shall be made for people to access and use a building, its facilities and its environs”.

If we explore this further and review the Technical Guidance Document M (that was published in 2010 in conjunction with the new requirements of Part M) it states that those involved in the design of buildings must “foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment” and adequately provide for all people regardless of their age size or disability. 

It also indicates that the requirements of Part M underpin the principle of ‘Universal Deign’. The definition of Universal Design “is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability”.

In the context of the built environment and accessibility this means we must design our buildings and environments to meet the needs the widest range of people possible (regardless of age, size or disability) without the needs for specialised adaptation. 

The following are some examples of key design criteria that should be considered when designing buildings to be accessible and usable for all people:

If you would like further information on making the built environment more accessible for all people, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01-4151285 or [email protected]