The Benefits of Good Accessibility
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) is estimated to live with some form of disability. Some 60 million people in Middle East suffer from a form of disability
It is expected that by 2050, the number of people requiring assistive devices such as wheelchairs and communication technologies will double according to the WHO.
Creating accessible buildings, spaces and services should be central to any smart city strategy that seeks to improve happiness and quality of life of its citizens. Accessible design does not have to be expensive and any investment is returned with increased service users, customers and employee sastisfaction.
Protecting ageing communities
Due to global ageing populations, the number of people facing accessibility issues will increase faster then population growth
As the World’s population gets older, the prevalence and severity of disability is increasing. The worldwide growth rate of persons with disabilities is higher than population growth. This is in part due to ageing populations.
Protecting elderly communities is the priority for governments and their continued independence and quality of life can be impacted directly on poor accessibility to buildings.
Providing access to everyone
Accessing buildings can be taken for granted but for those members of society who are differently abled, the ability to enter buildings can be vastly more difficult.
Improving how people can access all the same services, leisure activities, work and education opportunities enjoyed by all citizens, is central to the benefit of good accessibility. Common obstacles include narrow doors & corridors, inadequate elevators and a lack of ramps or handrails.
All people deserve to experience the same level of access and governments are committed to addressing those design problems of buildings that restrict access.
Good access is good business
The combined spending power of disabled people is estimated to be £249 billion in the United Kingdom. This is referred to as the ‘purple pound’ and the spending power of the disabled community is good business and should not be overlooked.
Customers are fiercely loyal to disabled friendly organisations. It is estimated, businesses in the UK alone, lose approximately £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people. Three quarters of disabled people say they and their families have left a venue due to accessibility issues.
Addressing building issues that reduce accessibility can open the door of opportunity for all businesses and government services.
A high quality of Life
Accessibility is a key pillar for the short and long term objectives of Governments hoping to increase quality of life for its citizens. Good access to health services, leisure opportunities and enabling the ability to spend time with friends and family is central to happiness and quality of life.
Poor access can restrict quality of life in various aspects. Removing independence, restricting access to leisure, work, education, health services and limiting opportunity to enjoy same activities of other people. Good access can help governments to increase quality of life and improve global rankings and indicators for urban liveability.
More tourist & business visitors
Accessible tourism is rapidly increasing segment. As the World gets older, the number of holidays taken by the over 55 age group continues to increase.
Tourist with special needs spend on average three times more than other tourists. Disabled tourists can generate more revenue as are nearly always accompanied by at least one companion. Disabled visitors are loyal and will return to destinations if have positive experience.
Over 50% percent of people with disabilities would travel more if accessible facilities were available to them. On average, 88% of people with a disability take a holiday each year. Accessibility is therefore crucial to enabling the benefits of increased tourism. It is estimated, 50 million people with Special Needs in the Middle East are looking to visit cities and tourist destinations that provide appropriate services to them as per their needs.
Inclusive & accessible education
Providing children equal access to high quality education and learning is central to government policy. Overcoming barriers to education for children with different mobility or cognitive requirements relies on accessibility assessment of school and university buildings.
Barriers to movement are common cause for restricting the opportunities for children with different access needs. Good access can allow better student integration, independence and quality of learning. School building assessment can identify where obstacles exist and advise what actions to take to mitigate or reduce their negative impact on child learning experience.
A diverse inclusive workforce
Creating a diverse economy requires the public and private sector to embrace a wide range of skills and knowledge of its available labour pool. Increasing the amount of people who can enter workforce by reducing physical barriers in offices and buildings can be helped by accessibility auditing.
Enabling people with range of unique skills and education is part of a equitable society but also improves business opportunities for companies. Disabled people can enrich a workforce by bringing different perspectives to problems and experience of overcoming host of life challenges.
Physical shopping experiences
Removing physical barriers to accessibility is critical to the survival of bricks and mortar establishments in competition with online shopping. Increasing the spending potential can help recoup losses experienced by retail industry
It is estimated that supermarkets and retail stores in the UK lose £768 million income per month due to poor accessibility.
Approximately four in five disabled customers said businesses could do more to make their stores accessible. Also 75% of disabled people have left stores, unable to finish purchases because of their disability.
Independently mobile citizens
It is expected that by 2050, the number of people requiring assistive devices such as wheelchairs and communication technologies will double, according to the World Health Organization. Ensuring disabled people and elderly residents can maintain and continue levels of independence through mobility and activity choices is important. Through integrated mobility and public transport investment he success of movement strategies is reliant on good accessibility, particularly for last mile connections.
Allowing citizens freedom and independence of movement choice is important for quality of life and urban liveability.