Click here to go directly to EUR-Lex - European Union Legislation

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Click here to go directly to the Institute for Housing and Social Infrastructure  -  Italy

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Towards a
Sustainable Social Environment

& Facilitation Design
(2001 WHO ICF)

Bookmark this Page:

Social Environment
The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.

The Social Environment shapes, binds together, and directs the future development of, the Built (including Virtual) Environment.

A Community-Centred approach to Spatial Planning must, once again, become the norm.

Social Wellbeing for All
A general condition - in a community, society or culture - of health, happiness, creativity,
responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.

C J Walsh

2004 Rio de Janeiro Declaration on
Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing

Adopted 11th December, 2004

Click Here to View

2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
(French, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic)

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 789kb)


United Nations
1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 309kb)



February 2000
European Parliament - Working Paper PE 168.629

Fundamental Social Rights in Europe

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 185kb)


Facilitation Design
An ethical, rights-based approach to design, targeted at the elimination of Participation Barriers and the insertion of Environmental Factors which improve a person's activity and functioning, or reduce his/her disability, in the Built, Social or Virtual Environments.

(2001 WHO ICF)
Any environmental factor which, through its presence or absence, improves activity and functioning, or reduces disability.

Environmental Factors
(2001 WHO ICF)
Those factors which are external, or extrinsic, to the context of a person's life and living situation, e.g. the built environment and its features (real / virtual), other people in different roles, social attitudes and values, services, systems and policies.

Personal Factors
(2001 WHO ICF)
Those factors which are internal, or intrinsic, to the context of a person's life and living situation, e.g. age, gender, level of education, socio-economic status, and life experiences, etc.

Facilitation Aid
Any product, device or system - at the level of an individual person - which improves activity and functioning, or reduces disability, e.g. a wheelchair or walking stick.




European Union 2003 (EYPD) Expert Group on Accessibility

Established by the European Commission - DG Employment & Social Affairs
for 2003 - European Year of People with Disabilities (EYPD)

C J Walsh is a Member of this Group




Design for Hearing Impairment & Audio Facilitation Aids ?
Design for Visual Impairment ?
Live Audio Description for Performing & Visual Arts ? Sign Language & Sign Interpretation ? Design for Physical Function Impairment & Wheelchair Manoeuvrability ? Accessible Presentation of Printed Material ?

In co-operation with

Sustainable Internet Services, Ireland

We provide the following expert professional services:

Accessibility Surveys, Audits & Impact Assessments
Accessibility Design & Implementation
Accessibility Training & Education Courses

Disability Policy Implementation
Anti-Discrimination Proofing (Disability) of Organizations

Accessibility-Related ....
Fire Engineering Design & Consultancy
Industrial Product Design
Independent 3rd Party Inspections & Verification
Spatial Planning at Regional Levels

New, Existing & Historical Buildings
Golf Courses, Outdoor Sports Facilities, Swimming Pools & Amusement Parks

e-Accessibility of Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies (EICT's)

Full Integration into Quality, Safety at Work & Environmental Policies

For more information about these services, please contact us directly.

Braille Maps, Signage & Printed Material ?
Design for Mental & Cognitive Impairment ?
Accessible Telephones with Volume Control ? Accessible Telephones with Text ? Closed Captioning of TV, Video, DVD & Film ? Audio Description for TV, Video, DVD & Film ?




Model Disability Policy Statements

Employer Organisation Regional or Local Authority Educational Establishment
Contact Us
(PDF File 51kb)
Contact Us
(PDF File 52kb)
Contact Us
(PDF File 51kb)

In the event of any Legal Action being taken by a Plaintiff ......

' It shall be for the respondent to prove that there has been no breach
of the principle of equal treatment.'

Article 10 of EU Directive 2000/78/EC

2nd December 2003
Date for Implementation of this Directive in all EU Member States.
Any existing anti-discrimination legislation must also be made consistent with the new Directive.


European Agency for Safety & Health at Work - EASHW

EASHW Network - People with Activity Limitations


EASHW FactSheet No.53 - 2004

Ensuring the Health & Safety of Workers with Disabilities

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 356kb)



The Disability Manual

Bearing in mind the Burden of Proof in European legislation ..... Recruitment, Work & Promotion Practices at all levels of an Organization must be documented in a Disability Manual.

Because of the Social Stigma still attaching to disability, some people may not wish to identify themselves as having an impairment; other people may genuinely not know that they have one.

Workers at all levels of an Organization, who can readily be identified as 'people with activity limitations', must comprise 5% Minimum of the Workforce.

This is a reasonable Disability Employment Quota, as even the oldest and most unreliable data in Europe suggests that 10% of any population comprises 'people with activity limitations'.

Update June 2007:
 However .... more recent Statistics from EuroStat suggest that
of any population comprises 'people with activity limitations'. And for the purpose
of Fire Safety in Buildings, a Workforce figure of 10% Minimum should be used.

A Quantified Employment Quota is required for the purposes of Adequate Accessibility Implementation.

Good Employment is an Important Key to Social Inclusion.
Fulfilling and meaningful - not menial - employment must therefore be provided for 'people with activity limitations'.

To ensure that there is Equal Employment Opportunity, special recruitment and promotion procedures will be required. Special training courses may be necessary.

Important Reasons for an Organization to Implement a Disability Policy

1. Corporate Social Responsibility

European Commission - DG Employment & Social Affairs

European Commission - DG Enterprise

European Commission - DG Trade

2. Strategic Movement Towards the 'Creative' Workplace

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 29kb)

Stress at Work & Mental Health






European Union Policy Framework

Achievement of Equality of Opportunity & Social Inclusion
For Every Person in the European Union (E.U.)

(Refer to EU Council Resolution 97/C 12/01)


Preferred EU Organization Framework

Click Here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 65kb)

A New European Context for Accessibility : 2010

Report of the EU Expert Group on Accessibility
EU Council Directive

European Commission
Communication (2003) 650

Click Here to Download
(PDF File 285kb)
Click Here to Download
(PDF File 129kb)
Click Here to Download
(PDF File 209kb)

This New Context Requires Continual Re-Assessment.



People with Activity Limitations

Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, human activities or tasks - because of a health condition or physical / mental / cognitive / psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.

Harmonized EU Vocabulary on 'Disability & Perception'
(April 2002)

Click here to Download PDF
(PDF File, 113kb)

Updated December 2004 - See Appendix IV in the
2004 Rio Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing





A Fundamental Attribute of a
Sustainable Built (incl. Virtual) Environment

An Essential Prerequisite for
Social Justice, Solidarity & Inclusion for All
Fundamental Values in a Sustainable Social Environment

Accessibility of a Building 
Ease of independent approach, entry and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building's potential users ~ with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare during the course of those activities.

which must be overlaid by ....

Accessibility of the Built & Virtual Environments 
Ease of independent mobility throughout the built and virtual environments, and/or use of the facilities, services and information available in those environments, by any person or group of people ~ with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare, and group Wellbeing, during the course of those activities.

Protection of People with Activity Limitations from Fire in Buildings

Disability - Towards a Common European Technical Agenda

The Accessibility Cycle
Why not think of accessibility as a dynamic process - as a continuous 'cycle' - which it is in reality ?
And why not also look at accessibility of the 'built' environment as a whole - including buildings, and transport, and streets, and infrastructure, etc ?

Afterall .... there is no rational or logical reason why transport should be treated separately from the rest of the 'built' environment - whatever the institutional arrangements in Brussels, or at national level in the EU Member States.

Accessibility Impact Assessment

A continual evaluation and optimization process - informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization - of the interrelated negative impacts of Participation Barriers and Restrictions and the positive impacts of inserted Environmental Factors in the Built, Social or Virtual Environments.

Accessibility : 2010
Priority Targeting for Concerted Action in Europe

List A
'Survival & Liberation'

  • Residential Buildings
  • Public Transport
  • Educational Buildings
  • ' Workplaces'
List B
'Health & Social Wellbeing'

  • Health Facilities
  • Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies
  • Civic Buildings with a Voting / Voter Registration or Judicial Function
  • Buildings of Historical, Cultural or Architectural Importance 
See Principle 9 in the
2004 Rio Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing

  1. Accessibility EuroCode - A Harmonized European Code of Design, Construction & Management Practice for Spatial Planning & Infrastructural Works, Buildings & the 'Workplace', Protection from Fire in Buildings, and Transport

    Accessibility Matrix
    (PDF File, 32kb)

    See Proposed Revision to EU Directive 89/106/EEC

    Accessibility EuroCode - Contents & Format
    (June 2003)

    Click here to Download PDF
    (PDF File, 53kb)

    In building design and detailing, opportunities to depart from the 'straight line' and 'right-angle' should be fully explored. A building's internal spaces should be designed or modified to be of human scale; its general arrangement, layout and facilities should be easily understood by building users; and a ready connection with the exterior should be provided throughout its extent. The building's associated external spaces should be properly designed, and should relate to the internal plan and function. It should be possible for a person to find his/her orientation in a building without difficulty. The building's circulation spaces should be well lit, and should be designed to positively encourage social interaction. Good architectural design and immediately understandable sensory cues should be used in preference to signage. Adequate provision should be made for people to personalize their educational / living / work spaces, and to control the environmental conditions within those spaces.

    Announcing a New Computer Software Package
    Proto-Access - 2007

    Click Here to Download a Brief Description
    (PDF File, 38kb)

  2. Accessibility EuroCode - Also Incorporating Facilitation Design of a Sustainable Virtual Environment  (including Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies - EICT's)

    e-Accessibility Matrix

    Click here to Download PDF
    (PDF File, 60kb)

    Sustainability e-Label

    It is our policy to improve, and to constantly review, the accessibility of this WebSite. For an example of our current approach to e-Accessibility, go to our HomePage.

  3. Archive: Elimination of Architectural Barriers to Mobility of Disabled People in Residential Buildings  -  RIAI / AOTI 1990

    Accessibility of residential buildings, public transport, educational buildings and 'workplaces' requires priority and targeted implementation in the European Union. Until now, talk has been very cheap !

    See # 1 above.

  4. Comparitive Matrix between 1991 Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines (HUD - USA) and the following US Model Building Codes

    ICC - International Building Code (1997 first draft)
    BOCA - National Building Code (1996 edition)
    ICBO - Uniform Building Code (1997 edition)
    SBCCI - Standard Building Code (1997 edition)

    Click Here to Download

    (PDF File, 313kb )

  5. A Typical Architectural Detail Produced by This Practice

    For example ..... a ground supported concrete floor slab / slab on grade / floating slab.

    Application ..... typically Europe - outside Seismic Zones !

    Detail of Junction at Ground Floor and External Wall
    This detail incorporates Radon Protection Measures, High Thermal Performance, an allowance for Construction Settlement, and a flexible approach to Accessibility.

  • All Entrances and Fire Exits Should Have Level Access / Egress
    If there is a threshold sill at an entrance / exit doorset, it should not have a height greater than 10mm.

  • Uneven External Ground Level or Where the Final Level of External Ground Cannot be Precisely Determined
    The approach to the level circulation space (clear area of 1.800m x 1.800m) in front of an entrance, or the route away from the level circulation space outside an exit, may be easily sloped or ramped (max. gradient 1:20) in order to deal with the 75mm difference between internal and external levels shown above. Installation of a damp proof course (DPC) in the external leaf of the cavity wall, at a position approximately 150mm above external ground level in a separate horizontal joint, is an option for the architect to decide upon. A projecting canopy over the door opening and associated external circulation space, or recessing the door opening and associated external circulation space under a floor above, will provide weather protection. To aid surface water run-off, the external circulation space associated with a door opening may incorporate a very slight slope (max. gradient 1:50) away from the opening. You now have level access / egress.

  • Where Even External Ground Level Can be Precisely Determined
    Considering a very slight slope (max. gradient 1:50) to aid surface water run-off, drop the internal level shown above by a dimension to be calculated by the architect. Install a damp proof course (DPC) in the external leaf of the cavity wall, at a position 150mm above external ground level. You now have level access / egress.

  • Important Note Concerning Thermal Insulation in Buildings
    Conscious that the Construction Sector in the European Union must implement
    a dramatic improvement in performance, if its legally binding commitments
    under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol are to be fulfilled - every opportunity must be taken
    to maximize levels of thermal insulation in new buildings.

    The insulation shown in the detail above is expanded polystyrene.
    Underfloor insulation should have a minimum density of 25kg/m3.

  • Under no circumstances should a Radon Resisting Membrane exit a building below external ground level


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